Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Life...in general => Topic started by: Bottlecaps on March 20, 2013, 03:38:06 PM

Title: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Bottlecaps on March 20, 2013, 03:38:06 PM
I've seen this crop up more than once over my lifetime, and I just recently started wondering what the general consensus on the etiquette of it is. Here recently, a friend of mine from high school's grandmother passed away. It was rather quick and unexpected (diagnosed with cancer in December, died in February), and soon after the services, I began seeing my friend post on Facebook asking for donations to help her family cover the funeral expenses. I must say I don't really have an opinion for nor against it, as I can see both sides of the situation. It's generally considered crass and/or tacky to solicit money, but I got to thinking that a funeral may be a bit of a different story. After all, funerals are quite expensive and it doesn't help matters when the family doesn't necessarily have the means to cover it (especially when it's something unexpected). What are your opinions? Like I said, I don't really have one either way, but it's just something I was wondering about.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: MorgnsGrl on March 20, 2013, 03:40:40 PM
I think that while it's less than ideal, it's understandable. As long as the requests are polite and limited, I'm okay with it.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: QueenfaninCA on March 20, 2013, 03:44:10 PM
I think it is tacky, unless a family loses several family members suddenly and unexpectedly at once. Families should have plans and savings in place for the eventual funeral of grandparents or scale down the funeral to what they can afford. Also life insurances exist.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: daen on March 20, 2013, 03:52:06 PM
In my neck of the woods, there's usually an announcement of the funeral/memorial service date and time. Most times, the last line indicates where donations can be made "in lieu of flowers."  Occasionally, I hear announcements that the donations will be directed to a fund set up to defray funeral expenses.

Sadly, the usefulness of life insurance is not widely understood in certain quarters where I live.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: RubyCat on March 20, 2013, 03:52:45 PM
Where I came from, a family would never personally solicit donations but a friend or group of friends might choose to do so. It could be a simple as a collection jar on the counter at the corner store or maybe even holding a fundraiser (aka a "time" as they were called). Usually, donations were sought if somebody had had a lengthy illness and the money would help pay expenses or left a young family or lost all of their belongings in a house fire. I suppose Facebook changes things, but I've never seen somebody fund raise for themselves.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: CookieChica on March 20, 2013, 05:32:57 PM
I think it is tacky, unless a family loses several family members suddenly and unexpectedly at once. Families should have plans and savings in place for the eventual funeral of grandparents or scale down the funeral to what they can afford. Also life insurances exist.

Yeah but I certainly don't have a life insurance policy out on my parents or grandparents. I trust they have their own insurance like my husband and I do.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: QueenfaninCA on March 20, 2013, 05:51:21 PM
I think it is tacky, unless a family loses several family members suddenly and unexpectedly at once. Families should have plans and savings in place for the eventual funeral of grandparents or scale down the funeral to what they can afford. Also life insurances exist.

Yeah but I certainly don't have a life insurance policy out on my parents or grandparents. I trust they have their own insurance like my husband and I do.

Why trust them when you can ask them? I know, it's not the most fun subject to discuss, but unless you wouldn't have trouble at all paying for their funeral I think it wouldn't hurt to discuss this with them.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: cheyne on March 20, 2013, 05:57:02 PM
If the deceased is a child or young adult without life insurance I have no problem with friends or (non-immediate) relatives asking for donations.

Several years ago we had a 19 y.o. man at Company who died suddenly from a brain aneurysm.  He had no life insurance, his parents had substance abuse issues and no money, so his older Brother (with a wife and 3 kids) was stuck paying for the funeral.  The Brother (who also worked at Company) had to take out a $10K loan before the funeral parlor would even speak with him since there was no life insurance.  Company took up a collection for funeral expenses.  We were able to collect over $4000. for the funeral (which went a long way toward paying the loan).

I do want to add that Brother never asked one person for a dime, he was willing to take on this debt for his younger brother to have a "proper funeral".  Company and employees gathered the money on their own.


Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: CaffeineKatie on March 20, 2013, 06:02:36 PM
I agree funerals are sometimes unexpected, but like a wedding, you can tailor the event to fit your purse, so to speak.  We recently had a local youth die unexpectedly of undiagnosed heart problems.  The mother is very poor, and left with her teenager's children to support. HOWEVER, she planned a funeral worthy of King Tut, and expected companies to donate services and/or the general public to donate for this, since he had had a "troubled life".  She had done the same thing for her mother several years ago, and still owed money for that extravaganza.  When the local funeral home refused to go along with her plans, the local paper wrote a very negative article about the funeral home's lack of charity!  No money=basic funeral.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Sharnita on March 20, 2013, 06:16:49 PM
Even a "basic" funeral ca be expensive, especially when there can also be paperwork, medical costs, etc. connected to the death.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: BarensMom on March 20, 2013, 06:17:54 PM
It was common in my mother's family and friends (from Tennessee) to "pass the hat" before funerals.  The last time I remember hearing about it, though, was around the time of my grandfather's funeral in 1964.

There's nothing wrong in asking for donations in certain cases (such as extreme poverty), as long as "no" is accepted without question or reproach.  Planning a fancy send-off based upon the expectation that someone else is going to foot the bill - nope.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: nuit93 on March 20, 2013, 06:19:58 PM
Even a "basic" funeral ca be expensive, especially when there can also be paperwork, medical costs, etc. connected to the death.

