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Questions for those who have planned a funeral recently.


Wabi Sabi
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My MIL died this morning. She was an only child, my dh's father who died many years ago was also an only child, and my husband is an only child, therefore it's just us. No other family to help- no aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, no one. 

 

We have to meet with a funeral director tomorrow. Can anyone who has had to plan a funeral recently tell me very roughly how much $$$ we are going to need? MIL has zero savings and massive medical debt due to her declining health over the last few years, and no life insurance, so I am trying not to freak out, but we don't know how on earth we are going to pay for this. I'm also scared the the nursing home where she spent the end of her life is going to come after us for her outstanding balance that is in the $20k range. 

She does already have a gravesite next to her husband and a headstone, so that's a relief, but otherwise she had nothing else pre-planned. She wanted to have a traditional funeral- embalming, a viewing, being buried next to her husband, no cremation. 

Neither she nor my husband or I believe in having to have the best, most expensive Cadillac of coffins. We want as simple as we can get, but there isn't time to get anything special made or ordered, so I suspect we'll be stuck with whatever the funeral home offers. We will not be upsold or guilted into getting her the "best." 

We know we'll have to pay the basic funeral home fees for the embalming and services, plus the hearse to the cemetery along with a casket, vault, and opening/closing the grave. Can anyone who has gone through this recently give me a rough idea of what we might expect? Is this something that can generally be done for $5k or are we looking more like $10k+? And what do funeral homes do if you have no way of paying upfront? Do they offer payments generally speaking or are we going to have to beg my mother for a loan? 

Thanks in advance for any information you can give us. 

 

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Did she have a lot of friends living? A church family? I ask as we did a very quick service with no embalming (has to be done within a certain number of days and no open casket). Visitation a hour before the service saves money over hours at a different time/place/etc.

 

Depending on your weather and # of people you expect the cheapest might be a graveside service with visitation/luncheon afterwards at a church fellowship hall or community center.

 

Funerals run about $7500. We did immediate cremation and no services for Dh's uncle and it was $2500+ for the very bare bones.

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My MIL died this morning. She was an only child, my dh's father who died many years ago was also an only child, and my husband is an only child, therefore it's just us. No other family to help- no aunts, uncles, siblings, cousins, no one. 

 

We have to meet with a funeral director tomorrow. Can anyone who has had to plan a funeral recently tell me very roughly how much $$$ we are going to need? MIL has zero savings and massive medical debt due to her declining health over the last few years, and no life insurance, so I am trying not to freak out, but we don't know how on earth we are going to pay for this. I'm also scared the the nursing home where she spent the end of her life is going to come after us for her outstanding balance that is in the $20k range. 

 

She does already have a gravesite next to her husband and a headstone, so that's a relief, but otherwise she had nothing else pre-planned. She wanted to have a traditional funeral- embalming, a viewing, being buried next to her husband, no cremation. 

 

Neither she nor my husband or I believe in having to have the best, most expensive Cadillac of coffins. We want as simple as we can get, but there isn't time to get anything special made or ordered, so I suspect we'll be stuck with whatever the funeral home offers. We will not be upsold or guilted into getting her the "best." 

 

We know we'll have to pay the basic funeral home fees for the embalming and services, plus the hearse to the cemetery along with a casket, vault, and opening/closing the grave. Can anyone who has gone through this recently give me a rough idea of what we might expect? Is this something that can generally be done for $5k or are we looking more like $10k+? And what do funeral homes do if you have no way of paying upfront? Do they offer payments generally speaking or are we going to have to beg my mother for a loan? 

 

Thanks in advance for any information you can give us. 

 

 

Unfortunately, you are probably looking in the $10+ range if you choose a traditional funeral with viewing, etc. There are very, very basic caskets you can choose plus you may need a grave liner for the cemetery (know that these are NOT required by law, only by cemetery requirements, so *ask*, specifically, if they are a requirement. If you don't need one, that's a huge savings.

 

You can save money if you do not buy thank you notes from the funeral home and if you do not use any of their cars to ride in--just the hearse. You will need to pay for copies of the death certificate, but the funeral home generally does not charge more than the actual cost of that. If you have an organist or soloist, you'll have to pay for that, as well. 

 

You could have the funeral home do a direct burial (my guess is you've already had her embalmed, but you can still save money by doing nothing else except the burial that involves the funeral home). Have her buried directly without a service--you're going to incur those charges no matter what: opening and closing of the grave, finishing the headstone, casket, perhaps a grave liner. Then, use a place of worship, a town hall, a restaurant's private room, your own house, and hold the "visitation" and funeral. Do it all on your own--plan it, get the word out (beware that obituaries can be big money unless you are in a very small town that doesn't charge yet, but those are few and far between) and make do wherever you can.  Ask the funeral home to write up the charges for you both ways (direct burial vs a service they help with) and make your decision based on that. They have to tell you what every charge is for (the biggest one is going to be their service fee).

 

I wish you luck. It's hard to think about money when emotions are running so high....so, those of you reading this, preplan your funerals and make sure there's life insurance to pay for what you want!!

