TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - When some people die, they have family who can take care of the expenses if they're not already paid for. However, there are others who don't have that available.
Twin Falls County Coroner's Office (KMVT image/Elenee Dao)
County officials said they take that burden on when a person's family doesn't have the money to pay for mortuary services, burials or if there is no family found.
"We get about two or three or sometimes four unclaimed bodies a year," explained Will Carson, the chief deputy coroner for Twin Falls County.
The Twin Falls County Coroner's Office will then take about two weeks to try and find family.
"If family has not been found within two weeks, or longer, we do hand it over to the county treasurer's office for any valuable estate," Carson said.
If a person has family that doesn't have the money to pay for a service, they can then apply for county assistance.
"If the person doesn't have any assets available to them or family members that can take care of the costs, then that's where we see the applications going to the county's office," said Kristina Glascock, the clerk of the district court for Twin Falls County.
The county commissioners are the ones that go through the applications.
"They will make the final decision whether to approve it or deny it or whether they'll actually request some of the pay back, if somebody in the family is able to pay some back to the county or if that person has a small amount of assets to help pay some of that back," Glascock said.
For this current fiscal year, the county budgeted $30,000 for these cases.
"We've spent close to to $9,000 this fiscal year," she explained. "It varies from year to year how many applications we get. We've had years where we spent close to $30,000 and then it was $10,000 or $15,000 that the county spends."
Glascock said the commissioners set the price of how much they would pay a mortuary to do either a service or cremation.
A cremation would cost $950 and a burial is $1,425.
If a person dies and doesn't have family, the coroner's office holds on to the cremated remains.
"It is more work trying to find family. It is easier if family does come forward and say 'Nevermind.' At least we do have family and they can make some decisions, but the ones that don't have any families, those are the difficult ones," Carson said.
The cremated remains of those who don't have family will be held, basically forever.
"We can't dispose of them just in case family comes back later and says 'Where's my uncle?' We have to hold onto them that way we can give them back to the family," he said.
Regulated by state statutes, they have 27 cremated remains currently in their possession.
"The oldest one we have is in 1994," Carson said.
Because they never know if a family will come back and ask for the remains back. The county is the last resource.