News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

May 18, 2009

Struggling economy raises questions on how to pay for indigent burials

TERRE HAUTE — The expense of death in hard economic times usually is trumped by the cost of living.

Who plans for funeral costs when it is tough enough to cover housing, utilities and food?

When a person dies in Indiana with no savings, insurance or family able to pay for the funeral, the financial obligation falls to a township trustee. But even then, the amount that a trustee will pay does not cover basic burial costs.

That shortfall has Vigo County Coroner Dr. Roland Kohr concerned that area funeral homes and cemeteries will stop accepting indigent, or pauper, burials. This, in turn, would lead to a further dilemma of what to do with the corpses of the poor because there is limited storage space for bodies in the county.

“In the 20 years I’ve been coroner,” Kohr said, “there’s been no increase in the amount from the trustees. The rates haven’t changed since the mid-’80s. In this economy, that is not an option.”

In Indiana, township trustees are charged with the task of paying for pauper burials from their poor relief funds.

The standard amount is $450 to a funeral home for burial, and up to $450 to a cemetery for opening and closing a grave.

But those amounts do not come close to covering the cost of even a direct burial, which does not include a funeral with a ceremony and visitation. Mortuaries must absorb the loss.

Kristi Smith of Roselawn Funeral Home said a direct burial covers a cardboard container for the deceased person, but no embalming, funeral or visitation. Even with the $450 from the township trustee, she said, family members making arrangements are asked to pay another $150 out of pocket just to approach covering the funeral home’s expenses.

“Most families can usually do that,” she said, “even if they just ‘pass the hat’ among themselves.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
Latest News Poll
AP Video
Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Raw: Palestinians and Israeli Soldiers Clash Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Fox Dons 'Bondage Strap' Skirt at Comic-Con Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Today in History for July 26th Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase
NDN Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -


    March 12, 2010