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funeral costs and responsibility - Page 2

post #21 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

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

I agree. I'm happy to split the cost of a basic cremation and simple marker or whatever, but if Cousin John decides to go all out and spend thousands of dollars without checking with me, I don't see why I would be obligated to split the bill and then never be allowed to complain about it. Because death is involved you're just supposed to fork over whatever amount of money someone tells you to, and shut up about it?

If there's a clear discussion and everyone is on board with the specifics of the service and the associated cost, fine, but the situation in the OP kind of sounds like the woman was just told, "Your share of Grandpa's funeral costs comes to $1,000." How many people were splitting up the cost? If it was only 3 or 4, then it makes sense, but if it was closer to 10 then the organizers should have made sure everyone was on board before making expensive choices. The OP is unclear, so maybe that did happen, who knows. But just because a situation is sensitive (because it involves death) doesn't mean that people can't be annoyed if they feel financially taken advantage of. I wouldn't go into debt to upgrade Grandpa's casket, sorry.
post #22 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by journeymom View Post

 

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. 

 

 

By morally (or ethically, I get those confused sometimes!) I meant responsibility.  For me, responsibility is a big part of morals/ethics….

 

Legally, as far as I know, no one is on the hook for body disposal.  If the person does not make arrangements or leave any money, and the heirs refuse to pay for anything, I imagine the body will be buried in a paupers grave by the state.

 

If no one has any money at all, then that is ethical in my eyes.  

 

If the heirs have any money, or there is any money in the estate, then forcing the state to pay for body disposal seems a little unethical.

 

Someone has to pay for body disposal, I don't think it is ethical to leave in to the tax payers unless you have no other option.

 

Figuring out who is responsible for body disposal is the purpose of this thread.  

post #23 of 45

The more I think about it the more nuanced this becomes. smile.gif  I can see reasons for both sides.  I wouldn't want to fork over $1000 for a service that I think is simply wrong. But I do think we have an obligation to each other.  So maybe lobby to change the plans, or pay a token amount, for the sake of family.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by grahamsmom98 View Post

 

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?   

 

What stopped us from disregarding Mom's final directive?  Because of just that, she had changed her mind.  As I said,  it wasn't ok to hassle Mom to change her mind back. In the balance it wasn't important enough to do so. She was already in a lot of pain and emotional agony, and was starting to lose it to the morphine drip. There was our grieving father to consider. He wanted everything done according to his wife's wishes. She said she wanted to be cremated.  I will forever be disappointed, because I think being donated to science was a brilliant idea and fit perfectly with Mom's atheist, science oriented life philosophy.  But being cremated was perfectly acceptable, as well.  I would have been very uneasy going against Mom's clear directions after she died, especially since it cost me nothing either way. I won't pretend to know better.

 

It's not black and white.

 

I should clarify that I cannot see trying to get my dad to do anything other than what Mom directed us to do, even after the fact.  I wouldn't have that conversation with him.


Edited by journeymom - 12/13/12 at 10:23am
post #24 of 45

I'd say that pre-planning and pre-payment are preferable. If not pre-paid, then I think the survivors are entitled to alter the plans if they can't afford the deceased's wishes. If the costs are to be shared, then there should be consensus on the arrangements and it should be within each family member's financial comfort level. 

 

I've found that it is helpful if the funeral has been pre-planned and pre-paid. It's a kindness to the survivors if someone has expressed their wishes and made their  arrangements. Having said that, neither DH nor I have made any kind of plans ourselves although we do have relatively recent wills. Hm, as an aside, I just realized that they were done 5 years ago, so they should be updated. 

 

MIL has made all her arrangements. She is 90 and in good health but likes to be organized. They purchased a plot in a local cemetery back in the 1950's when DH's sister was buried there. FIL was buried there a few years ago. The funeral service might be a little more difficult to organize because their church is likely to close soon due to the shrinking size of the congregation. So pre-planning may not be a complete answer if the plans aren't updated when circumstances change.

 

My father died after struggling with cancer. Nothing had been pre-arranged. My mother, siblings and I agreed about everything but even so, it was a lot to deal with and it would have been easier if we didn't have to think about all of the choices - type of service, location of service, type of officiant, who would speak, what casket, what music, what flowers, what transportation, where to hold a post-service gathering, what kind of food, what kind of drink.....  It was exhausting, at an already exhausting time. 