This ^^

Even a super-basic, cardboard box cremation can get up to $1k in cost depending on where you are.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Sharnita on March 20, 2013, 06:22:41 PM
And when I was bored I priced a Costco casket - $800 .  That was before taxes, without delivery, no plot, no vault ...

(Obviously no stone, no cemetary upkeep, no funeral service)


Even the cost of death certificates can add up.

Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: RubyCat on March 20, 2013, 06:41:10 PM
We buried FIL this past weekend. It cost $3,000 to have the grave opened. I know it would have cost less if he'd been buried on a weekday but not sure how much less.  My in laws had funds set aside for final expenses but I can imagine a family being caught off guard by the various expenses.

Somebody once told me that people sometimes include money in sympathy cards, knowing that expenses can accumulate quickly and life insurance, if there is any, can take a while to come through. Has anyone else ever heard of this?
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: hobish on March 20, 2013, 06:46:34 PM
Where I came from, a family would never personally solicit donations but a friend or group of friends might choose to do so. It could be a simple as a collection jar on the counter at the corner store or maybe even holding a fundraiser (aka a "time" as they were called). Usually, donations were sought if somebody had had a lengthy illness and the money would help pay expenses or left a young family or lost all of their belongings in a house fire. I suppose Facebook changes things, but I've never seen somebody fund raise for themselves.

That is what i am used to seeing, as well. Recently my department collected something in the range of $400 for a well-loved coworker who had a family member die unexpectedly. It was extremely sad (baby died after an illness and emergency surgery they thought would save him). It was all done through a few short quick emails: this is what happened, this is what we're doing, this is who to see if you want to contribute. My eyes are leaky just thinking about it.
Way back when my house burned down people did that for me, too. I had Nothing. I mean, the clothes on my back (sans shoes) and whatever was in my Hundai at the time, and that was the extent of my worldly posessions. People came to me with not just cash, but clothes, and even a few stuffed animals. People i didn't even knew cared did some really touching things. I don't know about the etiquette of it, except i am sure no one was pressured; and some 20 years later i still have a little more faith in humanity because of it.

...sorry that got all long and stuff. I tried to edit it down. I get sensitive  :-[ can't even type w/o crying.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Sharnita on March 20, 2013, 06:54:51 PM
Hobish, I had a student whose house burned down.  She and her family were able to stay with relatives but I went out and got her a toothbrush, pillow, change of clothes, towel and washcloth of her own immediately.  They just seemed likethe things I'd want if I was displaced and needed something of my own.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: snowdragon on March 20, 2013, 07:22:35 PM
     We've had these in my neck of the woods. The last that I remember was a little girl here from Europe ( Poland, maybe?) who tried to dangle her feet in the Niagara River.  I am not even sure if there was an actual body to bury...but they had a ceremony, breakfast and there is a memorial somewhere for here.
      I am sure it's hard not to be able to financially to bury someone, but I still think it should not be the family asking ---they have other things to be doing, I am sure. BUT it needs to be done, and the money has to come from somewhere - I am not sure if there is even a government program for help in such things.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: peaches on March 20, 2013, 07:28:34 PM
Funerals can be expensive. They also can be inexpensive, depending on the choices that are made.

Usually within the family it's understood what the finances are (at least in a broad way) and family members will often volunteer to help with funeral expenses.This has happened in my extended family.

I have known of families who couldn't afford a funeral and were helped by their church.

There are occasionally tragic circumstances where people in the community set up a fund that people can donate to, if they wish.

I do think it's crossing the line into impropriety for a family member to solicit funds from friends and neighbors for a family funeral. This is first of all a family responsibility IMO.

There's a difference between letting people do things for you and soliciting funds from friends and acquaintances. The first is fine, the second - not so much.

Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Sharnita on March 20, 2013, 07:34:53 PM
The problem is some people don't have extended family, others have already tapped out their families for medical expenses or financial difficulties cna be family wide. 
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: peaches on March 20, 2013, 07:47:57 PM
The problem is some people don't have extended family, others have already tapped out their families for medical expenses or financial difficulties cna be family wide.

That could very well be the case. Would that make it fine for family to solicit funds from friends and acquantances? I don't think so.

Work out a payment plan, donate the body to a medical school, choose cremation (which is inexpensive), call the county health department and see what options they offer (some will cover the cost of cremation or direct burial), ask your pastor or church for advice.

I would not put out a call for financial help on Facebook.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Bottlecaps on March 20, 2013, 07:56:13 PM
Even a "basic" funeral ca be expensive, especially when there can also be paperwork, medical costs, etc. connected to the death.

This ^^

Even a super-basic, cardboard box cremation can get up to $1k in cost depending on where you are.

