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Letter: My mom saved for an elaborate funeral, but it still wasn't enough

My mother had multiple whole life insurance policies and scrimped and saved every possible penny to have a big, elaborate funeral. When she could no longer be in her home, the insurance policies had to be cashed out, the house sold, and only $8,5...

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My mother had multiple whole life insurance policies and scrimped and saved every possible penny to have a big, elaborate funeral. When she could no longer be in her home, the insurance policies had to be cashed out, the house sold, and only $8,500 could be put into a prepaid funeral account. Only $6,000 of this amount was excluded as an asset, the remaining $2,500 counted against her $3,000 asset limit, per ND Medicaid Excluded Assets 510-05-70-30 Revised 1-1-18 ML #3508. The rest of her money was either spent down--buying things she didn't want or need--in order to be eligible for Medicaid or it went to the nursing home to pay her bill.

When she did pass away, we were told the minimum funeral was $13,500. That's quite a difference from $8,500. We were able to whittle it down to $11,500, but the funeral was very small and held at the funeral home. If mom's body would have been taken to the nursing home for a memorial service, then back to the funeral home, and then to the church for the funeral, each time the body would be moved and an additional fee of $350 would have been incurred.

Mom would have been extremely upset that the grand funeral she had planned, scrimped and saved for didn't happen. We tried to follow as many of her wishes as possible, but we just couldn't do everything she wanted within that monetary limit.

Funeral directors: If you know the maximum amount Medicaid allows for a prepaid burial account is $8,500, why don't you make an $8,500 package?

ND legislators: When and how was this $6,000 (or $8,500) amount set? It should be adjusted to be in line with current, actual costs. It should be increased and adjusted annually or semi-annually for inflation. Allowances should be made for people in smaller communities where there is only one funeral home and no competition as one would find in larger cities.

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Unless cremated, there is no possible way to have a nice funeral for $6,000 - $8,500 in a small community in North Dakota.

Mom did everything she was supposed to do. She had the life insurance policies, had money set aside, etc., but in the end it didn't matter. Her family still had to pay thousands of dollars for the balance of the funeral; exactly what she did not want to happen.

Belgarde lives in Hatton, N.D.

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