MIDLAND--A Midland family said they can't afford funeral expenses after life insurance policies for their loved one was cashed in without their knowledge.
Jewel Lee Junior, 59 died Wednesday night in his nursing home, however the family said when they went to prepare for the funeral, the life insurance policies they believe equaled up to nearly $10,000 weren't there anymore.
The family said guardians from the Covenant Outreach facility cashed in the policies illegally.
However, in a phone interview with Big 2, Covenant Outreach owner Shelia Watt said, that's not true. She said the company was well within its rights to cash in the policies.
The family said it's hard having to bury a loved one, but the information surrounding the policy funds makes the problem worse.
"It's a shock anyway that he passed , then to find out that they cashed in several insurance policies it's even more shocking," said Lee's niece Wanda Younger.
The family said the organization shouldn't have cashed in the policies.
"They never contacted us to let us know they were going to court to get guardianship over him. They never contacted the family about cashing in his policies or anything like that. They just did that on their own" said Younger.
Meanwhile Watt said, legally the company was granted the right in 2008 by the courts when no family stepped forward in regards to the guardianship being granted. She said, after Covenant granted that position, they were then put in charge of Lee's finances, healthcare and funds.
The company representative said, the policies weren't cashed in for their benefit, but were cashed in an effort to make it so that Lee would qualify for Medicaid. Watt said, the policies didn't actually add up to $10,000. They said the one of the policies grew with time and with that it made qualifying for medical help impossible.
The family however sees things differently.
"They shouldn't have cashed in those policies. Policies are for people to bury folks when they pass away and now they don't want to pay the full amount because they wanted to cremate him," said Younger.
Since the policies were cashed in, and upon Lee's death, there is only $2,000 in assets to go toward funeral expenses, and the family said cremation isn't how they want to remember their relative.
Now, the family warns others of this cautionary tale.
"Anybody that has family in a nursing home, they need to really check on everything because like I said, if we can prevent one more family from going through this that's our goal," said Younger.
If you're interested in helping the family with medical expenses they've set up a memorial account at Wells Fargo Bank.
Acct Number: 3319405704
"JEWEL LEE JR. MEMORIAL FUND"