Funeral arrangements

This will be my first time sharing arrangement responsibilities for a funeral. Just asking for thoughts, general advice, and opinions, or similar experiences. YANML etc. Long Island area.

  1. Basically everyone is broke so I’m wondering how we are going to pay for things. I’m next of kin. I know he didn’t have insurance. He might have money in the bank, and there’s a car and small plot of land I might inherit, but I assume liquidating any of these will take too long to be useful in paying for the funeral. Is there some kind of funeral loan? Will my status as next of kin offset my credit issues?

  2. It’s Monday going into Tuesday now. It seems to me that having the wake and burial on the weekend makes the most sense, but someone suggested it should be much quicker. We are nominally Catholic and I had the impression only Jews had a quick burial tradition. What’s the cultural norm for this? I thought making it on the weekend would make it easier to deal with paperwork and financing, and also make it easier for people who work to be able to attend. Is there some counter argument?

  3. I guess this is sort of tangled with legal stuff, but maybe you can point me towards a clue or two. I’m the next of kin but there’s no will. How do I go about transferring property, titles, accounts, etc?

Also, I guess I’m inheriting the house, but my Aunt is living there. I’m also inheriting a plot of land next door. My first thought is to sell off the land but transfer the house to my aunt or sell it to her for cheap. But technically my Dads exgirlfriend from long long ago has her name attached to some of the paperwork. Assuming she isn’t contesting, will this be a hassle? Assuming she is, will a lawyer defer payment based on the outcome?

Any advice and opinions welcome. Thanks!

I’m sorry for your loss.

If he didn’t have a will, then he died intestate. You don’t have the authority to transfer anything. Look up what the succession is in New York to see if you are even in line, and if you are (and if you are the only child and your Dad is unmarried, then you are), you can ask to be appointed administrator. Then you will have to file a petition in Surrogate’s Court.

Social security has a small death benefit that can pay for a basic cremation. If the deceased is a veteran, you have that option also.

There is nothing technical about “exgirlfriend from long long ago has her name attached to some of the paperwork”. She is either an owner or she isn’t. If she is on the deed, then you need to see if his portion passes on to his heirs (tenants in common) or if title is held as joint tenants in common. If so, she has rights of survivorship. That means his share passes on to her, and she own the whole thing. You can look up the deed at the clerk’s office to find out.

Talk to the funeral home. Some places will allow you to make payments. Tell them you want ROCKBOTTOM everything. No enbalming, no viewing, a pine box. No kidding, they do have them. A pine box is actually nicer than the least expensive casket, which is pressed cardboard, I think. You want a “direct burial,” which is essentially a graveside service. (If you say “graveside service,” it costs more.) Some funeral directors are worse than used car salesmen, and love to play the guilt card. Have someone go with you to make sure things don’t get out of hand.

If your father was a veteran, you can request burial in a National cemetery, at no cost to you or him. Otherwise, a traditional burial will cost you the plot, a fee to open the grave, a concrete liner, and a marker.

My husband and I made the arrangements for both of my parents. It certainly isn’t easy, but having an idea of what is going on will help a lot.

If you want to wait to the weekend, that’s your decision. You will be charged for refrigeration. But it is NOT state law that you must have enbalming.

You can probably get yourself named executor of the estate and then you can use the estate money if any to pay the estate’s debts, like the funeral.

I forgot to mention: Don’t feel guilty or ashamed about your price point.

I am sorry about this. I helped make the arrangements for both parents, and we are Catholic. Talk to your priest. You can have him cremated, and then have a memorial Mass said whenever you want. If there are not a lot of people to notify, you can do without paying for an obituary.

If you have an objection to cremation, you can tell the funeral home you would like the most inexpensive of whatever they have. Every Catholic funeral I’ve been to in the last five years or so has had a viewing at the church right before the funeral Mass, not at the funeral home the way it used to be.

Did he have a lawyer? Or, do you? I think you will need legal advice to deal with the estate.

My condolences for your loss. Like others have said, check with the priest. If allowed, you can find reasonably priced arrangements through the Neptune Society. See their website. The RC Church also allows cremation, so consider that, too. Again, see the priest.

Yes, the Catholic Church permits cremation, but the ashes are to be interred intact, not scattered.

Cremation with the ashes being returned to you is probably your cheapest option. You can have a memorial service anywhere–church, park, someone’s house, etc. A funeral home for the service is going to be more expensive then having a memorial service elsewhere.

Thanks for all the advice!

The story so far…we went to the home today and basically told them we had no money. Unfortunately, the bare minimum of things we could get my aunt to agree to was still going to cost over 9 grand, even with the funeral home giving us some discounts and so forth. We asked about the social security benefit, but they said that was only worth it if there were no assets (which they would hold any benefit against), and only if we were getting the truly bare minimum cremation and nothing else. I asked about funeral loans from the bank and they said what people usually do is put it on a credit card because surprisingly the interest is lower for that.

