Prepaid burial expenses do not count as assets in the spend down process as other investments do. One can purchase cemetery property in advance of need as well as a gravemarker.

Funds for the funeral itself and the other necessary expenses can be placed into a trust account in a bank or into some type of life insurance product. Life insurance is often more advantageous since the growth on life insurance policies is tax free.

What happens if the family does not set aside funds for funerals in advance? Medicaid will not pay funeral expenses. The family has to come up with the money somehow. Family members may be forced to accept a form of disposition that is not consistent with their values or religious convictions.



There is an irony at work here. Medicaid will pay medical expenses and the nursing home expenses. Medicaid will not pay burial expenses. Yet, by prepaying funeral expenses with money that will otherwise go to the nursing home or for other qualified expenses, your family can avoid paying these expenses in the future.



So then, Arkansas has no state burial benefits. Counties are obligated to pay for the destitute and friendless. (Counties are not obligated to pay for those who have the funds but do not want to spend them.) Only one member of a couple will be eligible for Social Security’s meager $255.00.

National cemetery benefits are worth thousands of dollars to veteran families who desire burial and qualify for cemetery privileges. However, even with this benefit, the funeral can cost $3,000 to $5,000 for funeral home services and to purchase a casket. It makes sense, therefore, to supplement these benefits with additional funds.


Life insurance products offer a convenient way to set aside funds. There are many payment plans. Some choose a monthly investment that offers immediate protection and builds a reserve for the future. There are other investment possibilities as well.



No Arkansas state government agency provides a burial benefit. It is up to the counties to provide for those without friends or funds.

A special one time lump sum death benefit of $255.00 is available to a surviving spouse or child under 18 of a worker who has Social Security coverage. There is no benefit at the death of the surviving spouse. This has the effect of restricting the benefit to just one member of the family. There is no benefit for those who have never married or who are divorced.

Honorably discharged veterans, their spouses and dependent children are eligible for free cemetery burial benefits in national cemeteries. The cash value depends on the type of burial desired. It may be considerable when the benefit includes free grave spaces, free grave liners, free opening and closing and a free marker for both the veteran and his or her spouse and their under age children.

Local cemeteries may offer a “Veterans Section” or free grave space. But there is a catch. The grave space may be free but they charge for the liner, opening and closing, and marker. The veteran’s spouse is required to pay full price for all expenses.

One cannot reserve property in advance at a national cemetery. Funeral directors normally make all of the arrangements necessary for interment at the time of death of the first family member. The veteran’s honorable discharge papers or DD 214 forms contain all of the information necessary for these arrangements to be made. It is prudent to have these papers available if this benefit is desired.

When spouses are involved, the first burial is made in the part of the cemetery where current new burials are being made. Since many families are being served each day, all committal services are done at permanent shelters within the cemetery rather than at the actual grave sites. When the second family member dies, the casket is taken to the original grave site for the second interment.

Cremated remains are buried or inurned in national cemeteries in the same manner and with the same honors as casketed remains. This benefit also applies to both husband and wife and their dependent children. It does not make any difference who dies first. The same admission criteria applies as for a casket burial.

It is worth noting that cremated remains can be sent by mail. This makes the approximately 119 national cemeteries as accessible as the local post office.

Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., is operated by the Department of the Army and may be less accessible than other national cemeteries. However, if one desires the placement of cremated remains in Arlington, it is worth checking.

Other Veterans Benefits
If the veteran is receiving a regular veteran’s disability pension and dies while in a veteran’s hospital or other veteran facility, or under care contracted by the Veterans Administration, other burial funds may be available.

The veteran’s family is entitled to one burial flag.

If a private cemetery is used, then the veteran (but not the spouse) is entitled to a marker. The cemetery, however, may charge a setting fee.

Arkansas National Cemeteries
There are three national cemeteries located in Arkansas: Fayetteville National Cemetery, Fort Smith National Cemetery, and Little Rock National Cemetery.

Veterans then have benefits that have a significant monetary value. Although national cemetery expenses are free, the family is still responsible for other expenses. These consist of services provided by the funeral home and the cost of merchandise. These expenses often cost several thousand dollars.

Medicaid is a program of the Federal Government administered by the various states. This program pays for a number of benefits for those without resources. Those who by health or circumstances are required to live in a nursing home often receive Medicaid. Throughout the lifetime of individuals, these benefits could add us to several hundred thousand dollars. But to receive these funds, one has to be without resources.

Normally, individuals are allowed only $2,000.00 in assets to be eligible for Medicaid. To get to this level, an individual must exhaust their savings, cash in life insurance policies, and sell their homes to pay their living expenses or nursing home expenses. A husband or wife is normally allowed to live in their home if the spouse is in a nursing home. Federal Law requires every state to recover what it spent for the care at the death of the second spouse. In some states, placing a lien on your home is part of the estate recovery act. This information may sound grim, but you can verify it very easily with anyone who has gone through the process of applying for benefits.

Many older couples have found themselves spending down their assets to qualify for Medicaid.