Author Topic: Funeral/Burial for Relative  (Read 4968 times)

Catbert

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Funeral/Burial for Relative
« on: March 25, 2016, 12:09:44 PM »
This is a sad and depressing question.  DH's 37 y.o. niece has had cancer for the past two years and was just referred to hospice.  She's expected live less than 2 months - likely much less.  She has two elementary school aged children.  While I've seen this coming (2 years of constant chemo including clinical trials was a tip off) the closer you are to the patient the harder it is to see death coming.  Both her mother and husband were seemingly caught unaware.

Here's my dilemma:  Both the niece and her mother have always spent money completely irresponsibly.   I know they have no money for a funeral, burial or even a simple cremation.  For ourselves, DH and I want to be cremated, ashes scattered, no church service, maybe a small memorial gathering of family at our house.  I'm pretty sure they will want more than than, probably the whole funeral/church service/burial thing. 

Here's my question: Should we volunteer money for the funeral/burial/cremation/?  If so, should it only enough for the simple cremation we would want for ourselves or a larger sum for a more elaborate send off?  (DH and I are retired and could afford to contribute whatever we decide without a problem.) 
 

frompa

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2016, 12:16:02 PM »
I don't see that there's any "should" here.  Do what you want.  But if you will be angered by the family's spending in a profligate way on the burial/funeral (and it sounds like you will be), then if you are going to offer to pay, offer only a specific sum.  I have seen memorial activities that run into the $20 and even $30,000+ figures, when a funeral home is left in charge or even negligently left to steer the direction of activities with the secure promise of a blank check from a well-meaning relative.  You could also decide to give a memorial donation to a cause connected with your H's niece, and leave the family to clean up its own mess.  People find the money for what matters to them. 

EngineerYogi

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2016, 12:19:39 PM »
First, I'm so sorry that your niece is on her way to hospice, that is hard indeed.

I think your offer to help with funeral services is very generous and would be greatly appreciated by the family. My FIL passed away from a long term illness just over a year ago and the worst part was his children(my husband and his two siblings) were left with the bill for the funeral arrangements.

I understand your wishes for a funeral versus their (probable) wishes, I think it would be best to "donate" a flat sum to go towards the cost which could equate to the amount you would consider reasonable for modest arrangements without billing it that way. I don't know your family circumstances or I'd suggest offering to pay for the whole thing but I'd be afraid they may take advantage of that offer and not make some of the more modest decisions(or it could go the other way?).

iris lily

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2016, 12:23:53 PM »
In your situation,  and It could see us being in your situation, I would offer $560. It is the amount I hope DH spends to dispose of me. The crematorium down the road chrages this, including body pick up from the morgue.

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2016, 12:25:11 PM »
Condolences - this is a tough situation.

Others have said what I would say - with the additions: 
1) Verify you have YOUR end-of-life documentation in order - advance directives, DNR, living will, etc.
2) Update your will - I used an older version of Nolo Press's "Willmaker" software to prepare mine.
3) Verify your investment account beneficiaries are up-to-date - this is often more important than having it documented in a will.  Best to do your best to make sure the beneficiary allocations in the accounts, and the will are in agreement.

Sending strength...

little_brown_dog

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2016, 12:34:37 PM »
First determine what it is she actually wants. You may be surprised. No need to worry about what ifs, just see if you can get any information on what her wishes are for her final send off.
Based on that, decide what you are willing to cover. Maybe it's the flower arrangements. Or maybe it's just a cash gift for her family to use as they see fit. If you do go with something that isn't a set amount, it should be qualified with a maximum contribution (ex: "We would love to be able to contribute and were thinking of buying the flowers for the ceremony/burial. We know Suzy loves daisies. We can pay $500 for that.")

Catbert

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2016, 12:42:37 PM »


Others have said what I would say - with the additions: 
1) Verify you have YOUR end-of-life documentation in order - advance directives, DNR, living will, etc.
2) Update your will - I used an older version of Nolo Press's "Willmaker" software to prepare mine.
3) Verify your investment account beneficiaries are up-to-date - this is often more important than having it documented in a will.  Best to do your best to make sure the beneficiary allocations in the accounts, and the will are in agreement.