Oh yeah, definitely. I think the following story is why I can see both sides of the argument. When my grandmother died (and it was pretty unexpected to us - I have a feeling she knew it was coming, as she had heart problems for years, but was not one to let on just how serious things were at times because she didn't want people to worry and fuss over her, a very strong and independent woman indeed), her funeral was nothing extravagant. It still added up to the tune of almost $7,000, and her life insurance had not matured yet, so it didn't even come close to covering the costs. However, we didn't ask for donations or anything - luckily, my grandparents were long-time friends of the family that ran the funeral home, and they understood that we, the family, would pay what we could, when we could, and they were OK with that. Fast forward six years later, when my grandfather died, her funeral still wasn't completely paid off. Fortunately isn't really the word I'm wanting to use, but it's really the only one that fits, so anyway, fortunately, my grandfather's life insurance had matured by that time, and it was enough to cover his funeral and the remaining bill on my grandmother's. Here's the kicker - my Pappaw's funeral was exactly the same as Grandma's, even down to the casket, and it was over $10,000 - it had gone  up roughly $3,000. Funerals, even the simplest ones, can be scary expensive. I always said that if I could handle being around death and grief all the time, I would run a funeral home. No matter what happens in this world, it's one of the most lucrative businesses to be in. After all, the only two things that are certain in life are death and taxes.

Not everyone has the luxury of being friends with the funeral home directors, though, and it's sad to say, but some are less understanding than others. I also feel it's worth noting that from what I read/saw on Facebook, it was apparent that my high school friend's family had a pretty low-key service.

Anyway, on another point that this thread has gotten me to thinking about, I know that some churches take up collections for its members when something like this happens, and up home at least, it's not uncommon to see the collection jars that several of you have mentioned. I've even seen them down here at the local gas station a couple of times, so I guess it's not all that different.

As for planning within your means, I remember here a couple of years ago, a little girl (only four, if I remember correctly) died in a house fire up home. It really shook up a lot of people (small town, everyone knows everyone, and even if you didn't know them, how can you not be shaken by such an unexpected loss of such a small child?). There were collection jars all over town. The jars pulled in a good bit of money for the family, and there were flyers with information on how to donate to a fund for the family also, to help with the funeral. I personally don't see a problem with that in and of itself - it was very unexpected. The following is where, after thinking about it today, I questioned the etiquette of the way they went about doing her funeral. While I suppose maybe it was excusable because it was their baby, after all, the family wasn't exactly well-off and although I did not attend the services, many people told me that it was a rather extravagant affair with many totally optional (and rather expensive, given the price list I saw when looking over the paperwork of my Pappaw's funeral - the little girl's funeral was held in the same funeral home) extras that were not in any way required. Given that my grandparents' simple funerals were $7,000 and $10,000 respectively, I can only imagine how much a funeral like the one they had for the little girl cost. That struck me as a bit odd, but I didn't really think about it until now, that it's quite possible that while I sympathize with them for losing their child, as I cannot even imagine the pain that must bring and I hope to never go through it myself, it may not have been right of them to plan such a fancy funeral knowing that it was not within their budget and they were going to have to solicit donations to pay for the funeral. The point of that is, I can definitely see the point a lot of you are making to stay within your budget, or if the budget is almost nothing as it is with many of these donation cases, don't go over-the-top with it. (If any of that sounds insensitive given that my example was the death of a child, I give anyone permission to please politely put me in my place.)

I'm so sorry for the long, long, long ramble - just relating to both sides of the argument. Someone tell me to shut up now! :-P
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Sharnita on March 20, 2013, 08:02:30 PM
peaches, I think you are underestimating how much death can cost,even with basic cremation or overestimating how much people who are hurting for money have available.  And while deciding to donate your body when you die is certainly a viable option I don't think it is reasonable to tell somebody that if they can't afford to bury their twelve year old they should donate their body rather than ask for help on facebook.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: snowdragon on March 20, 2013, 08:05:30 PM
The problem is some people don't have extended family, others have already tapped out their families for medical expenses or financial difficulties cna be family wide.

That could very well be the case. Would that make it fine for family to solicit funds from friends and acquantances? I don't think so.

Work out a payment plan, donate the body to a medical school, choose cremation (which is inexpensive), call the county health department and see what options they offer (some will cover the cost of cremation or direct burial), ask your pastor or church for advice.

I would not put out a call for financial help on Facebook.


  Nor would most people I know.  what usually happens here is a close friend, or extended family member sets up the fundraiser and sets up a bank account and they sell tickets to the fundraiser. Advertisement takes place via posters,  announcements on the news and community calendars. 
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: kareng57 on March 20, 2013, 08:09:50 PM
peaches, I think you are underestimating how much death can cost,even with basic cremation or overestimating how much people who are hurting for money have available.  And while deciding to donate your body when you die is certainly a viable option I don't think it is reasonable to tell somebody that if they can't afford to bury their twelve year old they should donate their body rather than ask for help on facebook.


I agree.  And in some religions, cremation simply is not an option (I don't want religion to derail this thread though, lest it get locked).

Even the paperwork is not free - each copy of a death certificate costs more $$$.  And usually several copies are needed; many officials (such as life insurance) will not accept even a certified photocopy.

While I never would have asked for help, I can understand the need for it, in some cases.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Outdoor Girl on March 20, 2013, 08:10:45 PM
I don't think the family should ever solicit for themselves.  Close friends who know that the family is going to struggle to pay for a funeral doing the soliciting?  I have less of an issue.  I can choose to donate, or not.  I am more likely to donate when the death is sudden and leaves behind young survivors, especially children.  I'm also more likely to donate if I know the person a little.  I've never donated for a complete stranger.

