Author Topic: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral  (Read 6631 times)

MillenialMustache

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I don't want to get into the details, but basically my niece was born Monday and died yesterday. She was in NICU the entire time. I can only assume the bill for this will be very large. My SIL and BIL do not have much spare money (SIL stays at home, BIL is a pilot and they already have one child). The funeral costs are going to be split between my in-laws and the father's parents. In-laws also do not have much money, living on social security and a small pension. No one has asked us for any money, but my husband wants to help (as do I).

How much would you give?

We also aren't sure if we should give money to both parties (medical expenses and funeral) or just one party. Help there would be appreciated too.

We are doing well for ourselves, we have money saved that is set aside for purchasing our second rental home, we own one rental home (currently vacant, renters just left a few weeks ago, bad timing), we currently both work full-time and plan to retire in the next couple of years for me, and maybe the next five years for him. We are 28.

Thanks for any thoughts.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2015, 01:02:18 PM by MillenialMustache »

dsmexpat

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2015, 01:04:39 PM »
Most high end funeral homes will waive their fees in these cases and charge just for merchandise (and if they have attached cemetery space then for the space). If you go with cremation with family keeping the ashes then you're looking at just a cremation container (can Costco it if you really want to) and an urn (again you can provide your own or simply accept the cardbox box they gave you). If you're willing to provide your own then you could have the entire thing done for $50 with change.

Speak with them about their wishes and get quotes from funeral homes. If you know what they want (clergy/take home ashes/scattering tube/put them on the mantlepiece) then I can provide a very rough estimate for you about what that ought to cost without service charges. Burial will be more of course because you have to buy the land.

Might be worth calling the nearest national cemetery if you need land, he and his wife and entitled to be interred in a plot (one on top of the other, double depth normally) there due to his status in the military, honestly I'm not sure about the premature deaths of children but absolutely ask.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2015, 01:09:30 PM by dsmexpat »

MillenialMustache

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2015, 01:07:01 PM »
Most high end funeral homes will waive their fees in these cases and charge just for merchandise (and if they have attached cemetery space then for the space). If you go with cremation with family keeping the ashes then you're looking at just a cremation container (can Costco it if you really want to) and an urn (again you can provide your own or simply accept the cardbox box they gave you). If you're willing to provide your own then you could have the entire thing done for $50 with change.

Speak with them about their wishes and get quotes from funeral homes.

I know there will be a burial, not a cremation, as they are very religious. We are planning to call tonight and see how much the funeral is going to cost. They have been calling people all day today.

I guess I am more concerned about how much to give for the medical expenses too.

bogart

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2015, 01:09:47 PM »
I'm so sorry for your family's loss.

If the grandparents have expressed a commitment and assuming they are capable of covering the cost of the funeral expenses, I would think you may want to provide support elsewhere. 

I cannot tell from your post whether you know anything about the financial costs your niece's parents will be incurring or not -- whether there is lost income for your BIL (or whether he may have PTO or other flexibility that will keep the financial impacts of missed work down), or whether they have the kind of insurance that will cover the vast majority of the costs of your niece's care, or not.  If you do know enough to make an "informed" contribution (toward an area where there is a need), I think I'd pick how much you can/want to give, and give that in a no-strings-attached way but with a card expressing your sorrow and the hopes that the funds may help defray the costs of [whatever you have chosen] or other expenses, as needed.

If you don't know much at all about the family's financial needs as those relate to the loss of their daughter, you might consider asking them whether you could (a) help with financial needs of the family or (b) give a donation to a cause to memorialize their daughter.  March of Dimes is an obvious choice that springs to mind for perinatal death, but there may be others that are more appropriate/preferred/relevant to your family's particular situation.  I'd guess they may well choose the former, but offering the latter lets it be their decision, if they feel up to making such a decision.

I have no idea how much is the "right" amount and think that is a deeply personal decision.  We recently dealt with this ourselves twice, as a member of our extended family was dying and then for his funeral/family's needs after his death, and each time we pretty much just pulled a number out of hat and wrote a check for that amount -- it was enough that it was "difficult" for us (significant impingement on discretionary funds for a short time) and hopefully was useful to the family, but not enough honestly (rightly or wrongly) that it will impact our family's long-term financial well-being or plans.

swick

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2015, 01:10:27 PM »
I'm so sorry, MillenialMustache :(

This is a really tough situation. Is there anyone you ca talk to so you can get a better idea of what they need? I think a lot of advice would depend on how close you are and how the lines of communication within your family work.