 

ETA: I've certainly never felt angry that my father didn't make any arrangements. The kind of anger described in the OP seems misplaced to me. I think it speaks to having a responsible, organized, conscientious personality if someone has pre-planned and pre-paid. I wouldn't disparage someone for not doing it though. 


Edited by ollyoxenfree - 12/13/12 at 10:42am
post #25 of 45

I haven't read all the responses yet. However I have a couple of thoughts.

 

1. I had a friend whose husband passed away when we were in out 20s. They had only been married about 6 months and were so poor they were living with her father at the time. He died in a car accident. She got something like a $50 death benefit from social security. She excepted that as the spouse it was her responsibility to pay but she ended up making small payments for a really long time and ended up getting a headstone at a later date. I was surprised that his parents didn't feel they should take on some of the responsibility for costs. I helped her plan it so I know that they didn't offer to help pay for any of it. The church donated all of their time for the service and luncheon afterward. However quite simply the preparation of the body and grave site were quite expensive. 

 

2. A small insurance policy that would be enough to cover a funeral (around 10k) is very inexpensive. I do think that if it at all possible people should have a minimal insurance policy for this. I have life insurance that will make sure my children are not left with debt and just a little bit to provide for them. However, I also have small (10k) policies on each of my children to cover funeral expenses if the worst were to every happen. I cannot imagine grieving and adding the stress of funeral expenses onto the tragedy. 

post #26 of 45

hmmm you guys got me thinking. i have nothing stated. my estate comes to nothing except donations to the thrift store. i know i am not in the elderly range yet, but perhaps its something to think about. i should call and ask about donating to science. the cool thing about donating to science is later you do have the option of getting your ashes back. that i know will be important for dd.  

 

my dd has known since she was 4 what i want for a funeral. honestly i dont really care. however i know my dd does and i have to figure out a way to help her with the grief. she being the social person i think a rememberance party will be good for her. 

 

so i do have a casual funeral planned (i am assuming that is what it is called. not memorial service) the key is a bunch of friends at a friends house gathered to grieve with dd. it would be a potluck thing and i know my friends would do it for dd. maybe even a camping trip or hike. 

 

before the idea of me being dead became v. painful for dd we talked about what we'd like for my funeral/service. so she has always known my wishes and never has to second guess it. it comes into conversation once in a rare while esp. when we go to a service and like elements of it. 

 

dd has also expressed what she would like for her service <shudder> we both would like to be on the tower of silence with the birds eating us and then collecting the bones that fall below... but not sure if there is such a place anywhere in the US. http://socks-studio.com/2012/02/09/towers-of-silence-zoroastrian-architectures-for-the-ritual-of-death/

post #27 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

hmmm you guys got me thinking. i have nothing stated. my estate comes to nothing except donations to the thrift store. i know i am not in the elderly range yet, but perhaps its something to think about. i should call and ask about donating to science. the cool thing about donating to science is later you do have the option of getting your ashes back. that i know will be important for dd.  

 

 

Yeah, I googled donating my body to science because of this thread.  It is very doable where I live, and free, other than the cost of getting the body there, and you get the ashes when they are done.  

 

I really would not mind it if my body was donated to science, and then a memorial party was held afterwards or when the ashes were returned. 

post #28 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

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?  

 

I think if someone has a specific request for their remains/services then they should try to make arrangements as easy as possible for their survivors to accomadate- that could include insurance or pre-paid arrangements. I feel that if someone has not specified anything then it isn't terrible or irresponsible of them to not leave funding behind earmarked for a funeral.

 

When my mother died she did have insurance that covered funeral costs and my parents had bought plots at a cemetary when I was a young child. I do wish she had designated how to dispose of her things- even if she didn't want to have a formal will. She never really even said in conversation that she'd like Bob to have her stamp collection for example. I think it has been more stressful dealing with all her things rather than the funeral expenses.

 

I don't really care about a funeral for me as I'll be dead so I wouldn't leave a large fund for that purpose. I don't really care much what happens to my body at that point.  I told dh and dd I'd prefer to be cremated but obviously they can and should choose to do what seems right for them. I hope no one goes broke or feels angry with me over this issue when I die but it will be their issue not mine.

post #29 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post

Yeah, I googled donating my body to science because of this thread.  It is very doable where I live, and free, other than the cost of getting the body there, and you get the ashes when they are done.  

