Buddy Phaneuf, President of Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium, recently testified in front of the New Hampshire House of Representatives subcommittee on the subject of HB 301, which relates to the funeral and burial or cremation expenses for assisted persons.
Buddy spoke on behalf of funeral directors across the state of New Hampshire in an effort to educate those who will vote on the bill about how passing it could aid the would affect those in the funeral industry.
The current New Hampshire regulation states that if a resident dies with more than $1,000 in assets, they are not considered indigent under the law, and therefore, those assets cannot be accessed by state welfare in order to the deceased individual’s body buried or cremated.
If passed, bill HB 301 would authorize New Hampshire towns and cities to access certain funds for burial or cremation of assisted persons. The bill states Except when a town or city assisted person has made arrangements for a prepaid funeral, there shall be an automatic assignment to the funeral director or the person who paid for the funeral and burial or cremation of the deceased to the extent of funeral and burial or cremation expenses up to $1,000.
Buddy is in support of the bill with the two caveats that the dollar limit should be raised as the average cost of a cremation or burial is now more than $2,000. The other modification he proposed was to move the bill from welfare regulations to funeral regulations.
If the bill is approved with Buddy’s recommendations, it would allow families to access $2,000 of liquid assets for their family at the time of death, without the initial need to go through the probate process, which often takes 12 months or more. The recommendations will also ease the burden on municipal welfare offices to minimize the request for welfare assistance and allow an expedited process.
Buddy and the other proponents of the updated bill reminded the subcommittee that New Hampshire’s welfare department has been strained due to deaths related to the current opioid crisis that is claiming many lives throughout the state. These recommended updates to the bill could ease the monetary strain on state welfare, Buddy said.
Peter Morin, the Executive Director for the New Hampshire Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association, was in attendance during Buddy’s testimony and said he would support the bill with Buddy’s proposed recommendations.
Buddy is a fourth-generation funeral director and has been running the Phaneuf family funeral business since 1989.