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funeral costs and responsibility

post #1 of 45
Thread Starter 

I was on another forum, and a women was ranting about the fact her grandfather died and they each had to pay out $1000 for the funeral. She was angry with her grandfather for not leaving  money or insurance to cover the burial.  I do not get the sense that anyone in her family had any money, not the grandfather, not the children, not the grandchildren…..

 

I did not comment (she was venting and grieving)…but I did not really understand the anger.  In my family of origin, it is expected that children pay for the funeral of elderly deceased parents.  No one complains about it - and while I am sure no one likes taking the financial hit - there is never this sense of anger floating around that they have to pay for a funeral and so-and-so should have had a policy.

 

My mother is on a fixed income.  I really do not expect her to spend what little extra money she has on life insurance or burial insurance.

 

So, lets keep it to elderly adults  (I think younger adults with children living at home are a different ball game).

 

Do you think it is the responsibility of all older adults to leave money of some sort for burial?  Does the answer depend on income level?  

post #2 of 45

Like a wedding, if a funeral is important to a person, they should make sure there is money in place for it to happen. 

 

I don't think it is the responsibility of the surviving family members of any age to foot the bill.  If their budget can afford it AND they want to throw a funeral, fine, but if it is a financial strain, I don't think they should be obiligated to pay/contribute towards it.

 

My family has comparison shopped for cremation services so obviously, we don't place value of spending money on the typical funeral expenses such as caskets, flowers, headstones, etc.

post #3 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caneel View Post

 

 

I don't think it is the responsibility of the surviving family members to foot the bill.  If their budget can afford it AND they can agree on the level of spending, fine, but if it is a financial strain, I don't think they should be obiligated to pay/contribute towards it.

 

 

Hmmm….legally, I am not sure whose responsibility it is to foot the bill.

 

It is not the person who will be deceased, nor is it the families (as far as I know, neither legally have to have insurance for burial)….so I guess it is the states responsibility?

 

Morally, is a different story…...

post #4 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caneel View Post

Like a wedding, if a funeral is important to a person, they should make sure there is money in place for it to happen. 

 

 

Missed this first go round…if a funeral is not important to a person, but it is to the surviving family, should the person be obligated to set aside money for it?

post #5 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

Hmmm….legally, I am not sure whose responsibility it is to foot the bill.

 

It is not the person who will be deceased, nor is it the families (as far as I know, neither legally have to have insurance for burial)….so I guess it is the states responsibility?

 

Morally, is a different story…...

 

I think the bill would be paid out of the estate.  

 

If there aren't any assets, I wonder what happens if no one steps up?  If the person passes at a hospital or nursing home and no one claims the body, I assume the state somehow ends up footing the bill for a simple resolution.  (I don't know how else to state it.)

 

Does social security provide some sort of death benefit? 

 

When my father passed away at home, my step-bro called around to a few places to inquire about costs and went with the least expensive.  This isn't nearly as uncaring as it sounds, my father was VERY clear about his wishes.  He did not want money spent on a funeral.  So if a person passes at home, someone is going to need to make the arrangements so I am guessing when they sign the contract, they then take on the responsibility to pay the bills.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

Missed this first go round…if a funeral is not important to a person, but it is to the surviving family, should the person be obligated to set aside money for it?

 

In my opinion, no.

 

Interesting topic.  I will be curious to read other opinions.

 

I have noticed many more death notices/obituraries are stating that the family requests donations to pay for the funeral. 

 

Yes, I read the notices - small town and am getting to the age where friends of grand parents and parents are passing away for frequently.

post #6 of 45
I agree with Caneel. Funerals are not really part of my family's culture. We would do a simple cremation and a very low key memorial gathering of some type but it just doesn't cost much money at all. I can't think of anyone in my family that expects a big extravagant production but if they would want that it would be up to them to arrange that ahead of time and to prepay. We've all talked for years about what a waste of money elaborate funerals are so it's not something anyone expects.I'm sad that the grandchild has this kind of bitterness and resentment instead of happy memories of their grandparent. Would you want
post #7 of 45

Wanted to add - I think pre-paid funerals were more common one, two or more generations ago.  I remember my DH's grandfather talking about how he prepaid both his and his wife's funerals back in the 60s.

 

I don't know anyone who had a prepaid funeral.  (I am in my early 40s)  Does anyone else?

post #8 of 45

I think it's the responsible thing to do if you can.  It's great if you can. I don't think you are responsible to so, however. Hope that makes sense. Most people through out history haven't planned for and paid for their own funeral.  I'm with you, Kathy, I think family members pay for what they can and shouldn't pout.

 

I can see grumbling about having to shell out money for someone who hadn't been particularly friendly or loving throughout life. Or for someone who'd never been particularly responsible and leaves behind a string of messes.