 

I really would not mind it if my body was donated to science, and then a memorial party was held afterwards or when the ashes were returned. 

kathy my xfil donated his body to science. it cost us not a penny - not even to get the body there. but you have to go through their paperwork process and have to be approved beforehand. he did it in his early 40s after his first heart attack, but he died at 86. 

 

so... now the memorial party has to happen right after the death. not a while later. most of my best friends are male. so they would need an outlet for their grief. which is why i have planned multiple parties depending on the situation and time frame to be done when its convenient to all. so i have a gathering for the women and a weekend camping trip for the men. i am not sure if i will have teh funds for the camping trip but i know a couple of my friends would be happy to organize and pay for it. 

 

dd adn a few friends of mine have talked about the disposal of my ashes. its a tradition we do for our pets too. our family dogs ashes today are in many different gardens all over the US. 

post #30 of 45

I wrote into my will that I did not want one dollar spent on my corpse. So, I guess that puts me in the camp of "No; the funeral costs should not be the families' burden", but I have seen really creative fundraising for funerals and there are typically donations given at funerals...

 

I'll admit that lavish funerals really baffle me.

post #31 of 45

Hmm. I think it's thoughtful, caring and responsible to put aside money for the funeral/burial costs; just as it's thoughtful, caring and responsible to make a will, ensure the garage isn't full of 60 years of accumulated junk, and otherwise ensure that your children can grieve peacefully when you die, instead of being inundated with stuff to do.

 

But I wouldn't go so far as to think badly of anyone who didn't. I can see why it wouldn't cross one's mind!

 

I know Dad's donating some body parts, and has come around to the idea of cremation since he found out it was cheaper. Not sure about Mum - I'll ask her! Either way I imagine the funeral would be held at our church with potluck refreshments, so would be basically free - and I'm sure neither of 'em would want fancy coffins or anything. Our family in general subscribes to the "I'm not using my body any more, chuck it on the compost if you want" mentality.

post #32 of 45

I don't know about new zealand, but in the US, you can't chuck a body in the compost. It isn't allowed.

 

I really don't think there is a cheap option -- though some options are obviously less expensive than others. Particularly in families that live pay check to pay check, very basic dead body disposal is a major expense. A lot of people really don't want to sign over their loved one's body to science, especially the person didn't indicate that that was their preference. And most people don't want a loved one in pauper's grave.

 

None of the funerals I've attended have been lavish events, and the norm is for the meal to be at a church. None the less, the final expenses still ran thousands of dollars. A traditional burial and funeral can easily cost 10K

http://www.ehow.com/facts_7458153_much-casket-cost_.html

 

This isn't for a catered dinner and party -- this is for preparing a body for burial and the stuff to bury them in, digging a hole, getting them there, etc .

 

A cremation (not counting any service) runs $800 to $2,000.

http://www.ehow.com/how_4887859_cost-of-cremation-area.html

 

I find the notion of not discussing and planning for these things a bit odd and selfish -- it's refusing to own that it would be traumatic for other people if you died. I was there when my grandmother died, and I know what the following days were like for my mother and aunt. It was rough. And everything was as set up as possible and her death was not a surprise. None the less, they were both complete wrecks faced with a wide variety of decisions that they needed to make very quickly. Thank goodness that mutually coming up with thousands of dollars wasn't part of it.

 

Many families end up with major rifts after a death. Perhaps a part of that is the financial end. As grown children have different amounts of money and different priorities, there is no way to make this "fair. "

 

Would you really want your children to end up angry with each other over the money required to do something (whatever) with your dead body?

post #33 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post

I don't know about new zealand, but in the US, you can't chuck a body in the compost. It isn't allowed.

 

I really don't think there is a cheap option -- though some options are obviously less expensive than others.

 

 

The compost comment was likely a bit of humour, but there is this earlier comment from journeymom: 

 

 

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.

 

I have a vague memory of listening to a documentary radio program (maybe NPR, maybe This American Life) about low cost "green" burials with no embalming and no casket - only a shroud. It would certainly minimize the costs even if a cemetery plot was purchased. I thought it was an interesting idea. I expect that laws vary in different areas about where these burials can happen. I wouldn't be surprised if cemeteries had their own rules about embalming and what kind of casket is acceptable for burial, even if local laws permit a green burial. 

post #34 of 45

Yes, the compost comment was a joke.