There are a couple of ways you could go about it:

 - Look over our finances and determine how much you can afford to give comfortably and let them do what they need to with it.

  - If you can find out how much the hospital bills are and how they will be paid, you might be able to come up with the most optimal way of paying for them. Perhaps the hospital will give a discount if they can be paid in cash or with a partial cash payment? Will the bills be going on credit card?  Maybe a gift/interest free loan option would work if the bills are too much for them.

 - If other family members are covering the funeral expenses - I would focus on helping with the hospital bills. Especially if those covering it are financially stable. The funeral will probably expand to cover the amount of funds donated. The hospital bills will most likely be much larger and the extra weight of trying to figure out the money might be too much for the parents to deal with right now.

dsmexpat

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #5 on: April 16, 2015, 01:16:26 PM »
Costs vary pretty hugely around the country but I'd be happy to ask a co-worker for a back of the napkin quote. Coffin, land and a headstone will be the primary expenses if you can have the fee waived, coffins are as much as you wish to pay for them, land and headstone will vary more but if you think you can put together a thousand or so between the grandparents and yourselves you ought to be able to tell them that you'll get it taken care of according to their wishes. Hospital fees I couldn't speculate about but those can wait, the funeral needs to be taken care of now and that's a way in which you can help at the time they need it most.

I'll ask what we charge for our perinatal section, it won't be accurate but it'll serve as a starting point.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2015, 01:36:46 PM by dsmexpat »

MillenialMustache

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #6 on: April 16, 2015, 01:18:50 PM »
I'm so sorry, MillenialMustache :(

This is a really tough situation. Is there anyone you ca talk to so you can get a better idea of what they need? I think a lot of advice would depend on how close you are and how the lines of communication within your family work.

There are a couple of ways you could go about it:

 - Look over our finances and determine how much you can afford to give comfortably and let them do what they need to with it.

  - If you can find out how much the hospital bills are and how they will be paid, you might be able to come up with the most optimal way of paying for them. Perhaps the hospital will give a discount if they can be paid in cash or with a partial cash payment? Will the bills be going on credit card?  Maybe a gift/interest free loan option would work if the bills are too much for them.

 - If other family members are covering the funeral expenses - I would focus on helping with the hospital bills. Especially if those covering it are financially stable. The funeral will probably expand to cover the amount of funds donated. The hospital bills will most likely be much larger and the extra weight of trying to figure out the money might be too much for the parents to deal with right now.

Thank you both for your thoughts. Yes, there is a loss of income of about $1,500 that my BIL mentioned yesterday. Also, in regards to the funeral, my in-laws did not exactly "volunteer" to pay for it. The father's parents decided that the grandparents should split it, and my in-laws couldn't really say no. I do not think they really, exactly have the financial means to cover it, if that makes sense. We are going to ask them more about it tonight. I also know that they are paying 20% of the costs of my niece's care until it reaches the deductible, we are not sure what the deductible is, we asked my in-laws and they do not know either. We didn't ask my BIL and SIL yet because, well, their daughter died yesterday. Our plan is to just write a check and give it to them, we just have no idea on an amount. What have others given specifically?

MillenialMustache

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2015, 01:21:37 PM »
Most high end funeral homes will waive their fees in these cases and charge just for merchandise (and if they have attached cemetery space then for the space). If you go with cremation with family keeping the ashes then you're looking at just a cremation container (can Costco it if you really want to) and an urn (again you can provide your own or simply accept the cardbox box they gave you). If you're willing to provide your own then you could have the entire thing done for $50 with change.

Speak with them about their wishes and get quotes from funeral homes. If you know what they want (clergy/take home ashes/scattering tube/put them on the mantlepiece) then I can provide a very rough estimate for you about what that ought to cost without service charges. Burial will be more of course because you have to buy the land.

