When a loved one dies, family members and close friends typically come together to comfort each other and begin the process of making funeral arrangements. Planning a funeral is never easy, and it can be a heavy emotional and financial burden for the bereaved family. The question of who should pay the funeral costs can be especially tricky, often leading to difficult disputes and family conflict in a time of grief.
Funeral expenses are usually paid out of the deceased person’s estate, and the executor is responsible for making sure funeral and burial costs are sufficiently covered by estate assets or property. However, this assumes that the decedent’s estate has enough funds to cover the charges in the first place. Timing is also an important consideration, as the executor needs time to assess the financial status of the estate before deciding. This can take several weeks to complete, and the delay can be a significant barrier to making funeral arrangements, which generally need to be finalized soon after death occurs.
If the deceased had no assets or property, it falls on the next of kin to pay for the funeral costs. However, no one is legally on the hook to pay funeral expenses unless they sign an agreement to that effect. As such, family members cannot be forced to pay for a funeral, which means that a husband or wife is not liable for paying their spouse’s funeral costs, and children are not responsible for paying funeral expenses for their parents. In most cases, family members come up with a financial plan to bury their loved one, but this process can be fraught with conflict. If monetary resources are limited or non-existent, then there is no funeral service.
Funeral directors are a great resource in these types of situations and can offer valuable guidance to family members on how to pay for a funeral. There are various options for families unable to pay funeral expenses for a loved one, e.g., some states offer funeral and burial assistance, and military benefits are available for eligible survivors of U.S. veterans. For more information on funeral assistance, read our ultimate guide on paying for a funeral.
The named beneficiary on a life insurance policy can use the proceeds to pay funeral costs, but they are not legally obligated to do so and can spend the insurance money as they please. If the insurance policy does not have a beneficiary, then the proceeds go to the estate of the deceased. Keep in mind that it can take up to a month or more before the life insurance company pays out, and funeral expenses are usually paid upfront. Funeral insurance is also an option that families can seek to help pay for the costs of a funeral.
Paying funeral costs for a loved one can be a stressful experience. Doing research and comparing prices between funeral providers is the smart way to go about it, and Funeralocity makes the process easy for families during this difficult time through our funeral comparison website. Start the process early by searching for a funeral home near you.Back to Knowledge Center