Author Topic: Funeral on the cheap - In another state  (Read 3071 times)

brian313313

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Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« on: November 05, 2017, 05:23:58 AM »
My wife's aunt is in hospice and probably won't survive another month. She's 84 now. When she was young, her parents bought her a whole life policy and a burial plot next to theirs in Virginia. We moved her and my mother-in-law to Georgia so we could help care for them when they got older. Last year, the aunt sold her $7,000 life insurance policy for $1,300 to give the money to a dead-beat cousin (nephew to her) that doesn't want to work. He hasn't had a job in 2 years and lives with MIL. (Lots more there but it's off point.) It seems that we're expected to pay to get her buried in VA now. In general, I would refuse and just let the county cremate her. We have no legal obligation in this. That's what I'd do for myself...I don't want any extra expense left on my estate. However, we have a brother-in-law that caved and now my wife agreed that we'll split the bill.

We are looking for advice on the cheapest way to get her in the ground in Virginia. My wife thinks that she can transport the body across state lines as long as it's been embalmed. She got this off the internet but is going to do more research this week. No funeral, no memorial service. We just don't want to get taken for things we don't need. It's my first time dealing with this and I've heard a lot of horror stories. Hopefully this isn't as bad as I'm expecting.

chasesfish

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2017, 05:52:55 AM »
Can you pay for cremation in Georgia and just transport the ern, or is there already a family "plot" and you have to bury.

I'm really sorry about the burial policy being essentially taken by a deadbeat.

Personally I've just oversaved for FIRE and accepted this crap will happen in my family...I'll just be glad I have the means to quietly take care of it and not let people know who paid.

brian313313

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2017, 06:12:57 AM »
Can you pay for cremation in Georgia and just transport the ern, or is there already a family "plot" and you have to bury.

I'm really sorry about the burial policy being essentially taken by a deadbeat.

Personally I've just oversaved for FIRE and accepted this crap will happen in my family...I'll just be glad I have the means to quietly take care of it and not let people know who paid.

Cremation is my vote, but my wife's family version of Christianity is superstitious about cremation. It's not everyone in the family but her immediate family. She has another aunt on the other side that was cremated. However, brother-in-law is so that's why he accepted this. He's not happy about it either. We're the "poor" but self-sufficient relatives. His family makes more than us but they spend like crazy. We don't make much of the fact that we're better off than we appear. It would not be right for us to let them cover the whole bill though because like you said, we're fortunate to have the money.

chasesfish

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2017, 07:48:49 AM »
I wish I had better advice, you always hate someone spending your money on your behalf.

You only get one family, suck it up, help find the most frugal option, and go and celebrate their life.   You have time on your side and are making good choices, you'll be able to make the money up. 

Mrs.MLM

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2017, 08:52:45 AM »
In my experience, family-owned funeral homes provide better service and are more affordable. Avoid national chains if possible.

MrsPete

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2017, 04:11:35 PM »
To whom did you "cave"?  That is, who's the person who really cares about the funeral?  I wouldn't be above pointing out the differences in cost to this person /asking him or her to help with the cost ... but maybe that person is the brother-in-law who's already ponying up some money.   
She has no children? 

Will she leave an estate with any assets that could be used towards the burial? 
She should receive a small amount from Social Security.

You say your wife read about transporting her body after its embalmed.  You mean you yourself will drive the body to Virginia?  In the coffin?  Do you own a vehicle big enough?  I think you can put her on the train; it'd be worth investigating. 
Transportation is going to be a pain.  Could you potentially buy another plot in Georgia and sell the Virginia plot to "make back" the money?  If you could bury her in Georgia, you could go with direct burial /skip the embalming (embalming is expensive and downright icky ... but probably necessary if you're transporting the body). 

