Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

Planning for your funeral expenses helps reduce the stress on your loved ones in their time of grief. This guide is about financial responsibility for funeral costs.
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May 15, 2015 Flag

My ex-husband just passed and I was told by the funeral home that being that we were married 25 years and never married anyone else that I am responsible for half of the funeral expense. Is this true that there is a law for this?

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May 16, 20150 found this helpful

Sounds to me like the funeral home is doing a number on you, trying to "sell" you.

Despite being divorced, you were together a number of years and I'm sorry for your loss.

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May 16, 20150 found this helpful

I enjoy learning. I do a lot of research on the Internet. This time I'll guess, instead. If anyone does research this subject, they are welcome to show me right or wrong.

I'm guessing there's no state or federal law making anyone responsible for anothers funeral expenses. That includes children, parents, spouses or ex spouses.

Even if you were the beneficiary of a burial policy for the deceased, I don't think there's any law requiring a person to use the money for its intended purpose.

We may, in time, be required to carry burial insurance made payable to a state approved or state appointed undertaker....pretty much like today's car insurance. I wouldn't doubt it.

Hope I haven't given the undertakers and legislators any ideas.

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May 16, 20150 found this helpful

I never heard of such a thing! Please check with your state and local governments about this. I think someone is trying to take advantage of you. Sorry about his passing, but I believe you have no obligations where he is concerned.

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May 16, 20150 found this helpful

Absolutely not! You are NOT responsible for any of the burial costs!

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March 15, 2016 Flag

My sister and I are not close. If she passes, am I responsible for her funeral costs?

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March 16, 20160 found this helpful

Why not ask a lawyer (and mention where you both live)? I understand the laws differ rather markedly from place to place.

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March 16, 20160 found this helpful

This link answers some questions.

http://blogs.fi  tives-death.html

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February 5, 2014 Flag

My mother in-law remarried 8 years ago. They live in my mother's home and he will continue to live there after her death. She has let her life insurance lapse and she is now 80 years old. If she died first who should be responsible for paying for her funeral?

By Harriet W.

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February 5, 20140 found this helpful

That is something your husband should discuss with his mother and step father. That being said, if there aren't any plans already made, it would depend on how your husband feels about his mother. There are inexpensive funeral plans. If nobody in the family can afford a funeral, counties will do an inexpensive one.

In my case I will have to have the county pay my final expenses and there is one cemetery in town that has one area that has been blessed and is referred to as a spreading garden, where a person's ashes can be spread and a cement stepping stone is made with the person's name, date, etc. and put in place in the garden, all this for $100.00, plus the cost of cremation.

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February 6, 20140 found this helpful

Bodies can be donated to a university for research. But I don't think anyone can be held financially responsible for another's fineral expenses. I could be wrong. I don't have a whole lot of friends, only one sibling left so I've told my two children, no funeral, no viewing and as simple as you can make it. That does not mean you loved me any less and I'd rather they have my money than a funeral director who would, more than likely, try to rip them off.

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February 6, 20140 found this helpful

Red Hatter has some very sensible advice. This is for your husband to discuss with his mother, and it depends very much on how you wish to celebrate her life after her passing. Many people prepay for their funerals, so that their children are not burdened with expense, nor spend far more on a show for the community than the parent would want.

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December 2, 20140 found this helpful

If the man she remarried is still alive, he is responsible for the costs of her funeral. Best to have a discussion with both of them. If she paid into the policy long term then there may be funds. You need to find that out.

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September 3, 2013 Flag

I am legally married to a woman who recently passed away. Her family decided to pull the plug and I was present during that decision. Now they want me to pay for her funeral, but we haven't been together for more than 14 years. Am I legally responsible to pay the funeral cost?

By DP

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September 4, 20130 found this helpful

Yes, legal spouse followed by adult children. Perhaps you could all pitch in? You can cremate for less than $1,000 in WA state.

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September 5, 20130 found this helpful

You are saying that you and your wife have been separated for 14 years, and there is no one in her family who would rather step up and take care of her funeral? Did no one care for this poor woman? Were you living totally separate lives, or was she confined to a care home or something like that? Well, that isn't really my business, but it seems to me that whoever inherits her estate should step up and take care of the expenses. However, if there is no estate, and you can afford to pay for the funeral, perhaps you should do so, as a final act of respect for this woman whom you once loved.

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September 5, 20130 found this helpful

In most states the spouse is responsible for funeral expenses as well as all bills the person has left behind. Only 14 years together? If your wife were a millionaire, what if her family said you all had only been together 14 years so really that isn't long enough for him to get anything. This was your wife.

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September 24, 20130 found this helpful

Yes, some state the spouse is responsibility, and also you can donate the body to science and it want cost you a thing or you can just have the body burned and throw the ashes to the wind. Since you have been seperated for so long there may not be anything legally that ties you to her, her family can go half with you on the funeral, and I will check and see if there was an insurance policy!