Good advice.  I double-checked all this 2 years ago when DH was diagnosed with cancer and went through chemo.  He had a much better outcome than his niece.

Cassie

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2016, 12:47:54 PM »
I really hate it when little kids lose a parent-ugh!  So very sorry. I would set an amount you are willing to give and then let them decide how to spend it. Here you can be cremated for 500 and the rest of the $ could be used towards a plaque, etc.  They may want a spot for the kids to visit so maybe a cremation plot too.  If they want a burial plot those are much more expensive. If her hubby ever served in the military they are entitled to free burial or cremation plot with a plaque, etc. WE recently found out that there are veteran cemeteries that do this and you don't have to meet special qualifications like fought in a war, etc.  Once you apply you get an okay within a week or so.  They charge nothing for the veteran but do charge 400 for a spouse.

Catbert

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2016, 12:50:30 PM »
First determine what it is she actually wants. You may be surprised. No need to worry about what ifs, just see if you can get any information on what her wishes are for her final send off.
Based on that, decide what you are willing to cover. Maybe it's the flower arrangements. Or maybe it's just a cash gift for her family to use as they see fit. If you do go with something that isn't a set amount, it should be qualified with a maximum contribution (ex: "We would love to be able to contribute and were thinking of buying the flowers for the ceremony/burial. We know Suzy loves daisies. We can pay $500 for that.")

Thanks everyone for the advice.  I think a flat sum in the $500 to $1000 range is likely what we'll offer.  I think little-brown-dog has a good point - I should wait until I know what they are thinking before offering anything.  The worst thing would be for them to scale up the services because they now have "extra" money. 

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2016, 12:55:38 PM »
Condolences on your niece's situation.

I worked in the "death care" industry and wanted to point out that there's a sizable difference between pre-need and at-need pricing for most providers. This is true even if the pre-need planning is for someone on hospice who is imminently dying. Corporate funeral homes, crematories and cemeteries offer a significant discount if the arrangements are made in advance. Many family-owned providers offer this discount as well. Regardless of whether you and your husband put in any funds, encourage whoever is responsible for your niece's arrangements to make those arrangements before your niece dies. 

There can also be significant price differences among the different funeral homes, crematories, cemeteries, etc. If you're comfortable helping with these arrangements, you could offer to call around and price different options. It is well known in the industry that loved ones close to the deceased often spend extravagantly in at-need situations. A friend or family member who's a little more detached from the situation could help the family make more objective decisions on their loved one's memorial.

Catbert

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2016, 02:04:39 PM »
Condolences on your niece's situation.

I worked in the "death care" industry and wanted to point out that there's a sizable difference between pre-need and at-need pricing for most providers. This is true even if the pre-need planning is for someone on hospice who is imminently dying. Corporate funeral homes, crematories and cemeteries offer a significant discount if the arrangements are made in advance. Many family-owned providers offer this discount as well. Regardless of whether you and your husband put in any funds, encourage whoever is responsible for your niece's arrangements to make those arrangements before your niece dies. 

There can also be significant price differences among the different funeral homes, crematories, cemeteries, etc. If you're comfortable helping with these arrangements, you could offer to call around and price different options. It is well known in the industry that loved ones close to the deceased often spend extravagantly in at-need situations. A friend or family member who's a little more detached from the situation could help the family make more objective decisions on their loved one's memorial.

Thanks for this advice.  If I volunteer to do pre-needs shopping it helps with three issues:  guiding the family toward reasonable price options; determining an appropriate amount to contribute; and helping out by doing something.  I've also been struggling with determining what I can do to "help out".  I chose never to have children so babysitting two freaked out elementary age kids wouldn't be helpful.  The niece is our least favorite relative (for reasons that don't matter now) so sitting by her bedside isn't a great option.  Hell, as an atheist I can't even pray for her.  But dealing with financial issues is a good fit for me and helpful to the family.