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If you don't do a viewing with the body in a casket you might be able to get away with a pine box or other very simple option.  Other times you can "rent" a casket for the viewing.

 

If I remember right, ask about a traditional Orthodox funeral (even if you are not Orthodox) as this is a bare bones, cheapest legal way to do things many times.

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When we buried my aunt a couple of years ago the funeral home had different package deals for funerals. We picked the cheapest package and then added on a viewing a la carte. All together it cost us about 6k for the coffin, viewing, simple graveside prayer with tent, and hearse to take her to the cemetery. We had to find our own pall-bearers and minister to perform the prayer. Just don't let them talk you into anything extra, like thank-you cards or video slideshows. And Carol in Cal. is right about needing a lot of death certificates.

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Your least expensive option will be either a direct burial with a Costco casket or cremation.....in the $3k range. Costco has overnight delivery.

 

For embalming and a modest funeral as you describe, you are in the $7-10k range.

 

I, personally, would not go into debt to bury someone.  Funerals are for the living.

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Your least expensive option will be either a direct burial with a Costco casket or cremation.....in the $3k range. Costco has overnight delivery.

 

For embalming and a modest funeral as you describe, you are in the $7-10k range.

 

I, personally, would not go into debt to bury someone.  Funerals are for the living.

 

Unfortunately, there's no way around it. We have precisely $0 available to spend on a funeral right now, so even funds for most modest funeral possible is going to have to be borrowed from someone.   :sad:

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Not related to the funeral, but the nursing home cannot come after you for any debts of hers, barring some type of additional agreement you have made with them.

We live in one of the 30 states with filial responsibility laws that mean we could be held liable for her medical debt. I'm sick to my stomach just thinking about it. I just read an article about it last week (which I can't find the link to now) in which a court has recently upheld the law requiring an adult child to pay for his mother's nursing home bill.

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I also would not go into debt to bury her, if you can see your way clear of it (and I understand if you can't).  My dad was cremated for not very much (several hundred, I think), we bought an urn on Etsy, and we held a memorial service at a home that was set up and rented out for such events (it was in a natural setting in a large suburban park) for $200 or so.

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We live in one of the 30 states with filial responsibility laws that mean we could be held liable for her medical debt. I'm sick to my stomach just thinking about it. I just read an article about it last week (which I can't find the link to now) in which a court has recently upheld the law requiring an adult child to pay for his mother's nursing home bill.

There's only one case, and it was in PA. In most states, qualifying for Medicaid, SSI, or other government benefits prevents them from being able to pass the bill on to you. For right now, I really don't think you need to worry about that.

 

As for the burial, please don't feel obligated to do the viewing and embalming if it greatly increases your cost. She doesn't care. She thought she cared, but in this moment, she truly doesn't. Do what you need to do to care of her grandchildren.

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I am so sorry for your loss snd for the strsss tgevattendant ciecumstanxes bring.

 

Call around. I found dramatic differences among funeral homes when I called for my dad's funeral--$15k on down to $2k.

 

Ask for direct burial. Do this right away.

Ask for a gravesitevwuthiut perpetual maintenance. Ask for a cremation casket. (Cheaper).

 

Find a family-owned funeral home.

(((You)))

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I am so sorry for your loss snd for the strsss tgevattendant ciecumstanxes bring.

 

Call around. I found dramatic differences among funeral homes when I called for my dad's funeral--$15k on down to $2k.

 

Ask for direct burial. Do this right away.

Ask for a gravesitevwuthiut perpetual maintenance. Ask for a cremation casket. (Cheaper).

 

Find a family-owned funeral home.

(((You)))

 

You can bury someone in those?  Aren't they made of cardboard?  

 

I had no idea.   How much do they run?

 

I would assume if you do a viewing you would need to borrow a regular casket though?  

 

i guess you would need to price that in comparison with the Costco cheapest Casket for $1200 or so.

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My parents and I buried my sister in January (her death was somewhat anticipated but not at that particular time - she went into hospice on Thursday and died Friday afternoon).  She had no pre-planning.  My mother found a gravesite for her (double actually) through her church members for 2K.  Since she was Bahai, we did a direct burial, but my parents chose a second to cheapest casket, around 3K (if we'd had more time, I would have elected for a pine or willow casket, less than 1K). We had to get the liner at a little over 1K.  My parents did want an obit through the local paper and that was about $400.  Death certificates were $10 each and we bought 10 or 12. There were other costs like the hearse to the cemetery and such.  All in, I think it was a bit over 8K.  We were planning on splitting the cost (her husband had no money to contribute), but then my parents found out that we had been giving them money for expenses every month for a couple of years.  Then they took on all the funeral costs.

 

I'm so sorry you have to go through this and even more sorry you have to worry about the costs of burying her.  I hope you are able to find some peace soon.

 

ETA:  Oh, we did only a graveside service, no memorial service, obviously no viewing.

