Author Topic: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?  (Read 7895 times)

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Figgie

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #30 on: March 21, 2013, 12:26:56 AM »
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.

kudeebee

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #31 on: March 21, 2013, 08:34:47 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. 

Redwing

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #32 on: March 21, 2013, 08:53:37 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.

Sharnita

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #33 on: March 21, 2013, 09:12:25 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.

Redneck Gravy

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #34 on: March 21, 2013, 09:53:47 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.     


jaxsue

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #35 on: March 21, 2013, 01:17:21 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.

Midnight Kitty

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #36 on: March 21, 2013, 01:19:22 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. >:(
"The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit.  The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are."

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jaxsue

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #37 on: March 21, 2013, 01:24:54 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.  >:(

Figgie

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #38 on: March 21, 2013, 01:44:59 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.

jane7166

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #39 on: March 21, 2013, 02:39:34 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. 
« Last Edit: March 21, 2013, 02:44:06 PM by jane7166 »

DoubleTrouble

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #40 on: March 21, 2013, 05:08:26 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.

Redneck Gravy

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #41 on: March 22, 2013, 10:43:35 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.

whatsanenigma

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #42 on: March 22, 2013, 10:54:11 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.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 10:56:06 AM by whatsanenigma »

Sharnita

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #43 on: March 22, 2013, 10:56:46 AM »
As far as being tacky, if we eliminated everything that could be tacky from facebook ...

Redneck Gravy

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Re: Soliciting donations for funeral expenses?
« Reply #44 on: March 22, 2013, 11:15:37 AM »
As far as being tacky, if we eliminated everything that could be tacky from facebook ...

BINGO !