You will have to pay for death certificates, and they're outrageous considering they're just a piece of paper. 
Go with an inexpensive coffin and vault.  Most cemeteries require vaults. 
Bury her in an outfit she already owns.
Would one of the ladies in the family do her hair and make-up instead of paying a professional? 
Go ahead and gather some photographs of her throughout the years; funeral homes are posting them online these days. 
You may end up needing a hearse, but you can skip the limo for the family. 
Expect to pay for the "opening and closing" of the grave. 
Hold a graveside ceremony only ... if the family feels a visitation is necessary, hold it at someone's house (blame it on the distance /transportation thing) instead of at the funeral home.  Friends will give food, so this shouldn't be a big expense.
What about a headstone? 

I suggest speaking to a funeral home now -- before the event occurs and everyone's more emotional.   

In closing, I'm sorry you're in this situation, but -- as someone said above -- you do for family.


Lulee

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2017, 04:13:49 PM »
Can you use the family dynamics and beliefs to help you out?  If there's someone in the religious side of things that's a bit older so they have some clout in the family and a bit bossier who gets things done their way, can you contact them, explain about the policy being sold off at a discount to help out the nephew which means there isn't money to bury the aunt with unless you and BIL go the cremation route which you know would discomfort some of the family, and ask their opinion as an elder in the family on how the family might like it handled so everyone's happy?  If they're the talkative as well as take charge type, they'll wrangle up the money from the non-cremation accepting side of the family to cover most if not all the costs of a traditional funeral.  And if they're local to the family burying ground, they may know a reputable local family fun funeral home which will do the whole thing reasonably.

brian313313

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2017, 05:53:54 PM »
The aunt has no children. The only thing of value she has is a 2002 work van with a handicap lift. KBB says about 4500 private party average but it's not on the good side of that. With 80 year olds driving it there have been several parking lot dings that have not been repaired. As far as an elder is concerned, it's probably me and/or brother-in-law from a respect standpoint. The family is small so the only one left after the aunt passes is my mother-in-law. She's not so good herself and is the one who wants the funeral. She was also complicit in selling the life insurance policy.

They're not really open to another gravesite. We are looking at transport ourselves and the work van will hopefully be large enough for the casket. We're going to take measurements in the next day or so but if not, a uhaul rental will have to be looked into. We probably won't tell them what it's for :). Fortunately, we are not doing any viewing or ceremonies.

Hopefully, all we need is:
embalm
casket - Amazon has for 750. We'll see what the funeral home charges tomorrow.
clothing. My wife wants a new dress for her because all her clothes are pretty ratty at this point. We don't think a dress will be too much though.
open & close grave. Hopefully no vault is required.
The headstone has already been purchased and just needs the death date engraved.

There's probably more and we really hope we don't need to pay for transport. That would probably be what breaks the bank since it's about 700 miles away.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2017, 05:58:23 PM by brian313313 »

MrsPete

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2017, 06:43:31 PM »
- I'd guess the 4K or so from the van would pay a good bit of the funeral costs.  With that plus the small Social Security payment, I bet you've got half of it covered.   
- I get that it'd be hard not to follow MIL's wishes under these circumstances. 
- Given that a headstone is already at the previously chosen gravesite, yeah, even financially, switching plans isn't possible.
- I did some reading about transporting bodies, and I read that you need a permit to transport a body; I could not find any information about how to obtain this permit.  I wonder what's the penalty for failing to obtain a permit?  Of course, you probably can't just back up to the funeral home and ask for help moving the casket into your work van. 
- A U-haul, really?
- I don't think you'll be able to skip the vault ... but you can get a solid answer right now.  You know the name of the gravesite in which she will be buried.  Call and ask them.  While you're at it, ask them the cost of opening and closing the grave.

A new thought:
- The hospital (or other facility) that's caring for her now almost certainly has a Social Worker on staff -- my RN daughter frequently talks about them helping elderly people who are ready to be discharged but have nowhere to go.  You should ask for an appointment with that person; perhaps monies are available for just this type of thing. 

LaineyAZ

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2017, 06:51:27 PM »
Ditto on talking to a medical social worker, I'm sure they see these circumstances often.

However, I believe Social Security makes a one-time death payment of about $250 to a spouse only - no other family members can receive that.

