+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. #1
    SillyLittleBoy is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    4

    Exclamation Funeral Costs - Who should pay legally or morally?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Iowa

    I'm assuming this issue, if there is any possible legal recourse, would fall under the jurisdiction of the small claims court (providing that there even is a case).

    Here's the situation: John (not real name) is the adult son of James, who has spent the last 30 years in a state correctional facility. James (the father), has never had nor sought any relationship with his son, John. The father never provided any kind of help or support for his son in any way, either financially or paternally.

    Due to health issues, the father was released from prison, because he only had a very short time to live. Two months after his release, he was laying on his death bed in a hospital. John (the son) had not had any direct contact with his father in over 30 years, nor had he ever received any information regarding his father from any third party source, such as another relative or government organization. John's only family relationships were on his mother's side, having been abandoned by his father and all of his father's immediate family.

    John's father has two brothers and two sisters, who had remained in contact with James and were aware of his hospitalization. When these siblings learned that their brother's health had deteriorated to a point where he only had a few more days left to live, they tracked down and located John (the son) to let him know that his father was dying and that he should come visit him at the hospital and say goodbye. The true agenda for the sister locating and contacting John was without any good or decent intentions.

    John took the high road and went to visit his father in the hospital, where his father actually died just a short time after John's arrival. Less than an hour after John's father died, he was told by his father's siblings that he would need to take full responsibility for making and paying for the funeral arrangements for his father, because he was his father's only child. None of these "Uncles" or "Aunts" had any dependents, because all of their children were now adults, whereas John and his wife share the financial dependency of four minor children living in their home.

    I realize that the information I've provided thus far does not really provide for any legal arguments, but does contain plenty of moral arguments against the siblings of John's father. There may not be any true legal recourse for John, since this all happened almost a year ago and John took responsibility where no one else was willing to do and it was John who made the arrangements with the funeral home. Since he was the only one who did make the arrangements, then he is the only one currently responsible for all the costs associated with the funderal arrangements, which John is paying through installment billing with the funeral home.

    It would appear that the full financial burden and responsibility for all funeral costs are legally John's. There were terms made and agreed upon solely between John and the funeral home, which may preclude John from having any case in any court, whether family law (?) or small claims. All the other information I've provided about this "case" are ones that I don't believe has any legal merit or weight and are simply moral and/or ethical issues that are outside of any court's jurisdiction or ruling. The fact that John lost his job about six months ago and is still fighting to receive unemployment benefits (a different case), so has no current income AND the fact that John also lost the use of his vehicle (repair issues) AND the fact that John's family home could potentially go into foreclosure are again "facts" that are unrelated to any of the legal issues, BUT... I'm not a lawyer OR a judge and cannot speak to any of the legal issues - legally.

    Now if I WAS a judge, then I would only have the ability to make a ruling based on my own standards regarding what is right and what is wrong. In my "opinion," at the very least, the funeral costs should have been shared amongst all of the immediate family. The fact that John did not even have a relationship of any kind at any time with his father, whereas the silbings had spent their entire childhood living in the same home as John's father AND had continued to remain in contact with him up until his death, well... it would seem to me that the "right" thing would have been the brothers and sisters taking the FULL financial responsibility for their brother's last expenses.

    Sorry for the LONG story, which may not have any merit, but maybe... is there ANY chance, any law, any precedent for John to possibly take these "uncles" and "aunts" of his to court to sue them for any part of these funeral expenses?

    Thank you in advance for any help or advice.

    Sincerely,
    SillyLittleBoy

    P.S. John IS my real name, but I'm not the John in this story (not his real name). He is actually the son of a friend mine.
  2. #2
    enjay is offline Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Posts
    870
    By signing the contract with the funeral home, John is the only one responsible for paying the bill. He didn't have to take on the responsibility but he did. It's too late to try to get his relatives to share the burden.

    Morality is subjective. I would have had dad cremated as cheaply as possible if the family he actually had contact with didn't want the responsibility.
  3. #3
    SillyLittleBoy is offline Junior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    4

    Thanks enjay

    Hey, thanks enjay for taking the time out to read my VERY LONG story/posting.

