SPOKANE, Wash.-- It is something many taxpayers have probably never thought of, but continue to pay for year after year.
If a person who is both unclaimed and broke, taxpayers foot the bill when the body must be cremated. It costs about $500 for one cremation.
Unclaimed remains have stacked up through the years in Spokane County. Currently, more than 300 remains have yet to be claimed.
In recent months, the medical examiner has dealt with unclaimed remains on a weekly basis. The majority of the time, investigators end up either locating family or funds to cover handling of the remains. But when no one can be found, that cost falls on the county. In 2012, there have been ten cases that have gone unclaimed. If the trend continues, it will exceed last year’s numbers.
A handful of different funeral homes perform the cremations on a rotation. There is no specific time table set for when the cremation takes place. Investigators said it happens once all leads have been exhausted to find a next of kin and there are assets to cover the cost.
If a family member comes forward down the road after the cremation has taken place, they can take the remains free of charge.
There is a list of the unclaimed dead in Spokane County available on the medical examiner’s website.