MrsPete

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2017, 07:12:19 PM »
However, I believe Social Security makes a one-time death payment of about $250 to a spouse only - no other family members can receive that.
Wow, I looked it up, and you're right!  I thought everyone received this small check as a help towards burial, but it looks like only the first spouse to die receives it.  (Well, under certain circumstances, a child can receive the check.)

Cranky

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #11 on: November 06, 2017, 07:31:44 PM »
Iíd be willing to pay quite a bit to avoid driving my dead mother-in-law across country, but maybe thatís just me...

brian313313

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2017, 06:45:28 AM »
We're getting some prices and the funeral expenses won't be as bad as expected. Around $5-6k and we have a van that should go for at least $3k. Hopefully closer to $4k. This crisis may only cost us $1000 each but we're concerned that if we bail them out of this then we'll be on the hook for the next one. We're going to try and get mother-in-law to agree to assigning power of attorney over finances and let someone else manage her money. This will give her an out to giving the deadbeat cousin more money since it's easily over $20k by now. My brother in law is already helping but she keeps taking cash withdrawls at atm & nobody knows what it's for.

MMM hall of shame worthy - She clears $4500/month after tax from social security and two pensions. Rent is $1100/mo. Valid medical expenses in the $500/month range.  An old car that she can't drive anymore. Liability is $333/month because she's such a risk on the road. We don't know why the dr. hasn't reported her to the DMV and we may need to get them to do that. She hasn't driven in 6 months but wants to keep her independence. She wanted to declare bankruptcy because of her credit card debt. She did not qualify because the lawyer said the court won't accept her giving so much money to a non-dependent (the deadbeat cousin). I found out last night that it's $5000 in credit card debt. WTF!!!??? I assumed it was $50k or something like that. Someone needs to manage her money. She's probably giving the cousin more money than she thinks. We know it's at least $1000/month. Plus room & board & restaurants. Always minimum payment on the CC and runs it right back up during the month and this has been going for about 15 years. She's also been paying on the dying aunt's credit card with a $5k balance for about the same time. She hoped to take the aunt's debt into her bankruptcy which is of course ridiculous since the debt is not in her name. The thing is also that these two credit cards were not even theirs originally. The got them from their mother when she died about 15 years ago and they were already at their max. She could have just let them go but they felt they needed credit.

Fortunately for me, I found this website and introduced my wife to it. The idea of early retirement was enough to motivate her to read through all the MMM financial posts. She was more like her mother before MMM lessons. Since then she started saving to her 401k also. The first 5 years we were married she wouldn't save and spent too much. I've been frugal my whole life. Since then she started maxing out 401k, and it was in the 2008 lows, we're pretty well off now. My wife is now frugal also and watches money carefully. I let her retire when she lost her job since I was making 80% of the income anyways. Her job is to keep our expenses down.


mre

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #13 on: November 07, 2017, 07:51:20 AM »
A family friend's wife passed away from cancer, and they handled all of her affairs within the family, or very close friends.  This included serving as the funeral director, transporting the body, etc. 

He wrote a short book on the experience, complete with the details on permits required and has a cost breakdown at the end.  Many of the technical details are kind of interspersed with the story, but if you have a little time it is worth reading.

It can be downloaded here: http://www.jackmanningllc.com/no_grey_suits

simonsez

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #14 on: November 07, 2017, 07:52:39 AM »
Wow Brian, good on you.  It sounds like you and your wife are showcasing the right attitude about this stuff.  Life isn't fair but it sounds like with the recent household financial lessons that you and your wife will come out way ahead in the years to come even if you have to donate a little over a grand with this ordeal.

Yeah, cut that cousin off yesterday.  Then your MIL will see that cc debt evaporate quite naturally (provided someone can have her not make the minimum payments).

brian313313

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #15 on: November 07, 2017, 10:59:18 AM »
Wow Brian, good on you.  It sounds like you and your wife are showcasing the right attitude about this stuff.  Life isn't fair but it sounds like with the recent household financial lessons that you and your wife will come out way ahead in the years to come even if you have to donate a little over a grand with this ordeal.