My Mom died almost 10 years ago, now.  We were able to cremate her, have three visitations (she was very well known in town - there were a lot of people!), the service and a reception with finger food afterwards for less than $3000.  But I think that is much easier in a small town.  Two of the groups providing the food were organizations my Mom volunteered with.  We gave them a donation; there was no direct charge.  There was no charge for the service from the ministers involved; again, we gave the church a donation.  A friend made the wooden box to put the ashes in.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Sharnita on March 20, 2013, 08:14:14 PM
ah, the death dertificates. When we tried to cancel a relative's cell the company wanted a death certificate. Not a copy - the certificate.  And insurance.  And selling the house. And ...
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Midnight Kitty on March 20, 2013, 08:20:29 PM
I can see both sides of this, so it's hard to take a stand.  My FIL passed a couple years ago.  He did his family the kindness of pre-planning and pre-paying his funeral.  All the decisions were made by him when he buried his second wife (my DH's beloved "evil stepmother" who was an angel in life), including buying a plot adjacent to hers.

I haven't had to deal with a family member's death since I became an adult, so I was clueless about funeral etiquette.  I didn't realize that many people give the bereaved family monetary donations (cash or check).  We were surprised how much money was donated.  No member of the family said anything about needing money to bury him, at least none that I am aware of.  We used the money to pay for a lunch after the service and split the remainder equally between the 3 brothers.

If money is needed to pay for the funeral, I think it would be better for the immediate family to enlist a cousin/aunt/uncle (a relative once removed, but still close) to get the word out that the family is strapped for cash and needs donations to pay for the funeral.  Of course, any family that lets it be known that money is an issue to the extent they are soliciting donations should be keeping expenses down to the best of their ability.  I would be perturbed if I gave the surviving spouse $200 to help pay for the funeral and found that they ordered the platinum-plated coffin. :o
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: kherbert05 on March 20, 2013, 08:27:18 PM
The times I've seen it fall into 2 categories
- Child killed in an accident or murder life insurance policies for kids aren't that common. I can remember people being shocked that my parents had life insurance on us - that they increased when we went to University (if something happened the insurance would have paid back our student loans).  I remember someone telling Dad he thought it was illegal to take out insurance polices on minors after the murder of Timothy O'bryan and attempted murder of his sister and 3 other children.

- Family Annihilation situations. We raised money a few years ago to bury 2 of our students and their mother after they were murdered by the "father". We also raised money one year after a staff member's sister-in-law and MIL were murdered by the SIL's husband. 3 children were left orphaned and endangered (The police think he meant to kill the children also - they weren't home from school yet because the bus was late). Our staff member took in the kids. We had staff only fundraisers (like jeans passes) to help them out.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: jayhawk on March 20, 2013, 09:29:51 PM
My dad passed away in November. He was 86 and there was no financial hardship. We put memorials to his church or his grand kids' education funds in the obit. My mom did get several cards with cash ($20-$40 or so). I think it is an older custom for out of town friends or family to send money to help, even if it probably isn't needed. Mom put it in the education funds.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: strawbabies on March 20, 2013, 09:42:19 PM
I don't think it's polite for the family to ask for donations.  But if they can't afford a bare bones funeral (and perhaps burial) they need to pay for it some way, so begging might be the only option. 

It's definitely wrong to ask others for money if they're buying upgraded products or services, like a really fancy casket.  They definitely had better not hire a limo for the family in the processional if they want other people to pay for it. 
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Figgie on March 20, 2013, 11:26:56 PM
We buried FIL this past weekend. It cost $3,000 to have the grave opened. I know it would have cost less if he'd been buried on a weekday but not sure how much less.  My in laws had funds set aside for final expenses but I can imagine a family being caught off guard by the various expenses.

Somebody once told me that people sometimes include money in sympathy cards, knowing that expenses can accumulate quickly and life insurance, if there is any, can take a while to come through. Has anyone else ever heard of this?

It is very common around here to include money in with the sympathy card.  My Father died in September and people gave the family about $1200 to donate to the scholarship in his name. They could have just donated to the scholarship fund, but chose to give us the money to donate instead of them donating themselves.

As I wrote in another post...around here you take your cues from the obituary.  If there is no request for donations to causes the deceased supported, no request for donations to causes that the mourner would choose themselves and a request for no flowers, that means that the money is needed for funeral expenses.

My Father had pre-paid his funeral with the cheapest possible options.  He was cremated with no viewing or embalming.   The funeral plot and stone were already purchased after my Mother died and even with many expenses already paid for, the memorial service and burial cost the family an extra $4,000.

It cost $500 for the (required by law) metal vault for the ashes.  $900 to dig the hole for the vault and ashes to be buried.  Another $250 to put the date of death on the grave marker.   And the cost of the basic cremation had increased by $2,000 dollars in the three years since my Dad had pre-paid.

My sister and I catered the memorial service luncheon ourselves (over 300 people came) and the local history center gave us a discount on using one of their rooms since Dad was a long-time member.   

Funerals are expensive and there is very little in our small town that you can do to decrease the expenses.  The funeral home my Dad chose was the cheapest one in town, but they all seem to charge about the same and it isn't like we have any other choices than three funeral homes located here.

