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All -

I'm lucky to have come from a financially comfortable background (not rich, but definitely not poor), so I don't have any experience in the situation below, but I'm being looked to for answers, as I'm the FW guy in the family.

My sister's husband came from a small rural town and his family just gets by. Dad (59) is (was) a truck driver, mom (58?) works at Walgreen's. Two grown sisters are married and local to mom and dad. Neither sister works; one lives off of husband's disability check, other lives off husband's low-paying job. The only son, my bother-in-law, lives four hours away with my sister.

Dad passed yesterday, rather suddenly. No life insurance. No savings. Mom's job has no benefits, so she is without health insurance now, I assume. I'm told their house is worth $30k (not a typo) and they owe $19k. I'm not certain of their credit, but I'm not expecting it's strong.

Son (the "baby" of the family) figured out early that he didn't want to be poor and went into the Army to fund college. Did two tours in Iraq, finished college, got good job, married girl (my sister) with good job, and has first baby due this spring.

Funeral is modest, intentionally, but will still run about $10k. Could it have been cheaper? I'm sure, but not the point of this post. Please treat the $10k as a given. Funeral home says they have 30 days to pay.

The two daughters and the mom are looking heavily at the son to pick up the tab. While son and my sister have good jobs, they also have baby on way, reasonable mortgage, etc., etc. They don't have $10k cash...would have to raid 401(k)s or take some sort of loan to get liquid cash.

Thanks for reading the diatribe....now for the questions. Are there gov't programs that help to fund funerals? Does SSA do anything here other than the $255 death benefit? Any other advice/insight to give my sister and brother-in-law? They're not opposed to "matching" what the other siblings chip in, but don't feel obligated to get their family into an early hole because of his parent's lack of planning, etc.

Thanks.

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mikeres (Dec. 31, 2011 @ 3:58p) |

why don't those two sisters work?? even without strong education, get a basic job is better than stay at home.

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Was dad ever in the military? There might be some assistance there if so.

Also, get a credit report on him. Its possible he had some money stashed somewhere that he didn't tell anyone about.

elist said:   Was dad ever in the military? There might be some assistance there if so.

Also, get a credit report on him. Its possible he had some money stashed somewhere that he didn't tell anyone about.


No military for dad.

Didn't think of a credit report...I don't remember mine (from annualcreditreport.com) ever showing any assets or bank accounts. Only debts...mortgage, school, credit card, and cars. Would we have to order something different to see assets or something?

See what sisters can pay and match. Put the rest on a CC opened for the mom.

If this just happened yesterday - and although you say to treat the 10K as a given - unless paperwork has been signed, they can still back out and do this much more inexpensively. If the family wants the son to pick up the tab, they are going to have to let him make arrangements that he can afford.

You're missing a fairly obvious point here. The funeral home can say they have 30 days to pay all they want, but you can probably safely ignore that. I assume your brother-in-law didn't sign anything so there is no potential credit hit. Have the family as a whole contact the funeral home after the funeral, plead poverty, and ask for a payment plan for everyone. They can't really refuse, because the mother probably was the signer for the services, and she is effectively judgement-proof.

solley said:   

Funeral is modest, intentionally, but will still run about $10k.


Sorry for your loss.

Holy sh!t at the funeral cost. My wife has instructions to ship me off to the crematorium and keep my remains in a shoebox if she wants to (and to put them in the dumpster if not).

Cremate does not cost that much. That and you don't have to rent the funeral home for the funeral you can do it at your house or anywhere else.

10k sounds like a casket and big deal at the funeral home etc... Which is not what they can afford.
My grandmother just passed and made sure her will said no big funeral, no people at the bury site, etc... she could afford it but guess what; she worked at the funeral home and knew what it cost and did not want that. She had enough to cover it and so did the rest of my family. But unlike many today, she had a lot of common sense and made sure it lasted even after her death. So her funeral costs were low, lower than 10k, yet she was still buried.


Sounds like they want something they canít afford and want someone else to pay.


EDIT:
And you can also buy your own Urn if she wanted something fancy.
http://www.costco.com/Common/Category.aspx?ec=BC-EC1423-Cat20595...