Yeah, cut that cousin off yesterday.  Then your MIL will see that cc debt evaporate quite naturally (provided someone can have her not make the minimum payments).

Cutting him off is the right thing to do in many ways. Even from a loving perspective, he's not living a full life in a bedroom at an aunt's home. Not many girlfriend opportunities for a 52 year old in that situation. The problem will be to get MIL to see it. We're thinking about giving him two months notice for her to agree. We don't have any problem with him living there for free because he does help out. He takes her grocery shopping, dr appointments, etc. My wife can do that so he's not needed but it's a fine arrangement as long as it stays in what she can afford. He needs to get a job and cover his extras which include a $500 car payment and $500 for storage.


simonsez

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #16 on: November 07, 2017, 12:12:16 PM »
He needs to get a job and cover his extras which include a $500 car payment and $500 for storage.
Holy guacamole, he should become an Uber Black driver or something.  Sounds like he has a very luxurious vehicle.  If not, he should downgrade.

What's he storing - Faberge eggs?  Lennon's Rolls Royce?  Some of Renoir's best work?  Or is it junk he should liquidate immediately since he doesn't need it in his day to day life?  Man, a clown car can be pretty expensive but even some of the most absurd luxurious storage spaces I've seen for rent pale in comparison to $500/mo.

MrsPete

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #17 on: November 08, 2017, 05:40:10 AM »

brian313313

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #18 on: November 08, 2017, 02:43:26 PM »
He needs to get a job and cover his extras which include a $500 car payment and $500 for storage.
Holy guacamole, he should become an Uber Black driver or something.  Sounds like he has a very luxurious vehicle.  If not, he should downgrade.

What's he storing - Faberge eggs?  Lennon's Rolls Royce?  Some of Renoir's best work?  Or is it junk he should liquidate immediately since he doesn't need it in his day to day life?  Man, a clown car can be pretty expensive but even some of the most absurd luxurious storage spaces I've seen for rent pale in comparison to $500/mo.

He has a Dodge Caravan. Poor credit and probably nothing down.

Who knows what all that is. I know one of his prize possessions is an old projector from a theatre. It's probably old stuff like that.


Bicycle_B

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #19 on: November 08, 2017, 05:10:33 PM »
Re handling the body, I suggest bringing lots of official copies of the death certificate.  In case you are stopped anywhere, you want to be able to hand out official documents attesting to the identity of the deceased and the peaceful legit nature of the death. 

Official copies are not the same as photocopies, at least in my state.  They must be obtained from a specific authority that stamps a seal on them.  Find out the procedure in the state where she died and follow it.  Even ordinary events of funerals and administrating estates require multiple authenticated death certificates.  Usually it's cheaper as well as easier to get 8 or so up front rather than buying them piecemeal later.

Condolences to you and your family.

brian313313

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Re: Funeral on the cheap - In another state
« Reply #20 on: November 08, 2017, 05:53:35 PM »
Re handling the body, I suggest bringing lots of official copies of the death certificate.  In case you are stopped anywhere, you want to be able to hand out official documents attesting to the identity of the deceased and the peaceful legit nature of the death. 

Official copies are not the same as photocopies, at least in my state.  They must be obtained from a specific authority that stamps a seal on them.  Find out the procedure in the state where she died and follow it.  Even ordinary events of funerals and administrating estates require multiple authenticated death certificates.  Usually it's cheaper as well as easier to get 8 or so up front rather than buying them piecemeal later.

Condolences to you and your family.

They won't release the body without all the paperwork. Fortunately, my wife found a funeral home director that has a friend in the receiving location and they're working together to get all the paperwork straight. Definitely some comedy-worthy events could happen if pulled over or in an accident on the way. We're finding out it's not that uncommon though. The funeral directors were not phased so my wife asked. Pretty common when they want to cross state lines because of the expense. There is more work because you have to arrange both sides instead of paying someone about 5k to do it for you. We're still paying about 2k but much worth the savings. Overall budget has turned out to be just a little over 5k this way.