As always thanks to this wonderful community for your advice and assistance!

lizzzi

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2016, 02:09:13 PM »
When one of my widowed sisters-in-law died in 1996 and there was really no money for her simple funeral, my husband and other family members each kicked in $1,000 to pay for a very modest but traditional Catholic funeral.

Do find out what kind of funeral they want before you start handing over a lot of money, and also see if other relatives want to participate. I do think this is one of those situations where you put your Mustachianism on the back burner and help out. But help out in a sensible way.

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2016, 03:52:34 PM »
Thanks for this advice.  If I volunteer to do pre-needs shopping it helps with three issues:  guiding the family toward reasonable price options; determining an appropriate amount to contribute; and helping out by doing something.  I've also been struggling with determining what I can do to "help out".  I chose never to have children so babysitting two freaked out elementary age kids wouldn't be helpful.  The niece is our least favorite relative (for reasons that don't matter now) so sitting by her bedside isn't a great option.  Hell, as an atheist I can't even pray for her.  But dealing with financial issues is a good fit for me and helpful to the family.

As always thanks to this wonderful community for your advice and assistance!

I sympathize with all of these points. I'm also a logical, frugal, child-free atheist! Being an atheist interacting with theists in end of life situations is always at least a little awkward. If you don't mind shopping around for memorial options, many families would consider this a huge help. Most people hate to think about death and, thus, want nothing to do with making these arrangements. If you approach it as an inevitable part of life, it's much easier to objectively evaluate needs and options.

Let me know if you have questions about anything funeral, cemetery or cremation related. I managed cemeteries but also have some knowledge of funeral homes and crematories. I'm no longer in the industry, so I don't have a horse in the race. (I actually wouldn't recommend my previous employer to a family.)

Capsu78

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #13 on: March 25, 2016, 05:17:36 PM »
I have not seen it brought up but does the niece have a large family/friend/ work relations group or a small one?   If my wife passed, she has managed large groups of people who would be there to "farewell"...me, not so much, could fit all my friends on barstools at Fridays mid afternoon!

If she is pretty popular, pressure on expenses would go up... If it is only going to be a small turn out, I might consider helping out, possibly even 100% ish, so long as they were happy with what I provided.

« Last Edit: March 25, 2016, 05:19:24 PM by Capsu78 »

Catbert

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2016, 10:39:20 AM »
Thank you everyone for the advice. 

As it turned out she passed away in  the hospital last night ~36 hours after hospice was first mentioned to her.  I never got a chance to do any pre-needs shopping; however during that time she and her close family decided on a simple cremation and separate memorial service.  She was very popular with her co-workers and customers who have already collected more than enough money to pay for a simple cremation.  A large, but casual, memorial service is being worked on to be held at a local beach or park.

 

MrsPete

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2016, 04:29:21 PM »
Very sad story, and I'm sorry for your family -- especially the children.

Since they seem to have the funeral under control, I suggest you make an effort on a regular basis to do something special with the children.  It's not easy to be the child of a single parent.  Take them to the zoo or the science museum, or the pottery painting place, or whatever interests them, but something you could do together.  Having lost their mother so young, they have a greater need to stay connected to extended family.

HairyUpperLip

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2016, 08:09:20 PM »
sorry for your loss

Thinkum

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2016, 09:25:48 PM »
Sorry for your loss. I can identify with a lot of what your posted, in too many ways. Take care.

EngineerYogi

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Re: Funeral/Burial for Relative
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2016, 08:31:17 AM »
Thank you everyone for the advice. 

As it turned out she passed away in  the hospital last night ~36 hours after hospice was first mentioned to her.  I never got a chance to do any pre-needs shopping; however during that time she and her close family decided on a simple cremation and separate memorial service.  She was very popular with her co-workers and customers who have already collected more than enough money to pay for a simple cremation.  A large, but casual, memorial service is being worked on to be held at a local beach or park.

I'm very sorry for your loss.