WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Mary Ann Mayberry never gets tired of looking at pictures of her baby brother. They went to the beach and the mountains often, went to air shows with fighter planes and spent lots of time out on the lake, “I miss the little fella,” said Mayberry.
Mark Henderson was 59-years-old when he passed away earlier this year. Henderson had Downs Syndrome and battled dementia the last 12 years of his life, “He lived with me so I could take care of him,” said Mayberry.
Along with the day to day responsibilities required to take care of her brother Mayberry also handled his finances. One of the items she took care of early on was making sure her brother could have a proper burial.
Mayberry went to a funeral home and set up a payment plan to cover the costs of a funeral, “It was like $7,400 and I made payments on it,” said Mayberry. “I paid it off a long time ago.”
After Henderson died, Mayberry went to the funeral home to make arrangements but was surprised to learn things weren’t exactly what she thought. Mayberry thought she just signed up for a simple funeral and was making monthly payments to pay it off like you would a car or an expensive item, “I didn’t understand what they were telling me at first,” said Mayberry.
Turns out Mayberry signed up for a life insurance policy on behalf of her brother. Policies like this are very customary but somehow there was a miscommunication between Mayberry and the funeral home.
Mayberry would soon learn the policy matured and was actually worth around $11,000. A new contract was written up to reflect “today’s prices” according to Mayberry and the cost of the funeral was around $9,000.
Mayberry figured the remaining balance would go to her but when she asked the funeral home director explained the contract states the funeral home receives the money, “They basically explained it was their money and that I signed a contract,” said Mayberry “I didn’t feel that was right.”
Mayberry reached out to our Call for Action Team to see if we could help. Our volunteers reached out to the funeral home to better understand what happened. The issue centered around the life insurance policy that Mayberry signed, “I didn’t know it was a life insurance contract,” said Mayberry.
The director of the funeral home explained exactly what the policy was and how it was explained to Mayberry. Why there was a miscommunication is unclear, but the policy is something standard that most funeral homes would use.
The funeral home certainly did nothing wrong in having Mayberry sign up for this policy but unfortunately, there was some confusion as to who received the “extra” funds associated with the policy.
The way it was set up and how almost all policies like this work is any extra money would go to the funeral home. After looking into the matter, it does not appear the funeral home did anything wrong and is entitled to receive the money.
When we reached out to Mayberry to explain what had happened, we learned the funeral home had decided to give the balance of the policy to Mayberry. In this case, the funeral home had every right to keep the money and yet it wrote Mayberry a check for more than $2,000, “I want to say thank you so much, without you this would not happen,” said Mayberry.
If you ever find yourself in a situation like this when making funeral arrangements ask the person at the funeral home how the entire process works when your loved one passes, make sure you know exactly where the money is going and review all documents and save them.
Our volunteers always try to assist people who reach out to us with a problem or a complaint but in this case, all we really did was make a few calls and provide information. The real hero, in this case, is the director of the funeral home who chose to give Mayberry the money generated by the policy.
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