Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

My mother passed away Aug 9th, 2009. She was married and her husband (my step-father) did not show up to make the funeral arrangements, we waited for an hour. The funeral home allowed us to make the arrangements based on my mother's wishes and allowed him until 1 week after her funeral to come in and sign the papers. He never showed up and would not answer our calls. So my sister and I had to go sign the papers.

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My stepfather also had a burial policy that he promised to send to the funeral home and has not. I mailed in all of the paperwork to his employer with a death certificate that listed the funeral home which the check needed to be made out to. Well of course he waived the right for the funeral bill to be paid and kept the check for himself.

My question is, if you are married and something like this happens can the legal spouse be held responsible and be made to pay for the funeral arrangements? If I would have known this was going to happen when she was diagnosed in 2006 I would have made sure that she had a policy to cover this, but even then he would have received the money because he was her husband. Please, anyone who can help, please respond.

By Tracey from TN

Answers:

Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

I would consult an attorney and pronto! If nothing else, you might be able to sue him in court to recoup some of the money. (04/30/2010)

By notwrong

Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

I agree, sue him in court. (04/30/2010)

By kffrmw88

Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

I am so sorry you had to suffer this cruelty and injustice in the face of grieving for your mom. How awful! I also have a step-parent who could easily pull a stunt like this. You have taught me a lesson in advance, so thank you for sharing. And again, I hope you find some comfort and legal assistance soon! God bless you! (05/01/2010)

By PainterLee

Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

After my father died rather suddenly, my mother pre-paid her own funeral costs so my sister and I would not have to. Thank you Mom! Just this summer my sister died from a short illness and it was horrible for her husband to have to plan out everything as she lay dying. Please at least lay money aside and plan it all out "just in case." It's the best way of loving your family. (05/01/2010)

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By yoder178

Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

I would sue him and ask for a jury trial if it is allowed. I have seen on Judge Judy where the rightful person was made to pay the costs. I think you could win. What a terrible person. Definitely see a lawyer. (05/01/2010)

By Ann Parker

Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

It is a downright nasty thing that your step-father did that! My step mother pulled a lot of nasty tricks but that was one thing I put my foot down on! (They were one month short of being officially divorced and hadn't even lived together for two years when he died but she had the legal right to 'take over' and she did.)

He took advantage of you and your sister's grieving, hoping you would end up signing! I told my step mother to sign or (as awful as this sounds) my daddy would rest at the funeral home until she did sign! At that point she had no choice but to go in and sign because the funeral home kept calling her because she was the spouse!

With that said, you can get a free consultation from a lawyer(s) on what to do. Depending on the financial limit in your jurisdiction you and your sister can each file (together but separate claims) in Small Claims Court and would only have to pay filing fees (which are recouped when you win). Be sure to have everything documented and lots of chronological informational notes to present your case.

Also, did your mom have a Will or any sort of wishes written down and signed in any form?

Has the creepy father in law even made sure you were given your mom's mementos such as photos, her jewelry, items she came in to that marriage with (and especially the ones that were from her and your dad's marriage)? If he hasn't done that it could possibly help your case, too!

And I am so sorry for the loss of your mother! It's been 22 years since my daddy passed away and I still have moments where I break down sobbing. I miss him so much but time has definitely taken the worst of the grieving pain away and it will become better for you and your sister too! (05/01/2010)

By Deeli

Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

You need to speak with an attorney. If you can't afford one, call legal aid in your area or join Prepaid Legal out of Oklahoma. I've been a member for over ten years and the money they have saved me has offset the $15. per month I pay in dues many times over. (05/04/2010)

By Heidi's Mom

Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

Thank you so much for all of your responses, I have an appointment on 5/7 with an attorney. I will post other updates as I get them. Again thank you, for your sympathy and comments. (05/05/2010)

By Tracey

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