 

I read a book recently - bought it for Mum for Christmas, actually - called "Stiff", and it was all about uses for dead bodies. Fascinating. You can donate your body to a Body Farm, where they leave you out to decompose and study the size of the maggots at various stages, etc, for forensic research. You can be a crash test dummy, or parts of you can be used in safety tests for all kinds of things. You can be cremated and made into a LifeGem (diamond), if that floats your boat. You can have your head sawn off so plastic surgeons can practice their nose jobs and collagen injections. You can be plastinated. You can be dissected by med students, although apparently a lot of med schools aren't doing that any more. You can donate your organs, skin and even bones (the latter was news to me - apparently they put pipes in your limbs afterwards, so you don't look - in the autho's words - "noodley" in your coffin).

 

The author also mentioned a few new, eco-friendly methods of body disposal. I can't remember the details... and I've wrapped up the book, so I can't go check. :p I know one involved a large vat and a centrifuge and some kind of slurry... and another (or was it the same one?) ended up with compost.

 

Anyway, if you're not too easily skeeved, I highly recommend the book.

post #35 of 45

actually since the word compost has been brought up dead animals and humans make GREAT compost. i think its the blood apart from anything else. anyplace there is a dead animal or human buried - that exact area grows the lushest the next spring. actually sudden lush vegetation is something archeologists use as signs of some archeological interest there. in fact that's how a lot of ruins were found. 

 

what is interesting in the fertile crescent when urban areas first started right after agriculture first started, people were buried in their apartments and stayed right there with their family. 

post #36 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by lanamommyphd07 View Post

I wrote into my will that I did not want one dollar spent on my corpse. So, I guess that puts me in the camp of "No; the funeral costs should not be the families' burden", but I have seen really creative fundraising for funerals and there are typically donations given at funerals...

 

I'll admit that lavish funerals really baffle me.

 

But, there will have to be money spent on your corpse, if it is to be buried or cremated.  This is beyond any funeral costs (which it sounds like you are against). 

 

Have you specified, exactly, what you want done with your body??

 

For me, the idea of donating a family member's body to med school just skeeves me to no end.  I knew a couple of medical students and have friends that are doctors.  There wasn't much respect when they talked of their cadavers in med school, making rude comments and calling them coarse names.  Yes, their jokes and nicknames for the corpses were a way of dealing with the idea, but it still showed a lack of respect. 

 

I can understand the forensics idea, but I still couldn't do it.

post #37 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Caneel View Post

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?

When my father died, he left cash to pay for his funeral. My mother has a life insurance policy to cover hers. Both of my in-laws have pre-paid funerals as do DH's two surviving grandparents (one in her 80s and one in his 90s). I am not sure about my grandparents although I'm sure that they have insurance. If not, we will come up with the total cost and split it between whoever can pay. That's the expectation in our family. We have a pretty wide range of incomes and family situations, and no one would ever fault anyone who just couldn't help pay at that time.

post #38 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by grahamsmom98 View Post

 

 

For me, the idea of donating a family member's body to med school just skeeves me to no end.  I knew a couple of medical students and have friends that are doctors.  There wasn't much respect when they talked of their cadavers in med school, making rude comments and calling them coarse names.  Yes, their jokes and nicknames for the corpses were a way of dealing with the idea, but it still showed a lack of respect. 

 

I can understand the forensics idea, but I still couldn't do it.

I want to donate my body, and I've looked into it. For me, giving to others is one of the most fundamental parts of who I am, and somewhere along the way I thought "well, hey, it makes sense that my body would be one final gift." When I looked into it, though, I saw that they actually take very few of the bodies that people are willing to give, so I'll still have to make other arrangements.

post #39 of 45

Prepaid funerals aren't always a good idea. If the home goes out of business, you've wasted your money.

 

You can get a small life insurance policy that is intended to cover cremation/death costs. That is what my grandmother had, $5k to cover her after she passed. I think her cremation costs less than $2k. We did a floating/biodegradable urn and did a ceremony ourselves. 

post #40 of 45
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by VisionaryMom View Post

I want to donate my body, and I've looked into it. For me, giving to others is one of the most fundamental parts of who I am, and somewhere along the way I thought "well, hey, it makes sense that my body would be one final gift." When I looked into it, though, I saw that they actually take very few of the bodies that people are willing to give, so I'll still have to make other arrangements.

I think people need to look into this where they are.

 

It seems the universities in this area will accept most bodies people are willing to donate.  There are a few things that make your body not giveable (one is an autopsy) so folks, look into it where you live ahead of time!

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