 

However!  I do think that if you can then you should plan and pay for your funeral (casket and plot, etc.) I acknowledge that it's become something of an expectation for a certain level of society. It's like saving money for retirement or for disability.  Plan as best you can so that you pay your way throughout your life and aren't a burden on the next generation.

 

Either you pay for grandfather's funeral or you don't.  You're only hurting your living family members if you refuse to chip in.

 

Edited to add, I read to obits occasionally too. I've learned about several former teachers and my parents' friends' passing.


Edited by journeymom - 12/13/12 at 8:37am
post #9 of 45
My grandparent generation all pre paid and knew exactly what they wanted (type of casket, plot, clothing, etc) Can't get my parents to sit down and discuss anything. Unless they say otherwise, they will get a simple cremation either funded from the estate or divided among the kids.

Due to all this I have talked to my dd. cremation and sit on a shelf for me!
post #10 of 45

I cannot imagine complaining in public (or at all, really) about meeting the final wishes of an elder family member.  Should my own parents die with no arrangements made, I will do whatever I need to do in order to see their last wishes met and them sent over in style.  I also cannot imagine not making arrangements for myself when I am of an age where my own death is in the near future.  So I suppose that for us, the "responsibility" is shared equally. 

post #11 of 45

in this culture i think its the older person's responsibility to do something about it. or let wishes be known. 

 

i think the persons who have the expendable income should pay for the services. i think i would hate it if my mom spent what little of her income she gets on cremation expenses when i and others could easily foot the bill without hardship to us.

 

if both sides suffer financial hardship, then i think its the elders responsibility to look for at least a cheap option like donating the body to science which is free - if they have such a service where they are and the parameters are assessed.

 

i have issues with single no family elderly - who i guess expect their friends to pitch in after whatever is left over from the estate. sometimes hardly enough. they have never researched how much it is and dont bother to do anything about it. i know its hard, but one needs to be responsible about it.

 

all my elder family members have a cremation policy ready and paid up. 

 

social security does pay something, but its a v. piddly amount. 

 

i wonder how much is basic cremation cost? a couple of thousand? no idea. 

 

so what would be the cheapest method to 'dispose' of the body?

post #12 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

Either you pay for grandfather's funeral or you don't.  You're only hurting your living family members if you refuse to chip in.

 

Just as a point of discussion - what if the scale/expense of the funeral exceeds the grandchild's comfort level?  For example, what if Cousin John runs up a $20,000 bill for grandpa's funeral when a $5,000 funeral would have been good enough?  Ideally, the ones paying for the event would sit down and be in agreement but I suspect that doesn't always happen.

 

No surprise, I am not a fan of the funeral home industry.  Yes it is necessary but I think they prey on the emotions of the survivors, as it throwing a ton of money into a funeral will somehow "honor" the decreased or lessen the grief.  We were asked to pay for a funeral a couple of years back and I was shocked beyond belief by the cost.  This was a family of very modest means that spent more money then they could afford.  We did not contribute.  (It was not a family member)

post #13 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

Hmmm….legally, I am not sure whose responsibility it is to foot the bill.

 

It is not the person who will be deceased, nor is it the families (as far as I know, neither legally have to have insurance for burial)….so I guess it is the states responsibility?

 

Morally, is a different story…...

There is a difference between after-death costs and funeral costs.  Burial/cremation costs are separate, as are the costs of an obituary in the paper and the extra death certificates that will be needed to settle an estate.  A funeral is the ceremony honoring the dead prior to burial.  A memorial is generally held after the burial, so no body is present. 

 

Nobody is LEGALLY obligated to pay for a funeral.  And, it is certainly not the obligation of the state!!  Many religions require/desire a funeral as a part of their culture.  

 

What do morals have to do with it?.  A dead person needs to be either buried, cremated or donated to science (I could never do this last thing, but many others do).  That's not morality, that's simple clean-up. 

 

The state (city/county) cover the costs for burial of indigent/unknowns, after a certain amount of time has passed and no next-of-kin are found.  Cemeteries generally provide generic plots in what used to be called "pauper's field," a special place on their grounds for these cases.  Often, these areas are not maintained to the same level as the rest of the landscape.  Many times, more than one body is placed in a single plot, in these cases (generally 2 per plot).  Generally, no marker is placed (budget-restrictive), but a record of plot location and an ID number is filed in their records (ie:  Jane Doe, coroner's case #, date, etc).  

 

For everyone else, there is no obligation to even have a funeral.  We don't "do" funerals in my family.  We find them creepy and so nobody has one.  However, burial/cremation is necessary (a ceremony to accompany it is not) and those do cost something.

