Author: Attorney Tom Vercauteren
On Monday, February 8, 2021, US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Chuck Schumer announced that part of the December COVID-19 relief bill will include $2 billion in funds to FEMA for the reimbursement of funeral expenses for those who have died from COVID. Exact details are limited, but families will be eligible for a reimbursement up to $7,000 for funeral assistance. The funds will be available for COVID deaths dating back to January of 2020.
Funeral expenses are often a source of stress incurred at a time when families are grieving their loss. Many funeral homes will require a substantial payment of the expenses prior to having access to the deceased’s assets. Additionally, many families have incurred additional storage expenses for their loved ones’ bodies as funeral homes are swamped with the pandemic. This assistance is intended to relieve part of the added stress of unexpected expenses at a time when the pandemic is already devastating many people’s finances.
While the exact details of qualifying for reimbursement are unclear, some guidance may be seen in FEMA’s funeral assistance made available for prior disasters. To qualify, those seeking reimbursement must provide a death certificate, documentation tying the death to the disaster, and receipts detailing the expenses incurred. Reimbursable expenses have previously included the costs of a casket, mortuary services, transportation for the purposes of identifying a decedent, purchasing a burial plot, and internment or cremation expenses.
It remains unclear whether the relief assistance will be targeted based on income or if there will be other means based testing. $2 billion would cover 285,000 funerals at the reimbursement level of $7,000 per reimbursement, far less than the current death total of 465,000. Therefore, those seeking reimbursement should start gathering their documentation immediately in preparation for the forthcoming guidelines from FEMA.
The lawyers at Hurley Burish, SC stand ready to assist you and your family with filing a reimbursement request from FEMA for funeral expense reimbursement, and are available to answer any estate administration questions you may have. Please contact Attorney Tom Vercauteren at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 257-0945 to schedule your no obligation probate and estate administration consultation.