Family feels indigent burial laws need updating

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NEW MARKET, Ala. (WHNT) --  When Faith Owens found out here nephew who she had not heard from in over a decade had terminal cancer and had no other family, she took him into her home where he spent his last days before passing March 9th.

Richard Dockins left this world with not a penny to his name, no possessions, not even a photo could be found to be attached to the one line obituary that ran in a local newspaper following his death.

Owens says she applied for indigent status for her nephew since he did not have his parents or children of his own, but the county denied her request. They say Owens makes enough money to afford to pay for the service out of her pocket.

Owens and her husband who is disabled live in a modest home in the New Market area. She works a part time job and makes about $1,000 a month.

"This will put a significant strain on our family, and we will do the right thing and pay for this funeral bill, but we feel in this situation our government should have stepped up and helped out," Owens told WHNT.

County officials say they do pay for a handful of indigent funeral bills each year.

The funeral home who is handling this case has promised to only charge the discounted "indigent rate to the Owens family, even though they did not get the official designation by the state.