Here's an interesting article, and there are many more if you google "government paid funeral" or "indigent funeral."

Demand rises for publicly funded burials

You have a couple of options. There is no less dignity in basic funeral services which can be had for as little as $1,500. The choice to treat the $10k as "given" is just that - a choice. If the family, collectively, can't afford it, they need to choose a different option.

marketingmike said:   solley said:   

Funeral is modest, intentionally, but will still run about $10k.


Sorry for your loss.

Holy sh!t at the funeral cost. My wife has instructions to ship me off to the crematorium and keep my remains in a shoebox if she wants to (and to put them in the dumpster if not).

And my instructions are to salvage and donate whatever organs are possible, let the medical students practice on the remainder, and finally let the medical school handle the cremation in its crematory. And I'll be watching from above...

solley said:   All -

... Please treat the $10k as a given. ..


I partly understand the logic behind a public funeral. In many rural/semi-rural communities, entire communities will visit the family at the funeral and pay their last respects. It's like a way of life. A good way, perhaps. However, one should always look for the cheapest public funeral, in that case. Or, inform the local community (through the local news or church) that the body will be cremated and the family will receive visitors at home.

$ 10k is to much to spend if you dont have it, a better price would less than $5k. They need to use some cents, got it.

Good advice. Costco also sells caskets on their website. Is anybody in family serve in military? Also use benefitscheck.org to check dead dad or mom's eligibility for benefits. Site asks some questions and generates customized profile.

It's reasonable to ask - what can you afford without cracking your 401k? consider offering that and no more. If they are offering "nothing" they can't yell at you for offering more than they are.

Funeral homes have a reputation of PREYing on people; they can really upsell to make the survivors feel better. Did mom sign a contract? Who was with her? In my state, you have three days to cancel a contact of this type. Assuming mom signed a contract, someone with a level head needs to talk with her and then talk with the family members to see how much they are willing to contribute.

In certain cultures, funeral visitors (I'm not sure what the correct term is) would donate money to help with the funeral. Its a small town, so if he knew a lot and people liked him, you may get some funds to help with the cost.
What state is this small rural town in?

10k is for a burial right? Not for a cremation? Because most funeral parlor prey on people who 'aren't' prepared and jack up the price way beyond normal for a 'rush' job.

I was in a similar but worse situation two years ago when my dad passed.

10k sounds about right for a full blown funeral. I flat out told the funeral place I was talking to that my mom was a poor destitute widow and there is no way she could afford thousands of dollars. Told him my situation and asked him what he would do in my place. He was kind and gave me the number of a cheaper place, ended up paying less than $1000 for cremation. Dad being a veteran, elks member, and active in the community, had his memorial for free at the elks lodge, got the rotary club to cater it for free.

My suggestion. Take stock of what is the best you can do for dad with the available resources (ask friends and family for help, any social groups he was part of, etc). Talk to friends, his friends, clergy, for recommendations as to where you can go for affordable arrangements. I suggest the cremation route.

If you are considering spending 10k for a destitute widow, IMO it's being done incorrectly. It's difficult to think clearly in these situations (it was for me). But I had to be strong and think about taking the best actions I could to take care off mom in the long term.

My mom was 80+ at the time and someone had to take the lead, and it ended up being me. I suspect your sister's husband needs to take on the lead role.

I would also suggest getting mom setup with a HAMP loan reduction ASAP (HARP or whatever the current name is for the govt sponsered mortgage reduction program). I ended up getting my mom reduced from a $1300 to $600 mortgage @2%. Took some effort on my part. Let me know if you need details on that.

Best of luck, and I wish the best for you and your family in these trying times.

let the judgement fall on mom or whomever signed, they upsold too much. She will probably be able to settle at 1/2 the cost. Her family could get her some grocery gift cards or something when she pays something for the funeral. What happened with all the money people gave? That should be used to pay for the services - if nothing then they should have not made it what it was.

This will be your sister's and her husband's critical moment to say no. Because if they don't say no now, it will not end with the funeral costs.