Might be worth calling the nearest national cemetery if you need land, he and his wife and entitled to be interred in a plot (one on top of the other, double depth normally) there due to his status in the military, honestly I'm not sure about the premature deaths of children but absolutely ask.

He is not in the air force, he is a pilot for a company like Southwest (not Southwest though). That would have been a good idea if he was though.

dsmexpat

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2015, 01:34:07 PM »
Asked around. We do perinatal for no charge for anything except a vault to protect the coffin and a headstone. We waive the fees for funeral directors, embalming, transfer of deceased (to FH, to church, to cemetery), visitation, graveside service, casket, family limo and provide a free plot in our cemetery (with opening and closing fees for the plot also waived).

We're uniquely generous with this stuff in the area (we're very high end) but I would be surprised if there weren't comparable companies in other areas. I imagine it's viewed as excellent PR and a good investment in the rest of the family at a business level. For perinatal you ought to be able to get the works without spending a cent, although the nominally "cheaper" funeral homes may still charge. Clergy and choir often have an honorarium for their services but it's voluntary and if your family are good, tithing members of the congregation then I can't imagine any expectation that they would pay at a time like this. Total costs should be close to $0 if you know what you're looking for, as with anything else a lack of familiarity with the system will cause you to spend inefficiently.

Absolutely make arrangements for the funeral or work with the grandparents to do so. Medical bills can wait but the funeral can't and the family have each other, and their older child, to look after at this incredibly difficult time. If you think you'll do a more competent job than the grandparents in making arrangements and getting a good price with a funeral home/cemetery then make the arrangements and have them write the check. Worth being aware though that you may be committing the family to a particular cemetery if you don't move around a lot, it's likely the parents would like to be near their baby when their time comes so pick somewhere nice.

Then offer what you can afford towards medical having done the lion's share of the funeral expenses with knowledge and effort alone.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2015, 02:04:58 PM by dsmexpat »

TexasStash

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2015, 01:56:46 PM »
Based on your comments about the family paying 20% medical expenses after deductible, the in-laws paying for share of funeral costs mainly because they were volunteered, the fact that in-laws don't have substantial income to pay funeral costs, and the simple facts that medical bills will be less urgent and probably won't be astronomical (20% co-pay, assuming there is an out of pocket max, and fact that care in NICU was for "only" a few days), I would think the best way to help would be to talk to the in-laws and offer to help cover some of the funeral costs. That will of course depend on their pride and their willingness to accept help, especially from their kids, but if they're open to it, it would make sense to me to bring it up with the in-laws. If you can handle it, which it seems like you can, I would personally offer to contribute around 50% of the in-laws responsibility or $1000 whichever is less... I say that because it allows you to give a significant amount (I've always viewed thousands as significant on any purchase) without it feeling like you took the responsibility for it away from your in laws.

rmendpara

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2015, 02:16:12 PM »
Are you close with the family member(s)?

If not, I'd simply write a check with some amount you're comfortable giving and be don with it. Your generosity, I'm assuming, will be appreciated.

If you are close, once a few days have passed, or maybe once you know they are planning the funeral and other things, just ask them straight up about how much it's going to cost. My family is stubbornly proud, but would not hide something like that from close family. YOu could then give the full amount, or some part that you feel okay with.

Another alternative is to give them a free loan if you think they'll have to go into credit cards or dig very deep to come up with the funds for everything. Depending on how close you are as well as how responsible the family is, you may have to consider this a gift.

Personally, I had no qualms about loaning my sibling over 10k last year, but we're also close and I have no reservations that I won't be repaid. It might have been different if I didn't feel they were responsible enough to repay me.

Either way, sorry your whole family is having to go through this. COnsider your own feelings, your family's feelings, and come up with something that doesn't create more issues than it solves.

Best wishes

MillenialMustache

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2015, 02:20:00 PM »
Ok, maybe I need to be a little more honest with you guys. I knew we would give something, and I was assuming we would give my SIL $250-$500 for the medical expenses. I was not planning to give my in-laws any money for the funeral. I brought it up to my DH without giving the numbers I just gave you, and he said he wanted to give $500 to his SIL and $500 to his parents. He said this was equal to 2 weeks pay for him and that is what he is comfortable giving. I am not sure what I am comfortable giving. I was trying to figure out what others have done.

use2betrix

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2015, 02:36:28 PM »
If you want to give for a situation, the number that popped in my head was $500 as well.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2015, 02:37:13 PM »
Awful.