Edited by YaelAldrich
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For the viewing, when my Dad passed, it was much cheaper for us to have a viewing for about 1-2 hours prior to the funeral on the same day.  It would have been considerably more to have it on a separate day.  I think my Dad's cost around 6-7 K.  Also, we had to get a vault to put the coffin in and I remember that was pricey.

 

So sorry for your loss.  I know how hard it is to deal with worrying about funeral details on top of everything else.   

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If she didn't leave the money for a fancy funeral, I would not feel obligated to do it.  Especially since you have young kids.  My father was cremated and my mother LITERALLY had him put in his favorite cookie jar (his request!).  She did a short visitation at the church before the service so she didn't need to use the funeral parlor space at all.   My mom did spend some money on a luncheon, but that's what she wanted.   You certainly don't need to do a meal.  You could do bars and coffee at the funeral service location after if you wanted to have something simple after a service. 

 

ETA - I think my mom spent like 5500 and the majority in her case was on a very nice luncheon. (ETA again - I think it was about 2500 without the luncheon for everything she did - cremation, arrangements, etc)

 

:grouphug:  I'm very sorry for your loss. 

Edited by WoolySocks
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I would suggest cremation and then a simple memorial service without a meal, just , coffee, tea, and lemonade or direct burial which is less than embalming but comes with the expense of a grave site, crypt, and graveside services for opening and closing the grave.

 

Embalming is about $1000 around here. My mother insisted on showing her husband and having a traditional funeral, meal, and burial. Not including a tombstone, it cost $7500.

 

Do not feel pressured to do that when she left nothing behind to pay for it.

 

The medical facilities can come after her estate for payment, but not you personally unless you signed a statement stating you would be responsible for payment.

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You can bury someone in those? Aren't they made of cardboard?

 

I had no idea. How much do they run?

 

I would assume if you do a viewing you would need to borrow a regular casket though?

 

i guess you would need to price that in comparison with the Costco cheapest Casket for $1200 or so.

You can bury someone in a cardboard box. I've even seen shrouds and shroud boards (for covering and carrying the body, respectively). You need to add handles to a cremation casket, that's all.

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We live in one of the 30 states with filial responsibility laws that mean we could be held liable for her medical debt. I'm sick to my stomach just thinking about it. I just read an article about it last week (which I can't find the link to now) in which a court has recently upheld the law requiring an adult child to pay for his mother's nursing home bill.

 

The only case I am aware of was in Pennsylvania.  By and large, filial responsibility laws are not enforced, and there has to be a series of factors in play that make them enforceable/worthwhile to enforce.  Based on what you have posted, I would not expect you to have any issues.

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First of all, I'm sorry for your loss.

 

I'm not sure where you're located, but we did a very basic funeral for my mom last year; reasonable coffin (not the absolute cheapest because it's pretty horrible for viewing, but the lowest priced one that looked like a coffin), we did a short visitation then service all at once versus having visitation the night before and then again the next day with a service. We had a hearse take her to the gravesite, but we didn't have limos take us. We had the arrangement for the top of the casket, her obituary, and a few other smaller things (fee for priest and stuff like that). $7,000.00.

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I would not feel comfortable cremating someone who specifically asked not to be cremated.  My mother is absolutely against it.

 

There are other things I don't plan to do that my mother requests though, like the request for THREE funerals.   :glare:

 

But in this case, I would feel fine with no embalming, no fancy coffin, and just a memorial service at the church or in a home.

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I'm sorry for your loss.  :grouphug:

 

My mom died nine years ago last month so I'm not familiar with current costs. Many funeral homes will work with the family though, to help find the best option for your budget (which in this case I see is $0 but talk to them anyway). One thing that surprised me was that even though my mother already had a burial plot, I had to pay for them to both open and close the grave! There are a number of hidden costs, so ask them to spell out everything for you.

 

 

Be sure to order a lot of copies of the death certificates.  It's ridiculous how many you need.

 

Yes. You'll need several and in some situations a self-made copy won't do. You need to have the official ones, and you can order as many of those as you need. Unfortunately they're not free so I suggest trying to find out how many you need and then ordering one or two extra. No need to pay for too many, and you could always order more if necessary. You'll likely need one for the bank if she had a bank account, possibly Social Security, credit cards and other loans if she had any, cell phone if she had one. If she was in a nursing home you probably won't be dealing with a car loan or mortgage or too many other places that would need to see it. I'd google a few sites to find out who will need them, then apply it to her situation.

 

 

 

I, personally, would not go into debt to bury someone.  Funerals are for the living.

 

 

If she was on medicaid, etc you can also check with the county to see if they have any burial funds available. It might not be much but can help.

 

 

As for the burial, please don't feel obligated to do the viewing and embalming if it greatly increases your cost. She doesn't care. She thought she cared, but in this moment, she truly doesn't. Do what you need to do to care of her grandchildren.

 

Yes. A service and viewing isn't necessary. Since there's no family other than yours, and few if any friends, you could have a memorial potluck at your home for anyone who does want to pay respects. Other than that, I'd go with the most bare bones options. 

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