They will continually be the people the family goes to for money for what will certainly be s string of financial "emergencies'. If they start funding the ill-responsible decisions and financial mismanagement of this family there will be no end to it.

Tell them to contribute some fair sum; perhaps $500-1000. Frankly, $1000 would be enough for a cremation and simple graveside burial, assuming they have a gravesite already (I'm a pastor, I know).

Family members will be angry. Probably the best long term thing to do is move far away and be the intelligent and responsible people they seem to be and raise their family in a different environment.

You've given the OP lots of options, so I'll go outside the box with a couple of thoughts.

Did the Dad 'own' his own rig? That's quite an asset that no one going to driving, sounds like.

I'm all for having a nice, small-town, last respects funeral - My family has an agriculture background, so I get it.

What I also get, is that 10k would pay HALF the remaining mortgage, perhaps a better use of this money in the long run. I think you'll have the least impact on family relations if there's an agreed-upon dollar input by everyone. If the 'baby' of the family has always looked up to 'big sisters', and then he's turned to fund it all, because of their own lack of income/willingness/desire to be employed, there's got to be a psychological impact there to some degree.

Seconded, funeral homes can be shaaady. They are coming in when people are most vulnerable and seemingly helping them through their grief. $$$ is what they're after. Also they've got "packages" to match all people's abilities to pay. A few years ago a family member passed and only had $5k from life insurance, and Oh wow... magically the entire funeral cost $5,024. Had he gotten a check from insurance for $10k I'm sure the funeral would have been $10,024. I was not a decision maker in the process or I would have done this:

Cremation, and no "funeral"

Look into this:
http://www.neptunesociety.com/
www.nautiluscremation.com

Cremation should be under $2,000. There are similar places all over, so find one near you. Have the loved one cremated and the ashes gathered. Then hold a remembrance for them and make the memory of the person be bigger than a gravestone. A friend was cremated and his family knew he loved the ocean, they "buried" the urn off the coast with a small plaque, and go visit it by diving out every once in a while. Not sure if they actually find the spot, and the plaque, but they dive out and it is something they share. Or scatter the ashes and plant a tree, and as the tree grows remember the person.

An example of how shady funeral homes can be: Even when you say you're going to go cremation, they'll tell you that an open casket, embalmed funeral will help everyone "grieve" and so they'll charge you to embalm, for casket rental, room usage, flowers, etc. Then they'll charge you for cremation and an urn. They'll actually make more if you go the cremation route!

The problem is that people are hurting and want closure. But that closure can really make for severe monitary hurt.

Keep in mind there is a social security death benefit. I think it is around $600 or so. Also, she should be able to start collecting survivor benefits.

Did he have any debts? When my father in law died (similar situation) we called his credit card company and they offered up front to cut the amount due in half.

gaffer said:   In certain cultures, funeral visitors (I'm not sure what the correct term is) would donate money to help with the funeral. Its a small town, so if he knew a lot and people liked him, you may get some funds to help with the cost.
What state is this small rural town in?
Illinois. They've announced in lieu of flowers to donate to funeral costs. Not sure how much that will bring.

My dad passed suddenly 3 years ago as well. We come from a solid financial background neither rich nor poor. There are companies that do cremation for $1.5k. If they have no money, then that is the only option. There is no reason for the daughter or SIL to fit the bill. $10k is a lot of money and completely unreasonable to even go that route when you do not have that much in assets.

I cannot think of the name of the company, but they are national. The service was AAAAAAA++++++. we could not have received a more loving response to a tragic situation.

My recommendation is to call a local Hospice. They will have much information to share.

At 58 and 59 they would not be old enough to get "survivor" benefits. You have to be eligible before you can collect.

BigRedNole said:   I cannot think of the name of the company, but they are national. The service was AAAAAAA++++++. we could not have received a more loving response to a tragic situation.

Someone above posted it. It is Neptune Society. It was so great, my mother got on their pre-paid plan. Gave them about $50 a month until it was fully paid. We hope not to have to use it for many years, but it is already covered when we do.

Call them and quickly. They are incredible.

Would the Dad have wanted a $10,000 funeral given the financial situation?

