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Unexpected Expenses That Can Come With a Death

Posted August 22, 2012 by Amy Nicole to Family Finance 0 0
This post was written by a EasyFinance.com Community member. The views expressed below may not reflect the views of EasyFinance.com.

A death in the family is difficult to deal with on many levels. Sadness and grief are often quickly replaced by a sense of urgency to take care of all of the necessary details, like notifying family and friends, writing an obituary and planning the funeral. Often, you will also face unexpected expenses. It’s not a pleasant reason to save, but it is a good idea to be aware of the financial burden that can come from losing a loved one. You can save yourself some added stress by preparing in advance for costs commonly associated with the death of a loved one.

Funeral

The average funeral costs $6,560, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. That’s about what you can expect to pay for basic services, including embalming, the ceremony, a casket and use of a hearse. It doesn’t include the price of an obituary or a headstone. Extras like flowers, acknowledgement cards and limousines for loved ones can add thousands of dollars to the cost of your funeral.

Some people choose to prepay their funeral expenses so that their loved ones don’t have to worry about them during their time of grief. If you or someone close to you is considering prepaying, do some research to find a licensed and reputable funeral director. Remember to store your paperwork in a safe place and make sure somebody you trust knows where to find it.

Medical Expenses

Unfortunately, sometimes people suffer from prolonged illnesses or require extensive end of life care before they pass away, which can lead to huge medical bills. For example, a typical cancer patient who has health insurance still faces about $700 per month in out-of-pocket costs, according to Duke University Medical Center research. Prescription medications alone can take a heavy toll on a patient’s finances.

The surviving spouse may wonder who is responsible for these bills. Laws pertaining to the debts of the deceased can be complicated and vary by state so the best advice is to consult an attorney about your rights and responsibilities. Unless you set aside a large amount of money to pay for any end of life care, you or your loved ones will likely end up with some unpaid medical expenses.

Unpaid Property Taxes

If you inherit a home from a loved one’s will, you may be surprised to find that it is encumbered with unpaid property taxes, and it is your responsibility to pay these taxes. If they remain unpaid for too long, a local government agency could seize the property.

Many families are forced to sell property after the death of a loved one because they cannot afford to pay the taxes. If you find yourself in this situation, look for a good local real estate agent who can help you get maximum value for your property. As hard as it is to sell the old family home, it might be necessary to help cover unexpected expenses.

Property Cleanup

Taking care of a loved one in their final days is usually on the top of your mind, but taking care of their property is usually far down the list of your concerns. Before you can sell an inherited home, you may need to clean up the property. Water damage, mold and unpleasant odors are common problems found in old houses. When a tragic event such as unattended or violent death occurs, the family might have to hire a company that specializes in bio cleaning services to make sure blood and other unpleasant materials are disposed of properly.

Try to find an organization that employs certified professionals and that has a track record of providing high-quality, compassionate service. Although homeowners insurance often covers cleanup costs, you may incur some out-of-pocket expenses.  Using a reputable and trustworthy crime scene cleanup company may prevent you from paying any out-of-pocket expenses as these companies will often work with homeowners insurance companies to cover the costs associated with repairing the property damage.

About Amy Nicole: Amy Nicole is a freelance writer and recovering financial delinquent resolved to turn her finances around in her mid-20s. She enjoys running, college football, and spending time with her family and dog. 

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