And I still have steam coming out of my ears when I think about how manipulative the funeral director was in trying to get us to spend more and more and more money.  Fortunately, I don't think he knew how angry he was making my sister and I. :)  Ehell training came in very useful in the multitudes of ways I had to say no to him.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: kudeebee on March 21, 2013, 07:34:47 AM
As I wrote in another post...around here you take your cues from the obituary.  If there is no request for donations to causes the deceased supported, no request for donations to causes that the mourner would choose themselves and a request for no flowers, that means that the money is needed for funeral expenses.

I am not sure that is true in all areas.  When my fil passed this January, the obituary did not include any donation specifications as mil was not sure at that time where she would donate memorial money.  There was not a cause close to her or fil's heart and she wasn't sure if she would donate to hospital, nursing home, hospice.  She wanted to make that decision later.  I have known other families that are the same way.

Sometimes the money may be needed for expenses, but not always.

As a side note, it always amazes me that people don't have a funeral expenses savings account or a term life insurance policy (that would pay the expenses) as we all know that this is something that we are going to all need at some point in time.  It is much cheaper than having to come up with a huge chunk of money at once.  We bought the child's insurance policy on our kids,  so that if anything happened, we would have money for funeral expenses and it would be one less thing to worry about.  It was very cheap==$30 bucks a year I think.  Several other friends did the same thing;  some people may think this is morbid, but it really is practical. 
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Redwing on March 21, 2013, 07:53:37 AM
It's quite common in my area for people to place money in a sympathy card.  Some people have bare minimum life insurance and some none at all.  Many times the life insurance is going to go to support the family after a death.  When my mother passed 20 years ago, we donated her body to science as that was always her wish.  Still cost $700 at that time, so it may be even more now.

A family member asking for donations always comes off awkwardly.  But I don't think it would bother me.  I've never seen it done.  My dearest friend lost her husband, her mother, and her teen-age daughter in a horrible crime.  I went with her to make the arrangements and the funeral home was so generous to her with waiving what fees they could waive.  Still between one thing and another, those arrangements were quite costly and it was a huge financial hit on top of everything else she was going through.  She never asked for a dime, but the community she lived in and her church were able to raise a substantial amount of money.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Sharnita on March 21, 2013, 08:12:25 AM
In this economy, people.might be uneployed or underemployed. Keeping a roof over their head, heat on in the winter and enough food might be a huge challenge. Those people are likely to find medical insurance plus additional a massive burden on top of everything else so the thought that a cremation might "only" cost $3,000 is no comfort. And they are not forgoing putting money aside for the cost of their eventual death do they can spend it on luxuries. They frequently have nothing to spare.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Redneck Gravy on March 21, 2013, 08:53:47 AM
I have buried many family members and there is a huge variation in costs.

Yes, you can go with the basic funeral and pressed wood type casket for under $1000 and the funeral home will usually let you pay it out with a deposit of half.  I am a firm believer in planning a service you can afford.

You can also be talked into a much showier casket and spend $20,000 on a nicer service.  Then you can spend the next several years figuring out how to pay for it!

I have also worked some collection accounts at funeral homes and even if the family members sign a contract agreeing to pay for it over time - getting the money out of them is extremely difficult.  Taking them to small claims court gets you a judgement and I have seen enough of those to wallpaper my entire home, it still doesn't get you paid. 

I do think it is tacky to solicit funds on Facebook for a funeral or a vacation, honeymoon, new baby, etc.  It's just tacky to solicit donations to benefit YOU.

You are so emotionally upset at the time of the funeral you are easily swayed and make bad choices financially.  Sit down with other family members, clergy, friends and think this through before promising to pay a fortune on a funeral for someone else.     

Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: jaxsue on March 21, 2013, 12:17:21 PM
I tend to err on the safe side, so I have had life insurance on both my boys since they were born (then FIL was an insurance agent, so he recommended it). I was told by some people that I was crazy for doing that. Now my boys are 24 and 22, and I'm glad we did.

I'm on the fence about this; it really depends on the situation. As I said, I am careful when it comes to preparing for "what ifs." I have a large life insurance policy on my X-DH. There is one on me that was established almost 30 yrs ago. I am often surprised when I find out that there was no life insurance on a person who was the provider for his/her family. Money can be tight, but things like that were/are priority for me. I'll cut out whatever I need to to cover those bases.

There was one time when a family's request seemed off. A teenager had died. There was no life insurance. Not only did they request money to cover the burial, they asked for money to cover private school costs for the teen's step siblings! The first, I can understand; the second request was OTT.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Midnight Kitty on March 21, 2013, 12:19:22 PM
And the cost of the basic cremation had increased by $2,000 dollars in the three years since my Dad had pre-paid.
This statement floored me.  As I said, I am not familiar with funerals with the exception of my FIL's, but ... The point of prepaying is that the service is paid for, in full, and the family does not need to find more money.  Of course, costs rise over time.  However, the funeral parlor has the use of the money and has not incurred the expense of providing the service, so they should be making interest on that prepayment.  I think you had a very greedy funeral director who manipulated you when you were most vulnerable.  I've heard that some funeral directors are like that.  Just like used car salesmen are generally viewed as shady, funeral directors as a profession have earned their reputations as vultures. >:(
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: jaxsue on March 21, 2013, 12:24:54 PM
And the cost of the basic cremation had increased by $2,000 dollars in the three years since my Dad had pre-paid.
This statement floored me.  As I said, I am not familiar with funerals with the exception of my FIL's, but ... The point of prepaying is that the service is paid for, in full, and the family does not need to find more money.  Of course, costs rise over time.  However, the funeral parlor has the use of the money and has not incurred the expense of providing the service, so they should be making interest on that prepayment.  I think you had a very greedy funeral director who manipulated you when you were most vulnerable.  I've heard that some funeral directors are like that.  Just like used car salesmen are generally viewed as shady, funeral directors as a profession have earned their reputations as vultures. >:(

