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Widow needs help to cover funeral costs

READ MORE: Widow needs help to cover funeral costs
The fatal accident on the new Oak Island bridge two weeks ago was bad enough, now construction worker Jose Montalvo's widow is struggling for help. Maria Sanchez has thousands of dollars in funeral expenses, and is planning to send her husband's body to Mexico tomorrow. However, her attorney said Lee Construction, the company for which Montalvo worked, refuses to help pay. Montalvo’s funeral cost $13,000 and workman's comp only covered $3,500. Attorney Eric Altman represents Maria Sanchez, who has three kids. He said he was told today by Lee's attorney that Lee won't help cover funeral expenses, or the more than $800 it will cost to return Montalvo's body to Mexico. The funeral director says he will send the body tomorrow in good faith that he'll be reimbursed. Altman said Montalvo had no life insurance and his widow has received some donations, but they still have a long way to go. Mr. Altman said, "There's a deficit of about $9,500 that we need to pay. I don't want to ask her to use the donations she's received to pay that because she needs that money for other things." Maria Sanchez has no form of income right now and it'll be weeks before she starts to receive workman's comp benefits. Altman is collecting donations for Sanchez at his office. Please send donations to… Maria Sanchez c/o Altman Law Firm 1107 New Pointe Blvd., Unit 8 Leland, NC 28451 910.371.5933

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resident forever & similiar situation but I won't use lawyer

I lost my husband on Dec 18th 2008. We have two boys,13 and 15. No life ins. He was in construction but worked for himself. My taxable income is around $30000. per year. I don't even want to go back to work at my teaching job on Jan 5th as I am still having post traumatic syndrome etc etc-but I will. There is no workers comp for me to recieve but I will apply for SS on Monday. My one time death benefit will be $255. Because I am 45 and my husband was 47 last week when he passed away. I buried him here in Trinidad CO even though his family is in MI and TX and other states. I would not even cremate him and share the ashes as his family did not even send ONE rep. from their family to the funeral due to travel, the weather, and the holidays. His brother oh so wanted to be here but couldn't because his sister refused to tell him she decided not to come after he waited in her driveway for her to show up at her house for over three hours. Then the snow and ice started their way. He would of made it if she had not done this to him. I will use all of my family donations to his burial costs. They are thus far less than the 3500. she will receive and she and her lawyer are asking for the burdened public to help?? Believe me we are all burdened at this time!! .

Decisions made

This is such a sad story but I just was wondering - why are they shipping his body back to Mexico when they cannot afford it? Is his widow and family staying here in the U.S. or are they going back home to Mexico in the near future? If she plans to stay here to make a future for her and the children,, it would seem to me that she would want him buried here. Is it a tradition that he has to be buried in Mexico even if there is no financial ability to do so? My heart goes out to her and the children. This is not an easy time for any of them, and the financial aspect makes it that muc more difficult. And before anyone says that I don't know what I am talking about - yes, I do! I just lost my mom a month ago so I know what the emotional, physical, and financial ramifications are. Thank God, my dad and mom had planned ahead but they also knew what they could afford, and planned accordingly. Unfortunately, because this happened so suddenly and unexpectedly, this lady didn't have that chance but surely someone was there to give her some financial advice and help with the decisions. I believe in helping when I am able, but unfortunately, we can't often expect others to help when our decisions are not made wisely.

Anne understands it

"...we can't often expect others to help when our decisions are not made wisely." That sums it up in a nutshell, people!

Let's pass the hat for REAL Americans~ Charity begins at HOME

My father died. Through Andrews it cost me $16 THOUSAND DOLLARS to send him back to CONNECTICUT~ Twenty three months later my mother joins Dad~ the cost the second time around: EIGHT THOUSAND DOLLARS. WHY? Because "Andrews" is NOT a "DIGNITY-CARE-PROVIDER". (The chain store of the funeral world). Question: If no one gives a rat's butt about sending my father, a veteran of TWO wars, back to be burried in his home plot, why would ANYONE give a ratt's butt about where to plant an illegal alien? And before you start~~ ya, the KIDS where born here but the parents are illegals. Illegals who snuck in, made kids, work illegally at jobs they aren't trained for and die. As an added bonus~~~ he sent money to MEXICO every week to help the family there. Before start crying all over my keyboard~ who's gonna give ME the EIGHT thousand I was over charged???