To add in before your brother in law ponys up a penny his two lazy sisters better do the same. They can get a job or do what ever. Priority to the new son or baby. The money to hold a ceremony would be much better spent on the new kid say for college ect.. If they try to run a guilt trip toss it right back. Respect in a family, not expect. Whoever made the call for the 10k venture regardless needs to be fully accountable. 1k would be more then generous from the son and if they even peeped about that he could ask how much they gave and who let him make the decisions of the service? I will never let someone write a blank check with my bankroll because if you let it happen once it will continue on.

offer to pay $2000 for a funeral and give mom $8000 cash over several years. Same payout, totally different results.

I paid 5K for my mom's funeral in the Northeast, 10K is a joke considering where they live. Split the cost evenly among the survivors. That being said, I would have no problem paying for my mom;'s funeral if my deadbeat sister couldn't contribute, which was the case. I planned the funeral though, and my mom would have wanted me to be frugal about it.

This is very sad but you have to pull out of that 10K funeral. They can't afford it and it is a huge burden.

I've always told my family to keep my funeral as low key as possible and cremate me. There is absolutely no reason for them to spend my/their money on a dead person. I want them to buy something nice for themselves and use that to remember me... Every time they look at that TV or singing Bass fish... it'll be me.

Well, as others said I'd drop the super expensive funeral. But, since you said to treat it as a given... then it sounds like your BIL and sister are SOL. The other siblings and their families have no money - they won't be any help at all.

solley said:   All -
Funeral is modest, intentionally, but will still run about $10k. Could it have been cheaper? I'm sure, but not the point of this post. Please treat the $10k as a given. Funeral home says they have 30 days to pay.

We had funeral for my father in law in a rural mid-west town a couple of years ago. It was quite fancy with a nice casket and we still fit it into $10K. Please don't treat your current cost it as a given and talk to another place if there is still time.

Did Dad have any specific wishes in terms of funeral? Cremation will definitely be a cheaper option. It is possible that the funeral home may push the traditional funeral, but you can counteract is by saying that Dad would not want everybody to go broke after he died.

Recently had a situation on my wife's side of the family, uncle passed away, had no money. All his brother's and sisters contributed enough to have a simple casket and funeral. I think they got by for less than $7k. Everyone threw money in, it was also asked that instead of flowers money be donated to help cover the costs, this was passed onto family and friends which raised about $1200.

This is where I've told my family to send me. If they want a service have it at our local church.

DIRECT OR SIMPLE CREMATION
Administration Fee
$315.00
Refrigeration of Unembalmed Body
--0--
Crematory Charges
$215.00
Transfer of Deceased to Crematory
(within 35 miles of city)
--0--
State Medical Examiners Permit
$150.00
Simple Urn
$15.00

Total of Direct Cremation Charges
$695.00

If any of my family needs burial costs covered, I would happily pay the same for them.

As much as people loves going into a funeral home and seeing that mahogany casket with all the frills, it's simply not worth it.
As someone said to me just a few months ago, Why spend BIG money on someone that you will never see, talk to or VISIT ever again!

It's so true too. I would rather be cremated, have my ashes spread on a baseball field and have the urn placed in someone's house who gave a damn about it.

Agree with post above saying this is a critical moment to say "no." It is irresponsible for people who have little to nothing to spend that much on a funeral--let alone to spend it and expect somone else to pay for it. Bro-in-law needs to talk to the family and explain his stance and explain that his father wouldn't want to put the family in a tough spot financially to cover an expensive funeral! Bro-in-law should contribute whatever he feels is "right." Maybe he can research the costs of a very basic & respectful funeral and contribute that amount (which is VERY generous) if the family wants to do more, they can pay for anything extra. Line needs to be drawn.

An Idea: (not a good idea mind you, just an idea)

Fatwallet finance has, in the past, demnded pics of some awful situation and then donated money when the pics were posted. Perhaps if you offered to post pics of the $30k house, the trailers, the army uniform, and the posh funeral home, we could gather up people willing to paypal you, say, $10 each until there's enough money in the pot to pay you for posting the pics.

Skipping 93 Messages...
why don't those two sisters work?? even without strong education, get a basic job is better than stay at home.



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