 

If a funeral is NOT desired by the deceased (and, they made their feelings on this subject known to all), I think it is only right to respect their wishes.  Quite honestly, when they are dead, they are, so to speak, out of the argument when it comes to the desires of the survivors!

 

If a person desires a funeral, for themselves, then they should try to have a pre-need plan in place.  I realize not everyone can afford to do this.  So, reality check:  if you want a funeral but can't afford it, why should you obligate others to pay for your wishes??  Burial/cremation costs should be considered and you should try to spare anyone that expense, at the very least.

 

So, if those survivors want a funeral, then they are the ones that should pay for it.  And, they don't have to go overboard on the expenses!!!  A marker can be as simple or elaborate as wishes and checkbook allow.  Or, don't have any at all.  No rule says a marker has to exist!    

 

My wonderful Mom died in July.  She had already chosen to be cremated.  There was more than enough money to cover the costs associated with cremation.  Cremation came to under $1,000 (which included the cost of a cardboard cremation box).  We bought the 2 containers for her ashes on Amazon (around $150, total, for both).  The hole was already prepared (opening and closing cost, $200) in the same plot where my Dad is buried the plot was purchased many, many years ago).  We placed the urn in (well, dh had to, my arms weren't long enought to reach down that far), along with 4 roses (one from each dh, ds and myself, and then one in memory of Dad).  They covered the urn with dirt and that was that.  The other urn is in our living room, per ds's request.  We're having a wonderfully unique joint Mom-Dad marker made and it will be placed in the late Winter or early Spring.  The marker will cost around $2,000.  We don't mind spending the money on a marker, as that lasts, a funeral is for a few minutes.

 

When my fil dies, there will be no funeral, only a mass said.  Dh & I are worn-out on 10+ years of eldercare and couldn't stomach a funeral if we had to.  So, dh will have a mass said for his Dad and taht is that as far as ceremonies.  His Dad will be cremated and be in the same plot as cremated mil.  Marker is already in place, his date of death just needs to be added.

 

I thnk the best thing to do is to talk to a funeral director waaaaaaaaaay before this subject is crucial.  Do it when feelings are not an issue and a clear head can not be steered one way or another as far as costs/charges related to things.  We had a friend that was "talked into" a very expensive cremation casket for her Dad (she was actually told that to do it any other way was like using a cigar box to hold her Dad's remains prior to cremation!).  She paid a ridiculous amount only to have it burned up.  Had she discussed this earlier, or brought along someone with a clearer head when she visited the funeral home after her Dad died, she would have saved money that she really needed.  To pay for his funeral, she had to quit school for awhile, until her finances were topped-off again.  That is NOT how it should be!

post #14 of 45

My mom learned she had lung cancer and had half a year to live. She arranged to donate her body to the med school.  Her well-meaning hospice nurse convinced her to change her mind, thinking we, her adult kids, would be hurt or upset about it. Instead we were all a little ticked off about the change. But by the time we found out it just didn't seem ok to go through the hassle of trying to get Mom to change her mind.

 

No, I haven't made any plans for my own service, but we do have life insurance to pay for it.  We also don't have wills, and we should already.  Perhaps I'll specify that if I'm too old or used up to part out to people in need, I should be donated to science. 

 

I have a vague memory of having a conversation here at MDC about burial services, and someone had a link to a place that offers 'green' burials: buried in a forest setting without headstones, only wrapped, not in a casket.  That seems pretty cool, too.

post #15 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caneel View Post

 

Just as a point of discussion - what if the scale/expense of the funeral exceeds the grandchild's comfort level?  For example, what if Cousin John runs up a $20,000 bill for grandpa's funeral when a $5,000 funeral would have been good enough?  Ideally, the ones paying for the event would sit down and be in agreement but I suspect that doesn't always happen.

 

 

 

I basically agree with this.  It is the responsibility of someone to pay for or arrange disposal of the body, and that is going to cost something.

 

However, if either the person or the family wants something beyond basic, then it is the responsibility of the person who wants the elaborate service to provide it.

 

Ex:  I will gladly pay for a basic service for my mom, but if she wants something beyond basic, she needs to ante up.  Likewise, if my mom did not care about a fancy service, but I did, it would be my job to ante up for a fancy service

post #16 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

 

I have a vague memory of having a conversation here at MDC about burial services, and someone had a link to a place that offers 'green' burials: buried in a forest setting without headstones, only wrapped, not in a casket.  That seems pretty cool, too.

 

Mother Earth News has an article a year or so ago about home burials.  It was interesting.

 

I think my dad's cremation was just under a $1,000.  I know we didn't opt for a casket.

post #17 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

My mom learned she had lung cancer and had half a year to live. She arranged to donate her body to the med school.  Her well-meaning hospice nurse convinced her to change her mind, thinking we, her adult kids, would be hurt or upset about it. Instead we were all a little ticked off about the change. But by the time we found out it just didn't seem ok to go through the hassle of trying to get Mom to change her mind.