I've tried different companies who make short term loans for just this type of situation. However, everyone tells me they do not make loans in NC. I don't know why. If you know of someone who would be willing to extend her a loan, please let me know.

funeral expenses

Under the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, RPC 80, a lawyer may not lend money to a client who is represented in pending or contemplated litigation except to finance costs of litigation. If I could pay for my client's expenses, I would.

How convenient....

...and you know absolutely no one who could extend her a loan? You can't even discuss a loan from a third party? Let's be TOTALLY honest here, counselor. The funeral director will not extend credit because he thinks the NOK will move back to Mexico and he'll never see his money. In short order, however, your client will be offered a large settlement....or, in the longer term, a large award. She is simply facing a short term cash shortage. That's hardly a reason to go hat-in-hand to the public.

Funeral expenses

Under the North Carolina Rules of Professional Conduct, RPC 80, a lawyer may not lend money to a client who is represented in pending or contemplated litigation except to finance costs of litigation. If I could advance my client money, I certainly would.

Rules of conduct, ROFLMAO!

For lawyers and politicians, LOL. What about Pro bono if you're so concerned for your client. $13,000 for funeral expenses is excessive. The folks in the funeral and lawyer business see the chance to make big profits from families when they are most vulnerable. Say it ain't so, I dare you.

Oak Island Bridge

It's sad that this family is having to face the future without their husband/father. But what makes it worse is the company isn't going to cover the costs of laying him to rest. Funerals are very expensive, they can start at $8,000 to $10,000. Yes they could have had him cremated but some people don't believe in that, it's up to the family to choose. My prayers are with the family during these trying times and that God will continue to give strength to the widow to stay strong because it will be a long hard road especially since she is already facing this type of neglect and cold heartedness from Lee Construction but companies do it all the time. I work for a bankruptcy attorney & we have a few folks filing for bankruptcy because of the battle for workman's comp.

Yes, it's up to the family to choose...

...and if they are Catholic (likely) they do not believe in cremation. However, you cannot use your religious beliefs to contract for something you can't afford, then play Blanche DuBoise and "...depend upon the kindness of strangers."

Catholic man here

We do "believe" in cremation, and it is accepted by our faith.

Re: Yes it is up to the family

Catholics do believe in cremation-as a Catholic I see it all the time.

I left the church almost forty years ago

...and at that time, it was still prohibited. If you travel to more conservative Catholic countries, such as you find in Central and South America, it is still not common at all. The point is that the widow may not WANT to cremate him, but she must let affordability be her guide. She cannot order the super-dyna-whoppin' send off package and then claim "No tengo dinero"....and if she DIDN'T order these deluxe arrangements, her attorney should be telling the funeral home to drop dead.


WHY would the employer cover a funeral expense...MY employer isn't going to bury me...last time I checked....INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY...this company hasn't been convicted of any wrong doing in this death...WE don't know the facts as to what happened that day..for all we know..Jose could have done the short cut on the work that caused the bridge to collapse...


he could have been falling down drunk. Under NC workers compensation regulations, the workers compensation coverage will pay. What folks need to remember, insurance companies pay much less for a fatality than for a long term injury. In the case of a fatality, calculate his life expectancy and the number and ages of spouse and children. It's a pretty straight forward formula. Not much more to add in this case. It was noted he had no life insurance. Why should the employer be penalized for that decision by the deceased or his spouse? At his age, he probably could have gotten life insurance coverage for no more than $25 a month. That's $300 a year. Where the real money may come from will be an attorney proving in court that the employer's actions and negligence were the direct cause of the death. In the absence of a clear case of employer negligence, the big dollars are safe.

