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My mother passed away 2 1/2 years ago. My sister was managing the funeral (executrix) and I was there to help since neither of us were sure that she had any remaining life insurance and I was trying to keep the cost down. To summarize, I informed the funeral director that my mother probably had little or no life insurance (she had been disabled since 1968 and the factory that had carried her life insurance had closed over ten years ago.) and we had to keep our costs down. I asked to see a price list and he informed me that if I saw a casket I liked - he would let me know the price. No caskets were priced. There was no general price list etc. He showed us what looked to be a fancy cardboard box (we ruled that out quickly)... eventually settling on one of his cheaper caskets (still ok for her brothers and not an embarrassment). During this process, I had asked him if I could possibly get a cheaper casket and have it shipped in... he informed me that there wouldn't be enough time (mother died on a tues... we selected on the wed. and the viewing wasn't until fri. !) he also stated that he didn't want something cheap in his funeral home and a situation in which my mother could fall out the bottom! Needless to say, my sister managed the rest of the arrangements with my wife ( I was in a school f/t 75 miles away and had to get back to class) Next time I saw the director Wm. Rumbaugh was a couple of hours before the viewing that Friday... at that time he went over the costs and had them documented on the bill. He read the account of charges and stated that if everything was okay to sign. My sister signed. He then asked me to sign the agreement... I asked him why and he stated that it was just a formality and to show that I was in agreement with my sister. The price of this service was $8500! There was only one flower arrangement ... for which he charged $285. The reality of the situation was that neither of us really reviewed what we had been charged. Longer story short... My mother did have some disability money and a $5000 life policy left. My sister paid $8000 of the $8500 and arranged to make payments for the rest... I had paid an extra $500 and she was to pay the last $500. She made a number of small payments but suffered a disability and was only making minimum payments. The director told her that he wasn't going to chase after her since she was disabled but told her that he was going to go after me for the money! I was sued at the district magistrates level in Pa. I appealed and worked with Attorney David Morrison (Elder law atty. here in Pa.) He agreed to take my case pro bono ( I had lost my business the year after my mother died and was penniless) The hearing was in front of a 3 panel arbitration board. Mr. Rumbaugh's attorney stated that he had provided Casket price list, general price list etc and had followed the law to the "T". He had actually forged my signature (facsimile copy of same) on a number of documents... had actually stated for the record that he did not even know my sister! and then inferred that he had been fighting with me for over a year and a half trying to collect his "well" deserved fees (they had now climbed to well over $1200! Sadly, my attorney listed over a dozen discrepancies in Mr. Rumbaugh's testimony - forged signature ( he actually stated that he had my signature on file and had applied same to some documents that I had never seen but that had been available for me to review had I asked.... at that time I didn't even know the process let alone enough to ask to see FTC forms etc.)
Lastly, the whole process came down to a who do you believe... My attorney told me that the three attorneys on the arbitration board would most likely side with the funeral director for political expediencey ... they were all local Huntingdon, Pa. attorneys. Now, I am just waiting for the bad news about how much they will try to get from me... help anyone you can that is suffering the loss of a loved one... the funeral industry is absolutely dedicated to the sole proposition to make as much money as they can possibly make at a time when the bereaved's senses are at their lowest What a racket! I now have the information that I needed back then... too little too late. However, I am going to get involved in setting up a six county funeral information society here and attempt to get out as much information as possible to save others from the nightmare that I recently went through. The name of the funeral parlor in Huntingdon, Pa. where all of this happened - Brown's Funeral Home.
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Re:Aftermath of my mother's funeral
23 Jun 2009 04:10 #242