I believe my daughter's bill for a week of NICU was $15,000, but her life was not in danger so they may have been billing us for a lower intensity of care. We had separate insurance through our jobs at that time and we double-insured her at birth. Somehow we ended up paying extraordinarily little ($800) for the whole birth and NICU experience. They have some time, I believe, to get their heads back on and figure out if that's an option for them (maybe 30 days after birth?).

fodder69

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2015, 02:51:16 PM »
I think your husband's idea is a good one and seems fair.

SomedayStache

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2015, 02:51:49 PM »
For that amount of money (fairly small) just give with no strings attached. Let them use it on whatever they need.  Don't say it's for medical expenses or for the funeral.  If you were giving thousands that might be different.

MillenialMustache

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2015, 02:56:45 PM »
One person is paying for the funeral, another for the medical expenses, which is why there is a difference.

CommonCents

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2015, 03:05:45 PM »
If your parents are not likely to accept the cash and you trust his parents, can you reach out to his parents and offer the sum with the clear understanding it will go to your in-laws portion?  (This way, they may also understand they shouldn't volunteer others for things in the future and his parents may decide to cover it entirely.)

I'd also offer to help with negotiating the bills with the hospital.   You can likely knock the total down, particularly pleading 1) hardship, and 2) offering the rest in cash.

gillstone

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2015, 03:12:52 PM »
I'm sorry for your loss and for theirs.  Speaking from the experience of losing my nephew in a similar manner a year ago, the hospital and funeral homes are usually pretty generous.

When we heard what was happening we made a broad offer of help and quietly put aside around $2000 if needed, but almost all costs besides a small urn went unbilled.

Aside from question of money, I would recommend a gift for the grieving parents from these folks http://www.heldyourwholelife.com/


justajane

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2015, 03:22:17 PM »
I'd also offer to help with negotiating the bills with the hospital.   You can likely knock the total down, particularly pleading 1) hardship, and 2) offering the rest in cash.

This is a great idea. I would do that, in addition to the $500 you are thinking of giving. What about calling around to find a funeral that will do it all for free or close to free? They might be too grief stricken to shop around but would of course appreciate the effort.

I'm not suggesting a crowdfunding thing, but when my SIL died of cancer and left 2 young kids, people gave donations to the family. From what I recall, it was close to 20K. In the case of tragedy, people want to help. No one should have to bury a child, much less a newborn.

Have you asked the hospital? I know around here there are groups who bury babies for free, although come to think of it, it might just be for cremation.

I don't know the specifics of First Candle, but you might want to check out these types of organizations - http://www.firstcandle.org/grieving-families/

So sorry you have to be thinking about this at all.

MillenialMustache

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #20 on: April 16, 2015, 03:48:59 PM »
Update: Funeral is only $3,000, so only $1,500 for my in-laws. They got a lot of price breaks, are not being charged by the church, everything is smaller for a newborn, etc. I think that will be fine for them and we just need to focus on my SIL and BIL.

dsmexpat

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2015, 04:19:48 PM »
Update: Funeral is only $3,000, so only $1,500 for my in-laws. They got a lot of price breaks, are not being charged by the church, everything is smaller for a newborn, etc. I think that will be fine for them and we just need to focus on my SIL and BIL.
$3,000 for perinatal is robbery. Which state are you in?

MillenialMustache

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Re: How much would you give? Niece's Medical Expenses and Funeral
« Reply #22 on: April 16, 2015, 04:26:45 PM »
Update: Funeral is only $3,000, so only $1,500 for my in-laws. They got a lot of price breaks, are not being charged by the church, everything is smaller for a newborn, etc. I think that will be fine for them and we just need to focus on my SIL and BIL.
$3,000 for perinatal is robbery. Which state are you in?

Florida. That includes the casket, plot, and everything. I can't really worry about that cost, since it is more reasonable than I was expecting, my DH and I aren't giving any money for it. Not my circus, not my monkeys. I think they did call around.