Wills and Probate

Funerals: Who is responsible for them?

When someone passes away, there are many jobs to do.

One of the first tasks is to arrange their funeral.

Usually this is done by the next of kin, whether or not they are an executor to the estate.

But who is expected to pay for the funeral from a legal point of view?

Executors

If an older person dies, leaving a son or daughter as their executor, they would normally deal with the funeral.

However, if the executor is not the deceased’s closest relative, they may not be the best person to make the personal arrangements.

Who can make the funeral arrangements?

The deceased’s executor has the authority to make funeral arrangements.

In some cases other family members may be better placed to deal with such matters.

If the deceased did not leave a will, then their next of kin, who is entitled to be the estate administrator, can deal with the funeral.

The Rules of Intestacy determine who inherits the estate in order of preference.

Usually, one of these individuals would put themselves forward to be the administrator.

The most important thing to consider with a funeral is that there is good communication between family and friends, so that everyone knows what will happen.

Who is responsible for paying for a funeral?

Funeral costs are usually (ultimately) paid from the deceased’s estate, but all of the expenses will need to be paid upfront before estate funds are available.

The funeral home, caterers, venues and florists can all require payment at the time they are booked.

The person doing the booking and signing the contract is responsible for paying but they can claim against the estate if they keep the receipts.

Paying for a funeral

Some people may have a pre-paid funeral plan in place, which will cover some of the costs.

If the executor or other person making the arrangements is not able to afford it, the deceased’s bank can be asked to pay the funeral director, if sufficient money is available in the account.

Alternatively, the deceased may have had a life policy in place which might be accessible for funeral expenses.

Funeral wishes

The deceased may have left funeral wishes, either in a will or other separate document.

This can be very reassuring and helpful for those left to make the arrangements knowing that it is what they would have wanted.

Funeral wishes are not legally binding however, so an executor does not have to follow the directions strictly if impractical.

Here to help

If you would like to speak to one of our time-served solicitors, regarding writing a will, our Wills, Trusts and Probate Team can help on 01772 799 600.

If you need to defend a claim under the Inheritance Act, contact our Dispute Resolution Team on the same contact number.

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