Your Guide to Funeral Planning | 11.01.2022

Who's Legally Responsible for Funeral Costs?

Who's Legally Responsible for Funeral Costs?

Reviewed By: Elizabeth Siegel

Cross Checked By: William Prout

4 min read


    Who is legally responsible for funeral costs

    It is legally stated that the person’s estate pays for the funeral. The death of a loved one can come to you as a shock. Planning for a funeral and figuring out the expenses is going to be an unavoidable conversation with your family. This gets trickier if you haven’t planned for the funeral already.
    If you are organizing the funeral last minute, make sure to go through a post-loss checklist to make sure you’re meeting all the requirements and demands of arranging a funeral.

    How are funeral costs met?

    As mentioned earlier, funeral costs are covered using the deceased’s estate. The estate includes any properties, savings, life insurance, or other assets. When the family deals with the death, they will have to look into these assets and make a call on how they plan on covering the expenses.
    You should know that no family member is obliged to pay for the funeral. If the funeral has been planned in advance, the family members will know what to do and how to use the funds that are allocated for organizing a funeral for their loved one.
    In case the deceased has not prepared for a funeral in advance, nor owns any assets that the family can use- in this case, the costs fall on the executor or administrator of the estate.
    The deceased usually appoints the executor in a will. If the deceased hasn’t left a will behind, the court will appoint an executor. Usually, it is the next of kin who plays the role of executor.

    Costs behind the funeral arrangements

    On average, a funeral costs around $10,o00. The next of kin or executor, ideally, make use of the assets left behind to pay for the funeral. If the deceased hasn’t left behind any funds, in that case- the executor will not have to dig into their own funds. The court will help them source the funds by looking into the deceased’s estate or will ask for the family members to contribute towards the funeral arrangements.
    It’s always better to have conversations about funeral expenses with your family in advance. This way, you can start saving and planning ahead of your funeral, saving the money and time of your loved ones.
    Remember, you can always arrange a budget-friendly funeral. Cheap funerals are respectable and admirable. Bringing down the expenses and buying what you need for a funeral can also save you from having disagreements or conflicts between family members, especially during an unplanned funeral. 

    If the deceased doesn’t have any assets left behind, no family member is obligated to pay for the funeral. In that case, you can always let the court know about this decision. The local county will take care of this and organize a free funeral.

    How does funeral insurance work?

    If the deceased has always had a funeral insurance plan, (burial or pre-need funeral insurance) the beneficiary, or the person named in the policy, will receive the insurance proceeds. The beneficiary is in no way obligated to use this money to pay for the funeral service. 
    In case there is no beneficiary named on the policy, the insurance proceeds will go to the estate. The next of kin can then use these proceeds to pay for the funeral expenses.
    There may be an instance where the next of kin might have to dig into their own pockets to pay for the funeral before probate. In this case, the family member can file a claim with the probate court and receive the funds later. The court is allowed to accept or deny your requests so it’s best that you stay careful while making such decisions.

    Arranging a respectful funeral

    When you’re experiencing the loss of your loved one, money will barely be on your mind. Yet, in such instances, it’s best to have conversations with your family members on how to go about situations like this. It’s safest to pre-plan and have a will to avoid confusion within the family. You can find will makers online that help you draft wills where you can mention your last wishes. The next of kin is responsible for arranging the funeral and acting as the source of contact for everyone during the funeral. He/she will also have to deal with the funeral home and sign a contract with them. Although there is usually one person named as the executor, the entire family must get together and help each other out during these distressing times.