Is My Family Legally Required to Pay for My Funeral Expenses?

Family Paying for Funeral ExpensesThe simple answer is no – not unless they sign a contract with a funeral director obligating them to do so and your estate does not have enough assets to reimburse them.

Without burial expense insurance, the typical sequence of events is the following:

  • Family members make all the necessary decisions regarding the funeral – a casket or urn, flowers, plot, headstone, etc.
  • A family member signs a contract agreeing to pay for the funeral expenses which typically will allow up to 30 days to be settled.
  • Debts of the estate are prioritized and paid. Funeral costs are legally one of the top priorities.
  • If the funeral expense contract has already been settled, then the estate reimburses the person or persons who paid the funeral expenses.
  • If the estate does not have enough assets to cover the funeral expenses then partial reimbursement is made and there is no legal liability for anyone to help reimburse the person who signed the funeral expense contract.

So the reality of the situation is that in the absence of sufficient estate assets or an adequate burial insurance policy (which pays the funeral home directly) the deceased’s loved ones are left not with a legal obligation, but an emotional obligation to ensure that the deceased has a proper funeral even if it causes them a financial burden.

If you want to ensure not only that your final expenses do not fall on your loved ones please consider purchasing an adequate burial expense insurance policy.