 

No, I haven't made any plans for my own service, but we do have life insurance to pay for it.  We also don't have wills, and we should already.  Perhaps I'll specify that if I'm too old or used up to part out to people in need, I should be donated to science. 

 

I have a vague memory of having a conversation here at MDC about burial services, and someone had a link to a place that offers 'green' burials: buried in a forest setting without headstones, only wrapped, not in a casket.  That seems pretty cool, too.

 

I'm sorry for your loss.  But, I don't see the problem.  Your Mom changed her mind about donating her body to the med school.  What stopped you from following through on your Mom's original wishes after she died? 

 

Yes, please do make your will and wishes known NOW.  There is no telling what could happen to you tomorrow or the next day (or, even tonight).  Not trying to be morbid, but there are no guarantees as to how much time we have.  Making a will is very easy (there are even standard forms available online) and it only needs to be notarized to be valid.  But, the best thing is to look into your own state's laws, example:  do you know how to avoid probate in your state?  I've found the cost of an attorney well worth it when it comes to these types of legalities!!!   

post #18 of 45

My grandparents had prepaid funerals, grave sites, and headstones. They approached this the same way they did everything else in their lives -- very simply, shopping around, and doing it as they had the money.   Once they had everything set up, they would drive out and visit their grave together -- all the information was on the headstone except for the date of death.

 

It made it very easy for their children and grandchildren when they passed.

 

These were not people with a lot of money. They had 8th grade educations and worked blue collar jobs. They were just very responsible and organized and thoughtful of others.

 

My parents have some things set up, but not nearly to the degree that my grandparents did. They have pre-paid funeral expenses and grave sites, but no headstones. They've let me and my sister know where all the information is.

 

My DH and I have had made sure there is enough money set aside for final expenses should something happen to one of us. To me, that's just part of being an adult. We keep changing our minds about what we want to have done (cremation vs burial) so prepaying wouldn't make sense for us. It is something I can see us doing at some point to simplify things for our children. The loss of a parent is devastating. Most funerals and burials are planned in one day and I think it is a totally unreasonable thing to dump on one's children. (But I've helped plan 2 funerals and burials --- it's very, very stressful)

 

Someone asked about social security, and there is a death benefit, but it is not enough to cover even a very cheap burial. Some cities have funeral homes that don't allow follows and instead, mourners donate the amount of money they would have spent on flowers to go toward the funeral expenses.
 

If no one wants to pay for burial, the body can be signed over for science or placed in a paupers grave.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_a_pauper%27s_grave

 

Unresolved medical expenses that the estate cannot cover are written off (so in a way, we all pay for them).

 

My grandparents taught me that funerals are for the living, as a way to help process grief. They are NOT for the person who died, who is dead and not getting anything out of it. Failing to provide the wherewithal for this is selfish.   I was a teen when my grandparents got all their stuff together and we would talk about it. They did it for their children. They didn't want to burden anyone.

post #19 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

 

 

My grandparents taught me that funerals are for the living, as a way to help process grief. They are NOT for the person who died, who is dead and not getting anything out of it. 

 

I agree…therefore I think it is ultimately the grievers responsibility to pay for it.

 

I think it is nice for the person to prepay  if they can, make their wishes known, and if they have the where-withal, provide some money to cover the basics of body disposal.  I don't think it should be a societal expectation, though.

post #20 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by grahamsmom98 View Post

There is a difference between after-death costs and funeral costs. Burial/cremation costs are separate, as are the costs of an obituary in the paper and the extra death certificates that will be needed to settle an estate.  A funeral is the ceremony honoring the dead prior to burial.  A memorial is generally held after the burial, so no body is present. 

 

Nobody is LEGALLY obligated to pay for a funeral.  And, it is certainly not the obligation of the state!!  Many religions require/desire a funeral as a part of their culture.  

 

What do morals have to do with it? Who are you directing this question to?  Perhaps you don't intend it, but your tone -all caps, underlines, double explanation points- seems unnecessarily angry.   A dead person needs to be either buried, cremated or donated to science (I could never do this last thing, but many others do).  That's not morality, that's simple clean-up. 

 

Kathy, by 'morally' are you talking about the social obligation we have to each other?  Sorry, I know you said that was a different story. 

 

 

Quote:
- what if the scale/expense of the funeral exceeds the grandchild's comfort level?

 

Yeah, that can be tough. I don't think the grandchild is obligated to pay more than is reasonable. But I still think they should give some money. It might lead to an uncomfortable conversation, but that's life.  "Sorry Auntie, $1000 is too steep for my pocketbook, but I'm willing to provide $______."  And then the ball is back in the organizer's court. 

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