    Yes, unfortunately I figured that there wasn't anything that could be done now to help "John" with this debt he willingly took on. I'm not fully sure why he assumed this responsibility and/or accepted the word of his father's relatives that it WAS his responsibility to assume.

    Second question (after the fact): If John had refused to take on this financial responsibility and had not accepted (or believed) the counsel provided to him by his father's siblings that it was his financial responsibility as his father's only child, then who WOULD be held responsible for any funeral costs or "body disposal fees" (choosing the cheapest possible costs)?

    I'm sure that the first area of "assigned responsibility" for a deceased individual comes from the hospital, should an individual expire while under hospital care/residence. The hospital would require that arrangements be made to have the body removed from their facility as soon as possible. I'm also sure that this body movement/transport must be done by someone licensed or authorized to perform such a task. I don't think they'll let you back up the F150, drop the tailgate, and then simply slide "grandpa" into the pickup bed.

    If no one willingly accepted the responsibility to remove a deceased person from the hospital, then how would the hospital manage this effort. Same question with funeral expenses (or body disposal fees, if you will), what if no one laid claim to the responsibility and/or it's related financial obligations? Can responsibility be legally assigned or mandated to family?

    Just curious...
  4. #4
    Ohiogal is offline Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    52,951
    Hey, thanks enjay for taking the time out to read my VERY LONG story/posting.

    Yes, unfortunately I figured that there wasn't anything that could be done now to help "John" with this debt he willingly took on. I'm not fully sure why he assumed this responsibility and/or accepted the word of his father's relatives that it WAS his responsibility to assume.
    It doesn't really matter. he signed a contract. Hence by signing the contract HE made himself liable.

    Second question (after the fact): If John had refused to take on this financial responsibility and had not accepted (or believed) the counsel provided to him by his father's siblings that it was his financial responsibility as his father's only child, then who WOULD be held responsible for any funeral costs or "body disposal fees" (choosing the cheapest possible costs)?
    Was John legally James' son? Was paternity ever established by a court? Was James married to John's mother when John was born?

    I'm sure that the first area of "assigned responsibility" for a deceased individual comes from the hospital, should an individual expire while under hospital care/residence. The hospital would require that arrangements be made to have the body removed from their facility as soon as possible. I'm also sure that this body movement/transport must be done by someone licensed or authorized to perform such a task. I don't think they'll let you back up the F150, drop the tailgate, and then simply slide "grandpa" into the pickup bed.
    Then you might be wrong. In some states you can do exactly that.

    If no one willingly accepted the responsibility to remove a deceased person from the hospital, then how would the hospital manage this effort. Same question with funeral expenses (or body disposal fees, if you will), what if no one laid claim to the responsibility and/or it's related financial obligations? Can responsibility be legally assigned or mandated to family?
    The state would pick up the tab. As such the man would be buried in a pauper's grave.
    Parents should remember 3 things: Love your kids more than you hate your ex; when you have children the relationship with the other parent is until death; your children determine what type of nursing home you end up in.
    Nothing stated by me should be taken as giving you legal advice or forming an attorney/client relationship.

    Attorney-GAL in Ohio.

    I've removed the knife from my back, polished it, and will one day return it -- long after you think I have forgotten.

Similar Threads

  1. funeral costs
    By Blackat5 in forum Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 12-12-2010, 06:09 PM
  2. Do i have to pay for funeral costs?
    By vgarcia71 in forum Marriage, Domestic Partnerships and Other Family Law Matters
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 03-17-2010, 11:56 AM
  3. Morally or Legally right
    By Casey511 in forum Auto Accidents and Vehicle Claims
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 02-02-2005, 06:30 PM
  4. "she is stealing my sperm, it's mine legally and morally . . ."
    By I AM ALWAYS LIABLE in forum Divorce, Separation & Annulment
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 11-16-2002, 01:10 AM
  5. How legally/morally binding is a verbal contract?
    By Nannoo in forum Starting and Operating a Business
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-15-2000, 09:45 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

© 1995-2012 Advice Company, All Rights Reserved

FreeAdvice® has been providing millions of consumers with outstanding advice, free, since 1995. While not a substitute for personal advice from a licensed professional, it is available AS IS, subject to our Disclaimer and Terms & Conditions Of Use.