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From the Cradle to the Grave ... State Funeral Grants

When Michael Savage spoke about the creation of the welfare state “from the cradle to the grave”, turns out he wasn’t kidding about the grave. There is a Funeral Grant available through WINZ. The Funeral Grant helps people with actual and reasonable funeral costs.

A Funeral Grant is income and asset tested. The test depends on whether the deceased has a surviving partner or dependent child. Broad principles being the surviving partner’s income should be less than $40,644.24 and the deceased assessable assets need to be greater than $1,708.10. Not all assets are assessable.

Non Assessable assets are the person's:

  • interest in his or her own principal place of residence, including any interest in the land on which it is erected and any other buildings or improvements on that land which are used principally for the purposes of that person's household and
  • furniture, appliances, tools, ornaments, or other articles used principally for the purposes of the deceased's household or
  • motor vehicles, caravans, trailers, or boats used principally for family purposes

The maximum Funeral Grant that can be paid to meet funeral expenses is $1,959.42

Expenses that can be included in the assessment of a Funeral Grant are any reasonable costs associated with the proper disposal of a body and include professional services with regard to preparing the body for cremation or burial (for example, embalming, cost of a casket, newspaper notice costs, hearse fees, compulsory fees for the purchase of a burial plot).

Some expenses which are not deemed a burial necessity are not covered Eg. Flowers, donations to clergy or musician, koha, chapel fees and car hire.

Bottom line, what can you expect by way of funeral grant from the state? Let’s look the example below care of the WINZ dept.

Example - married couple

A client whose husband has recently died has made an application for a Funeral Grant. They were receiving New Zealand Superannuation at the time of death with the husband's estate being assessed at $1,000 and the client having $2,000 cash in her bank account. The allowable costs for funeral expenses came to $5,000.
Funeral expenses $5,000
Less deceased assessable estate assets $1,000
Equals balance of funeral expenses $4,000
Surviving partners assets $2,000.00
Less the married civil union or de facto couple asset limit exemption $1,708.10 (as at 1 April 2011) $291.90
Total balance of funeral expenses $3,708.10

As the balance still to pay for the funeral expenses is greater than the maximum payment, the amount of Funeral Grant payable would be the maximum of $1,959.42

For more information run through the WINZ website.

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