How are funeral expenses paid for destitute adult child?

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Q. How are the funeral expenses paid for an adult child who is destitute?
— Need to know

A. There are resources available for you.

First, the New Jersey Department of Human Services may help pay for the funerals of needy adults.

“The first place to start is by making an appointment with a funeral director,” said Jeanne Kane, a financial planner with JFL Total Wealth Management in Boonton. “Tell the funeral director that you think the deceased is eligible for a public assistance funeral.”

The funeral director will work with the county board of social services to see if the deceased qualifies, Kane said.

To be eligible, your child would have to have been receiving assistance from a program such as Work First NJ (WFNJ), Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid.

“The state pays up to $2,770 for funeral home and cemetery expenses,” Kane said. “That’s not a lot considering that the average cost of a funeral is between $7,000 and $9,000.”

Kane said New Jersey allows friends and family to supplement what the state provides by up to $1,570. Any amount that you contribute above that reduces the state benefit dollar for dollar.

Another source of funding to pay funeral expenses would be to ask your church, temple or synagogue, Kane said.

On the tax side, you can’t deduct your contribution to your adult child’s funeral expenses on your tax return, Kane said. Money that you pay towards their funeral would be a gift.

“The deceased may be able to deduct their funeral expense can on their own estate tax return,” she said. “However, only estates with more than $11.4 million will need to do so. Given that he/she was destitute, then this would not apply.”

If eligible for Social Security benefits, then a one-time $255 death benefit could be used to pay for death benefits, Kane said.

Email your questions to moc.p1563744015leHye1563744015noMJN1563744015@ksA1563744015.

This story was originally published on May 13, 2019.

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