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By LuAnn Schindler
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Burial assistance policy reviewed by county commissioners

 

March 20, 2024



Should a person whose burial is paid for by the county need to be a resident?

“It’s not necessarily what the amount is. I’m more concerned if we’re paying for Antelope County residents or if we’re paying for people applying because the county next door isn’t paying as much,” said Jay Snider, owner of Snider Memorial Funeral Home.

Snider, a Clearwater resident, opened discussion with Antelope County Commissioners during the March 12 meeting in Neligh. Snider said it’s been approximately 18 years the topic was discussed.

“We’re paying for somebody whose never lived here,” Snider said.

According to Charlie Henery, commissioner chairman, the county will pay up to $2,000.

Some counties pay an established amount for cremation services. A traditional burial means extra expenses for a burial plot and grave digging.

“We haven’t got anywhere yet,” Snider said.

Commissioner Casey Dittrich inquired how the county’s application for funds works.

According to county clerk, Lisa Payne, said she works with the county treasurer’s and assessor’s offices to verify if an individual has property that can be sold to assist with burial costs.

“For the most part, we’ve had people who reside in the county. There’s been a couple who have come to live with a relative,” Payne said.

According to Snider, the may have performed one county burial in the past two decades.

“Now, all of a sudden, I’ve had two in six months,” he said.

Payne said in the past two months, the county has provided assistance with five burials.

Snider would like to see an established set of county guidelines.

Henery said the county board has the right to refuse funds. He said he appreciated Snider starting the discussion with the board.

“I’m not one to let you guys hang, you’re doing your job. I’m taking care of taxpayer money, too. I think we need to check on what the residency (requirement) is,” Henery said.

According to Snider, in the case of a recent burial, the individual lived in the county four days.

Payne asked what happens if a county resident provides care for a non-resident family member at the resident’s home.

“Whether you’re here four days or years, your kids are still here,” she said.

“They might be the residents but they’re not the ones passing away,” commissioner Neil Williby said.

“They’re the ones paying the bill,” Payne replied.

According to Snider, local counties work with a social worker from Nebraska Health and Human Services to help locate assets that will aid with burial costs.

“Then she approves or denies whether the county will pay for it,” Snider said.

Henery asked if it would be beneficial for the county to develop a relationship with a social worker to locate assets.

“Would it be beneficial for the county to spend some money to have someone research it?” Henery asked.

Payne said she’s worked with other counties to determine if there is value in the estate, either personal property or real estate. She also has used geographic information system mapping to determine if, for example, a deceased’s next of kin has assets.

If there are assets, the claim is denied.

“I’m not going to let my dad sit out in the mortuary if I have any kind of means to bury him,” Payne said. “I’m not trying to be negative or socially excluding, but for the most part, the people I see coming for this don’t have it.”

Snider said he is willing to contact other funeral directors in the county to discuss the situation. Again, he suggested a clear-cut policy be established.

Henery said any policy will need to have approval from the county attorney and suggested Smith check state statutes regarding residency.

 

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