I have to say that, yes, funeral directors can be shady. When my MIL died in 1999, the funeral director found a way to add a couple of thousand dollars to the cost of the funeral, in spite of the prepaid plan my IL's had in place.  >:(
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Figgie on March 21, 2013, 12:44:59 PM
And the cost of the basic cremation had increased by $2,000 dollars in the three years since my Dad had pre-paid.
This statement floored me.  As I said, I am not familiar with funerals with the exception of my FIL's, but ... The point of prepaying is that the service is paid for, in full, and the family does not need to find more money.  Of course, costs rise over time.  However, the funeral parlor has the use of the money and has not incurred the expense of providing the service, so they should be making interest on that prepayment.  I think you had a very greedy funeral director who manipulated you when you were most vulnerable.  I've heard that some funeral directors are like that.  Just like used car salesmen are generally viewed as shady, funeral directors as a profession have earned their reputations as vultures. >:(

Here in Minnesota, pre-paying means that they take the money, put it into some sort of savings account and they can raise the costs of the funeral as much as they want and the family will have to pay for it.

And the funeral director was angry because we didn't want to pay $800 for a photo collage to be played along with music at the memorial service, $500 for a woven blanket with a picture of Dad on it, $150 for a rental stand to hang the blanket and $2,000 to "direct traffic" at the memorial service.

Directing traffic meant that the funeral director would stand by the door and "protect" the basket with cards so no one would steal them.  We told him that Dad would have said that anyone who needed to steal money at a funeral needed the money a whole lot more than his scholarship fund did. :)

They know exactly how to manipulate people to try and make them feel guilty.  And Dad's funeral was truly a very bare bones experience compared to most funerals and it was still extremely expensive.  Which is what happens when there is no real competition.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: jane7166 on March 21, 2013, 01:39:34 PM
In our area, I see a lot of obituaries which actually spell out that donations should be sent to the family.  I've always thought that was not very correct, etiquette-wise, but funerals are expensive, the economy is rotten still for a lot of people and I see too many young people's obituaries in the paper. 

I didn't save money for a funeral when I was younger and I can understand that most families are not planning for that either.

Both of my parents died in 2011 and we gave them each the funerals that I know they expected.  As I recall, it was about $12K each.  They had the money saved and we asked people, in lieu of flowers, to contribute to a few charities if they wished. 

I myself see no need to enrich a funeral director and have written out my wishes that I be cremated in the cheapest way possible and not buried anywhere.  If someone wants to throw a party, fine, but money is for the living, not the dead. 

ETA that I hope people don't think I begrudged my parents' funeral expenses.  This is what they wanted and I know my mom was happy with my dad's funeral and would have been pleased with hers.  I just don't want to do it that way myself. 
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: DoubleTrouble on March 21, 2013, 04:08:26 PM
Situations like this are why we have life insurance on ourselves & our children. I've had many people, including my parents, tell me what a waste it is. But it's not that expensive & to know that if something did happen there would be money to pay for funerals is reassuring.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Redneck Gravy on March 22, 2013, 09:43:35 AM
I know the difference between eating and not - but quite honestly you can buy a burial policy for a few dollars per month and know that this has been taken care of.

You know one thing for certain in your life and that is death...why leave a mess for someone else to pay for?

I know a woman and her husband committed suicide while their children were pre-teens.  He had cancelled his life insurance just prior to his death and she was suddenly on one income with a funeral to pay for and two young children to raise.  I have to think that was deliberately cruel and selfish.  She did not discover this information until weeks later.  There was no advertised fund raising but several of us that knew what was going on pitched into a fund that was given to her later and often pitched a few dollars her way prior to Christmas for the next several years.  I can't imagine the guts it would take to post that kind of information on FaceBook?  But I would still think it was tacky.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: whatsanenigma on March 22, 2013, 09:54:11 AM
This topic reminds me of a flyer on a pole I saw one time when walking around in town.  I am not sure how to feel about it.

It was a handwritten flyer (possibly photocopied but definitely not computer-printed) with an actual photograph attached (again, not printed on the document itself) soliciting funeral donations from...the general public, I guess.  It really was a tragic case-the person died much too young, though I don't remember if it was an accident or an illness or there were kids involved or anything like that. 

On one hand, I think, that is even more tacky than asking for donations via Facebook, etc.  At least the people who will see it on FB actually know either the poster or the deceased! Asking random people on the street with a flyer..wow, just wow.

But on the other hand, anyone who would do that is obviously desperate, right? If they don't have enough funeral money and can't get it from people they actually know, then can we blame them? 

I don't know....it confuses me.  But no, I did not send any money.

