Frustrated family plans to sue Surrey funeral home after burial contract mixup

Grandmother pre-paid for casket and funeral but funeral home
was none the wiser until family found contracts after she was buried

Ester Verdant pre-paid for her own casket and funeral

SURREY — A family who says their grandma Ester Verdant was buried in a “wrong, cheaper casket” after Valley View Funeral Home in Surrey failed to inform them she had already bought a nicer oak casket for herself 13 years prior, for nearly four thousand dollars, is planning to sue in small claims court.

“This entire ordeal has caused much grief to the family, specifically Grandma Ester’s children,” said her granddaughter, Maria Thelle Kim.

Kim said that after her grandmother Ester died this past July at age 95 her family contacted Valley View and told them they believed arrangements had already been made for her funeral, but a director told them there were none. Based on this information, Kim said, a new contract was entered into for the funeral. As her grandma’s bank account balance was low, Kim said, a cheaper casket was bought for $1,925.

Kim said that while cleaning out Verdant’s personal belongings after her funeral and burial on July 9,  her daughter-in-law found a contract for a $3,936 oak casket which the grandmother had bought from the funeral home on Jan. 29, 2002, paying for it through monthly installments over four years at 9.64 per cent interest. These amounts, she said, were held in trust at TD Trust.

Kim added that on Feb. 1st, 2006, her grandma had also entered into a contract for her funeral arrangement, not including the casket. This, she said, involved an insurance contract with Assurant Insurance to be paid out at time of death.”

“They didn’t bother to check,” Kim alleged of the funeral home.

“It’s an awful ordeal. Bottom line is they didn’t fulfill her wishes, based on the contract.”

Kim said her grandma had clearly not wanted to be a burden on her family and so chose to scrimp and save for a casket “from her hard-earned money.”

Justin Schultz, Valley View’s funeral home manager, declined to comment on the matter.

“We don’t discuss our client files at all,” he said.

“I wouldn’t want to violate our typical procedures.”

Kim said that after her family contacted the funeral home with the upsetting news, the director was “very apologetic.”

“This entire ordeal has caused much grief to the family, specifically Grandma Ester’s children,” Kim told the Now. “If it was not for the family discovering the copy of the contract, the family would be out the amount of money paid for the funeral, while the original amounts paid by Grandma Ester were never recovered. This is even after the family specifically asked Valley View to check for an existing contract.

“Grandma Ester’s children are wrought with guilt, anger and emotional distress from the fact that she was buried in the wrong, cheaper casket than what she wanted to be buried in, and had already paid for.”

According to Kim, the funeral home offered to pay out the amounts received from the trust company and insurance company for the two contracts but the family replied it wasn’t sufficient considering Verdant had been buried in the “wrong” casket because of the funeral home and the surviving members of the family had suffered “much emotional distress and sleepless nights unnecessarily.”

tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com

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