Burial for the Indigent

The high costs of funeral services creates a problem, because many people pass away without having the means for their own burials. Their remains still have to go somewhere.

Every year, thousands of people with very little money pass away. Sometimes, it is not even known who these deceased people were in life.

While this might seem like a minor issue and something that has always been the case, it creates an increasing burden on local governments. They must determine what to do with the bodies of deceased people, who either cannot be identified or whose families do not have the money to afford burial or cremation.

It is not a minor expense, since the costs of disposing of a deceased body continue to rise.

One county in Florida had such a significant problem that they purchased a cemetery, as the Tallahassee Democrat reports in “A priceless burden: Indigent burials at Leon County’s ‘pauper’s cemetery’.”

The cemetery previously belonged to a hospital, but the county purchased it to dispose of the remains of the indigent as cheaply as possible. Graves are marked with the most basic of markers and no actual funeral services are allowed at the cemetery.

The deceased are buried as quickly and with as little fuss as possible.

This is an issue that could get worse before it gets better.

Elderly people are living longer and in greater numbers. That makes it likely that many more elderly will pass away in the future, after they have run out of their own money.

The burden to bury them will be on the government. Elder law advocates may need to address this problem in the near future.

Reference: Tallahassee Democrat (June 24, 2017) “A priceless burden: Indigent burials at Leon County’s ‘pauper’s cemetery’.”

Custom Coffins

If you have always wanted to be buried for eternity in an airplane, largemouth bass or something else, that can be arranged.

When people plan for their own funerals or for those of recently deceased loved ones, they normally choose from a wide-range of coffins at varying price points. Most of these coffins have a lot in common. They are all in the basic shape of a rectangular box. The shape has been standard for a long time.

However, the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog reports on a different type of coffin in “The First Family of Custom Coffins.”

A family in Ghana is in the business of creating coffins in the shape of just about anything, so that people can be buried in something that represents their life. A YouTube video of their work is available at the blog’s website.

This is part of a larger trend concerning death and funerals. People are choosing to turn away from traditions in place of specific ways for the deceased to be remembered. The trend includes everything from humorous obituaries to lavish services and now custom coffins.

Many families find that by customizing the funeral experience in unusual, nontraditional ways, they get a better sense of closure and peace.

There is a potential downside to this trend, however.

The unusual arrangements are often made after the deceased has passed away. That leaves open the question of whether it is how the deceased would like to be remembered.

One thing people can do to make sure they are remembered in the way they want, is to leave specific funeral instructions as part of their estate planning.

Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Dec. 30, 2016) “The First Family of Custom Coffins.”