ETA: This flyer was not even in a place where flyers normally get posted.  It was just taped to a random pole, I think a pole that holds a crosswalk light.  Don't know if that makes a difference or not.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Sharnita on March 22, 2013, 09:56:46 AM
As far as being tacky, if we eliminated everything that could be tacky from facebook ...
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Redneck Gravy on March 22, 2013, 10:15:37 AM
As far as being tacky, if we eliminated everything that could be tacky from facebook ...

BINGO !
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Mikayla on March 22, 2013, 03:34:16 PM
For me, the dividing line is whether the request for cash is coming from the person wanting it or someone doing it on their behalf.  I will never respond well to people asking others to give them cash on FB.  But if someone is trying to help another family out, this hits me very differently, even if I can't really articulate why.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Bottlecaps on March 22, 2013, 03:36:56 PM
As far as being tacky, if we eliminated everything that could be tacky from facebook ...

Right on! :)

For me, the dividing line is whether the request for cash is coming from the person wanting it or someone doing it on their behalf.  I will never respond well to people asking others to give them cash on FB.  But if someone is trying to help another family out, this hits me very differently, even if I can't really articulate why.

Just a guess, but maybe it's because if they're asking for it for themselves, it comes across as "gimme," whereas if they're asking for it for another family or a friend, and don't have a personal stake in it themselves, it comes across as just them trying to help another person. :)
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: mmswm on March 22, 2013, 04:20:20 PM
I don't have an issue with soliciting donations in general, but some ways that I've seen people go about it can be tacky.

Also, you can't always assume that the "fancy" funerals are the result of people making irresponsible decisions.  When my uncle died, my parents were in a bad spot financially (most of their liquid funds were tied up in a rather large lawsuit).  My mother wanted to put on a decent funeral, and even managed to overcome her own negative feelings about cremation because that was the least expensive way to do it.  She also wanted to make sure that at least a portion of the services were public, because he was very well loved in his city.  As mom was making phone calls, one of the priests she'd contacted called her and told her she had to call a specific funeral director back ASAP.  The owner of this funeral home had offered to pay for the entire service.  Mom and I went to make all the necessary decisions, and every time mom tried to say something like "oh, this looks expensive", the owner fussed at her and reminded her that she was not allowed to consider cost. My uncle wound up with a far more extravagant funeral than mom would have ever planned on her own, including the use of the home's chauffeured limo for both days of the services (an expense my parents would never have sprung for, but the owner insisted on).
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Redneck Gravy on March 22, 2013, 04:30:18 PM
To mmswm

I agree with the "fanciness" of funerals being unknown to the public also. 

When my parents died just 5 weeks apart, we had not settled Mom's part and were not sure what funds there would be to cover Dad's immediately after.  My brother and I decided to forgo the limo and use Dad's suburban to haul our immediate family from the house to the funeral home and on to the cemetery.   The funeral director called the house and said he would provide that at no charge, that Dad deserved it for all he had done in our community.  That touched me knowing the unethical methods of some funeral homes.  He also told us immediately that we could pay out the remaining balance while the estate was settled - which took many months to do. 
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: mmswm on March 22, 2013, 04:43:14 PM
Slightly off-topic, but something I just remembered that I thought was incredibly sweet:

There's a cemetery in Texas that has a whole section dedicated to children.  The reason for this is that a older, childless couple, before they died, purchased the entire section, then had it appointed with several beautiful statues and a large, lovely fountain.  They then set up a trust fund to be used exclusively for the funerals of children that came from families who could not afford funeral expenses. When the couple died, they left the vast majority of their estate to that trust fund.  I've always thought that was one of the sweetest, yet saddest things I've ever heard.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: nuit93 on March 22, 2013, 05:10:19 PM
I know the difference between eating and not - but quite honestly you can buy a burial policy for a few dollars per month and know that this has been taken care of.

You know one thing for certain in your life and that is death...why leave a mess for someone else to pay for?

I know a woman and her husband committed suicide while their children were pre-teens.  He had cancelled his life insurance just prior to his death and she was suddenly on one income with a funeral to pay for and two young children to raise.  I have to think that was deliberately cruel and selfish.  She did not discover this information until weeks later.  There was no advertised fund raising but several of us that knew what was going on pitched into a fund that was given to her later and often pitched a few dollars her way prior to Christmas for the next several years.  I can't imagine the guts it would take to post that kind of information on FaceBook?  But I would still think it was tacky.

I could be mistaken, but I thought most life insurance policies wouldn't pay out in the event of suicide?
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: QueenfaninCA on March 22, 2013, 05:18:30 PM
I could be mistaken, but I thought most life insurance policies wouldn't pay out in the event of suicide?

Only if the suicide happened soon after getting the policy.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: *inviteseller on March 22, 2013, 06:27:13 PM
I don't think it is tacky to put in the obituary that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the family (and it is generally understood that it is to defray any remaining medical/funeral expenses).  But to solicit after the funeral on facebook for donations comes across as tacky and I would find myself privately wondering if someone wasn't possibly scamming for money.  When my nephew died very suddenly and unexpectedly, my brother had it written in the obituary that people could either make donations to the Epilepsy Foundation or to a bank account set up by a family friend.  We all pitched in to help him pay for the funeral (he could not get affordable life insurance due to his epilepsy) and we kept it as basic as we could while still making sure this wonderful young man was honored.  My bro made sure to pay us back with the donations then donated the rest to the foundation and CORE, but the only time it was ever mentioned was in the obituary...no one solicited. 