We came up with some complicated finagling of borrowing from people and taking out a no interest credit card. But then, miraculously, in a dark hidden recess, we found a tiny stash of money he had apparently saved for this occasion instead of taking out insurance. So yay, we can pay for the thing now.

So now, in terms of dealing with transfer of property, what’s my best option? I imagine I’ll need a lawyer for dealing with the house - even if the deed turns out to be clean, there’s still the issue of splitting the empty lot off from the main one. But I don’t want to throw thousands of dollars at someone (assuming I could afford that) for handling every minute detail if there’s some things I can handle myself. Is getting letters of testamentary and administration, getting access to his bank account and changing the vehicle title, things I can handle myself?

I know this sounds cold & heartless, but if she want’s a 9K+ funeral let her pay for it herself.

Seriously, if your choices would’ve been less than this, then that aunt better be coming up with a big share of money, because whatever wad of cash your father left shouldn’t all be going to buy a pretty, expensive box that’s going to buried under mud and flowers that’ll last a week.

I’m sorry for your loss.

I can’t help with #1 or #3 since I have no funeral planning or estate experience. As for #2, I’d be very surprised if someone died on Monday but the funeral wasn’t until Saturday. The vast majority of funerals I’ve attended have been Catholic and all two/three days after the deaths, but even the Protestant one was still no more than three days after the death.

For the funeral/interment, something I’ve seen done (generally for people who died away from home, such as at their child’s or in a big hospital that’s not local to them) is have two funerals, one at the cementery that’s “family only” and one at the deceased’s parish on the weekend for people to attend.

Also, I don’t know how local this custom is, but in Spain the family will normally have the deceased’s name added to the names of the deceaseds who get mentioned in Mass, for three Masses in the three days following the funeral. Someone from the family will attend those Masses and thus be available to receive condolences from people who are able to attend them but not the funeral.

That’s way too much for people who are broke.

Why is this your aunt’s decision?

I think we got it down to 8700. But that’s with no church service, cheapest casket etc. There’s no way she could handle not having a wake and burial (and he had already paid for most of his plot).

The property: If you are talking about adjacent lots in the city, there may be no need to split anything. You need to see the deeds. SOME counties, to increase revenue, have made a ruling that if two adjacent lots are owned by the same entity, they automatically become one lot, which means a pain in the butt, probably hiring a surveyor, maps filed, fees paid, to separate the lots again. I sure hope this isn’t the case.

Before you go hire a real estate attorney (and you would need one who specializes in real estate, not the one-size-fits-all lawyers), talk to a realtor. He or she would know most of the laws in your area, and would jump through hoops to get a listing.

And IMHO, if Auntie wants the wake and all that folderol, Auntie can sign the contract and pony up the bucks. It sounds like she’s got some major guilt going on, and a funeral is her way of paying the emotional debt. It sure doesn’t need to be your dime, in that case.

Please accept my sincere condolences. I hope you have some warm memories of your father to comfort you.

Cremation, if that’s compatible with your wishes, can also be less expensive than a burial. No gravediggers, you can get a reasonably-priced urn (or hell, even a cardboard box if you’re going to scatter the ashes somewhere), you can have whatever memorial service either in a room at the funeral home, or even in your own (or his own) house.

You do need to consult with a lawyer - an initial consult shouldn’t be too costly. The possibility that the ex-girlfriend might have some ownership in the house means there might be some issues there. As others have noted, if she’s on the deed, it means she may well own half or even the entire house.

Ah - I’d forgotten that the OP mentions being Catholic. Yes, this is true.

Moot point I gather since cremation is NOT desired, of course.

For what it’s worth, my mother (also Catholic) wanted to be cremated. She had expressed a wish to have some of her ashes scattered at a place she loved. We asked the priest if this was acceptable (since it would, after all, be treating the remains respectfully for some definitions of “respectfully”). He said, basically “what I don’t know, I don’t care about” with a wink.

So, a very small bit of Mom attended her funeral in a small plastic pill bottle in my purse ;). My brother later visited the place in question and took care of the scattering.

Be sure to order multiple notarized copies of the death certificate. When I did it, the funeral director ordered them and it was added to the bill for the funeral. I think I ordered 3 and that turned out to be enough.

Make copies of the notarized copies. In the time to come, some places will take the regular copies and some will only take the notarized ones. Having them ready on hand will save you a lot of grief, because ordering them later is more complicated. You’ll be surprised at the number of times that you’ll need one.

The social security death benefit is not reserved for the funeral, it comes directly to the beneficiary. In any case, you’ll need to notify them.