County Seeing Increase in Need for Burial Help - 8 News NOW

County Seeing Increase in Need for Burial Help

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Anita Macaluso Anita Macaluso
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LAS VEGAS -- The Clark County Coroner's Office said many families do not have a plan in place when a loved one dies, leaving the high costs to those left behind.

As a result, many families are turning to the county for help paying for burial or cremation.

Nine months after the death of his wife, Anita, Charlie Macaluso still hangs onto a lifetime of memories, displayed above his TV.

"She was great, she was just a great lady," he said.

A diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease left Anita Short of breath, eventually landing her in hospice care, where she died shortly after.

Unable to deal with his wife's eventual passing, Macaluso didn't have an insurance policy in place at the time of her death.

"That can add up," he said. "It can cost more than they can ever expect."

Local mortuaries said the average funeral and burial can cost between $10,000 and $12,000, a cost they said many Nevadans never anticipate.

Macaluso was left making tough financial decisions in a time of crisis.

"Between $800 to $5,000," he said. "Whether it's for cremation or regular funeral."

Those at Clark County Social Services have seen an uptick in the number of people they are asked to bury or cremate.

In the past year alone, they've handled the remains of more than 1,000 people.

"Our cases, our referrals have gone up about five percent from last year, and we've seen double that, maybe about 10 percent over the last two years," said Anthony Malone, of Clark County Family Services.

Despite opting for cremation in 97 percent of county cases -- a far cheaper option -- Clark County is also spending more -- about $500 per body.

That's up from about $400 per body just years ago.

Clark County Coroner Mike Murphy said this shows how Nevadans are increasing unable to cope with the high cost to bury or cremate on their own.

"We are seeing those numbers creep up," Murphy said. "I think that one of the reasons is because of the financial restraints in our area."

Macaluso said he was able to pay for his wife's cremation in full, but the experience has changed how he plans for his own future.

He has now paid in advance for a plot in Fresno, Calif., where they can rest in peace together forever.

"I want to be next to her," he said.

Bunkers Mortuary said there are a few things you can do to keep funeral costs low.

First, plan ahead. You can secure a service, plot or cremation at today's rates and use a payment plan.

Secondly, have any money for your funeral secured in a trust or insurance policy. That way you can protect yourself from fraud.

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