And on the subject of suicide & insurance, my understanding was that it was not paid out on unless you lived in Maryland where they have a law about it.
To Redneck, yes, you would think most people, especially the elderly would have made plans and have paid for it, but younger people usually don't think to do it until it becomes too late.  My former husband died suddenly at age 50 3 weeks ago and he had nothing in place.  My Longtime SO died almost 2 years ago suddenly at 43, he had insurance for his 3 kids to get some money but nothing for burial.  It is something I believe should be talked about openly in families so at the worst moment of your life, you are not having to deal with how to plan and pay for a funeral of someone you just lost.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Sharnita on March 22, 2013, 06:34:15 PM
As far as the family doing it themselves or somebody doing it for them, I seem to be in the minority but I am not bothered by the family doing it directly and actually thonk there could be some advantage to knowing that they are the ones the money really is going to.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Bottlecaps on March 22, 2013, 08:53:31 PM
I could be mistaken, but I thought most life insurance policies wouldn't pay out in the event of suicide?

Only if the suicide happened soon after getting the policy.

I remember when I had life insurance at my old job (I know, very bad of me to not have it now :-/....), the terms and conditions stated specifically that it wouldn't pay out in the event of suicide at all. That was in West Virginia though, and as PP mentioned, some states such as Maryland have different laws regarding such things.
Slightly off-topic, but something I just remembered that I thought was incredibly sweet:

There's a cemetery in Texas that has a whole section dedicated to children.  The reason for this is that a older, childless couple, before they died, purchased the entire section, then had it appointed with several beautiful statues and a large, lovely fountain.  They then set up a trust fund to be used exclusively for the funerals of children that came from families who could not afford funeral expenses. When the couple died, they left the vast majority of their estate to that trust fund.  I've always thought that was one of the sweetest, yet saddest things I've ever heard.

That is positively beautiful! I can feel myself starting to well up a bit (and I'm not easily overcome with emotion).
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: Redneck Gravy on March 25, 2013, 11:07:29 AM
I agree, it should be discussed openly so someone knows what the budget is and where to look for the policies and any other info that has to be dealt with immediately.

I have written plans and both of my children have copies; in addition to my will and medical directive on file at the hospital.   I am an organ donor and plan to donate my body to science as a cadaver.  I told my kids to throw a big party have a nice memorial service and split the rest, it's not a huge amount but it is enough to help them get a good start in life.


 

 
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: reflection5 on March 25, 2013, 12:13:08 PM
Quote
he had insurance for his 3 kids to get some money but nothing for burial.

Most life insurance companies have a way that a policyholder can assign something called a collateral.  It’s a pretty simple form to be filled out and it designates a funeral home to be paid first, then the beneficiary or Beneficiaries are paid the remainder.  Funeral homes are used to dealing with these and they are happy to assist the family (since they (the funeral home) knows they will get their money.  It is taken care of quickly, and does not go thru probate.  (Of course, premiums must be current/paid.)

I found this out several years ago when I was helping someone take care of things immediately after a relative died.  It was actually pretty easy.  The deceased had made a few people aware of the arrangement and the necessary papers, contact information were easily found.

But in order to take care of this in advance, the policyholder must make the change in the beneficiary form and sign the collateral agreement.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: hobish on March 25, 2013, 06:32:57 PM
Hobish, I had a student whose house burned down.  She and her family were able to stay with relatives but I went out and got her a toothbrush, pillow, change of clothes, towel and washcloth of her own immediately.  They just seemed likethe things I'd want if I was displaced and needed something of my own.

I bet she will remember that for the rest of her life, too. That is very thoughtful.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: flowersintheattic on March 25, 2013, 07:33:44 PM
The times I've seen solicitations for donations for funeral expenses have been in situations where the death was either unexpected or where there was a drawn out illness and therefore a lot of medical expenses that need to be paid as well. Most of the time, sad to say, it's a child who's died.

I also usually don't see requests for straight-up donations, though. What seems to be common around here are fundraising events. When my cousin's daughter died (she was 13 and the death was a suicide, so it was very unexpected), they had a fundraiser at a bar owned by a friend. The bar donated a keg of beer, and organizers (my aunt - the child's grandmother - and friends of the family) provided bbq, chips, etc. The suggested donation was $10, which got you unlimited food, pop, and free beer. (There was also a cash bar, but that money did not go to the family.) I've seen notices of similar types of fundraisers for funeral and medical expenses, and I really don't think there's anything wrong with them. The people who donate are getting something in return, which is always a bonus, and they tend to happen in situations where it's a large, unexpected expense that the family probably couldn't otherwise handle.
Title: Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
Post by: reflection5 on March 25, 2013, 07:40:22 PM
Hobish, I had a student whose house burned down.  She and her family were able to stay with relatives but I went out and got her a toothbrush, pillow, change of clothes, towel and washcloth of her own immediately.  They just seemed likethe things I'd want if I was displaced and needed something of my own.

I bet she will remember that for the rest of her life, too. That is very thoughtful.

What a great idea, Sharnita!  So practical, thoughtful, and gracious.  :)