It won't even make it to court

I have seen cases like this before, and actually provided expert testimony in a couple related to my field. Depositions will be filed, dollars will be discussed, and a settlement will be offered. The simple fact of life is that it's often cheaper to buy them off than enter a protracted legal battle. That's especially true when the NOK is poor. They will settle for a song, because $100k seems like a fortune to them. Years ago I was deposed about a fire in Newport, NC and after my deposition the defendant offered to settle. They offered a ridiculously low amount, but the family jumped on it. Her attorney did everything he could to get her to hold out for more, but she wanted the money to move back home. This woman will be tempted to do the same thing, and the biggest challenge for her attorney will be getting her to wait until they reach that magic point where a settlement is still possible, but it doesn't tip toward "She wants too much - let's take our chances in court."


am I missing something here....I guess I'll play devil's advocate. SINCE WHEN is it an employers responsibility to bury its employees when they die? Even IF the company IS at fault it isn't NORMAL for a company to pay for this sort of thing. PLUS, it sounds like you guys have labeled them GUILTY without knowing any of the evidence as to exactly what happened. For all YOU GUYS KNOW it could be Jose's fault it failed. There is absolutely NO justification for anyone expecting an employer to bury their dead PLUS ship them to another country. For all of those who have posted...I assume your employers would ship your body to another country and pay for your funeral expenses when you die...RIGHT...WRONG...knee jerk...that's what this is.

Workers rights

While I must say that things are much better now than at any point in the past as far as workers rights are concerned, workers will always get the short end of the stick, even when it comes to their lives. That is the fundamental flaw in capitalism and no bailout or financial reorganization will ever fix that. The blue collar get the shaft, the white collar get by and the corporate fat-cats and politicians go laughing to the bank. It is a real shame and I feel so bad for Mr. Montalvo's family. My prayers are with you.

It is a time to think of the

It is a time to think of the children and wonder how the loss of their father will affect and change the rest of their lives. Instead you persist on what should, could, would, have been done. You should offer a gift as the wise men did for Jesus, not criticism because your comment will one day come back to haunt you.

Thank You...

Very well spoken. I'm sure that family would pay ten times that funeral cost to have their husband/father here for xmas. Our gov't can bail all the big suits out, but it's the everyday folks that are suffering, and truly need the help.

When the dust settles...

from the lawsuit(s) that will soon be filed are settled, she will have the funds to pay the funeral director. Sadly, the family has lost their husband/father. What would be nice to see is Lee Construction step up to the plate and cover these costs. Doing so may bode well in their favor as they stand before the judge down the road.

funeral costs

The funeral director should be ashamed to have taken advantage of this poor family in a time of grief. They could have had him cremated and sents UPS to Mexico for $525.95. He would not know the difference.


This is a sad story one that happens a lot. I do not understand why people with families have no life insurance. A man his age would have been pretty cheap to cover.'s so sad he didnt's so sad he didnt have insurance.But everyone cant afford it!.It was probably all he could do to raise his family.i know how the family feels. I was there once.They need our prayers.It's Christmas and the children lost their Daddy, and a wife lost her husband. Please pray for this family.


Was the casket gold plated? Even if you included shipping the body back to Mexico, that's thousands more than the average funeral. For a family too poor to afford life insurance, they sure can splurge on a funeral. Here's another key fact to consider - as the family has an attorney, which confirms that a lawsuit is pending, why doesn't Mister Altman simply advance her the $9500 and $800 from her eventual award? No. Instead of doing the right thing for his client, Mister Altman wants to pass the hat and have us pick up the tab. Get real!

Are you serious?

I buried my son over a year ago, and I can assure you we tried to cut cost wherever possible. The bill still ran over 10k. So if any one thinks funerals are cheap, you need to thank God you haven't lost a loved one in a long time. Obviously a long time, because prices are high to bury the dead. The funeral home and Mr.Altman should be commended for their help to Mrs.Montalvo.

Please Google "Average funeral cost"

$10k is well above average, too.

Commonsense, if you have

Commonsense, if you have found a better deal for them, I'm sure they would be happy to know it. Maybe you can share your sources. I've only been able to find old statistics, but I bet you're better at finding these things out than we are.


Under the Rules of Ethics, I cannot advance money to a client. When I received the invoice for the funeral I was shocked.