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July 6, 2010 Flag

Who's responsible for a funeral when there is a spouse?

By Linda

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July 6, 20100 found this helpful

I would think the spouse would be responsible. I don't know who else it would be.

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Anonymous Flag
July 7, 20100 found this helpful

The spouse unless someone else volunteers.

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July 7, 20100 found this helpful

The spouse is. It is a debt just like any other. But by the same token, the funeral can be as simple as can be afforded. No one should make the arrangements except the one paying the bills.

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July 8, 20100 found this helpful

I agree that the spouse would be; when you're married, his debt is her debt and the other way around unless some sort of legal agreement ( like a pre-nup) was in place at the time of the marriage that specifically stated otherwise and was agreed to by both parties.

The only other monkey wrench in the machinery may be if they were legally separated when the other died, or the surviving spouse left to live in a different location a long time ago and there was never a legal separation or divorce. In that case, the family's best bet is to contact an attorney.

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October 25, 2012 Flag

If two people are not married who is legally responsible for funeral costs and medical bills?

By Norma

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October 25, 20120 found this helpful

I think the funeral director will ask who will be responsible for the cost. They don't take care of business first and then ask who is to pay after. Best bet is to call a funeral home and ask how payment is handled for funeral costs. They would have the answers.

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October 26, 20120 found this helpful

Unless you have paper work drawn up, the information will be requested of your family...legal family. Get some power of att and executor work done at the lawyers. You might end up with a pauper's funeral or cremation when you want something else.

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November 16, 2013 Flag

My partner left his wife and came to live with me. We were together for 2 years. He never divorced is wife and he has now died. I've been told that his wife is the next of kin so she has to arrange the funeral and handle the cost. Is this right?

By Luela from Lancashire

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November 17, 20130 found this helpful

I would think that would be right, but then on other hand if she is resentful of the situation she might not be inclined to do so. That being said I would never admit to having a married man live with me. If his wife doesn't do the funeral and you don't want to do it, turn him over to the country as being indigent. Unless he has a bunch of money in savings and you can get to it, in which case use that. You aren't really entitled to have anything of his other than what you purchased together. Did he have a will and did he by any chance have pre-made funeral plans.

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July 6, 2010 Flag

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.

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)

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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April 30, 2010 Flag

My mother recently lost her husband of 35 years. The day before he passed his daughter got him to sign a power of attorney for his funeral arrangements. The daughter took over, had a funeral that my mother could not afford, and now wants my mother to pay for it. Who is legally responsible for these bills?

By Mel from Fort Wayne, IN

Answers:

Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

If your mother had no knowledge that her husband signed a power of attorney the day before his death, your mother is not responsible for the expensive funeral. I'm not an attorney, but any judge will tell you that. The daughter has to pay for the whole bill. It was very nasty of that woman to do that. (11/15/2009)

By MCW

Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

If she made the arrangements and she asked for the services then she gets the bill. Did she ask you if the arrangements or the services were acceptable? If she did and you said yes then you are responsible.

In a financial power of attorney, common agent responsibilities include dealing with accounts, paying certain bills on behalf of grantor and taking care of tax issues.
http://www.ehow.com/facts_5479375_power-attorney-responsibilities.html?ref=fuelandutm_source=yahooandutm_medium=sspandutm_campaign=yssp_art

And for future reference for others I found this little tidbit of info. "A power of attorney ends upon your death. Thereafter your will, or the law of intestacy, governs the handling of your estate. A power of attorney document is not a substitute for a will."
http://www.mainelse.org/poa.htm

And this link might help. Someone asked a similar question before. thriftyfun.com (11/15/2009)

By Suntydt

Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

I will never ever understand such venomous and selfish acts people do in situations such as this.

I agree with MCW that a judge is most likely going to throw this case out if it goes to court. Have your ammunition ready though to help present your mother's case. Like MCW, I also am wondering if your mother was aware of it "at the time of signing"? If so, what was her state of mind and emotions? Was she the decision maker in the home or was your step-dad (I ask this because your mom might be the sort of woman who has no clue about financial and legal obligations and didn't understand what your step sister was up to)?

Make sure you have items such as copies of medical records of what medications he was on, what (I am assuming) disease did he have? He most likely was so medicated that he wasn't even in his right mind. Get a copy of the power of attorney. Was it simply signed only by him? Were there witnesses? Was it notarized? Have a list of the doctors and nurses who were caring for him on the day he passed away and preceding days and how to contact them in case you need them as witnesses of his mental and physical state.

One other thing that will help would be to find out what your mom and stepdad had discussed between them about how much was expected to be paid for a funeral. In all fairness and good ethics, your mom should be willing to pay the portion of what it would have cost if she had been the one in control (perhaps you and other family members could help with some of the expenses if she's unable to come up with the entire amount). If the case does go to court her doing this gives an even better chance of showing that your mom is not trying to get off the hook for her fair share. Not paying a fair share would be taking advantage and make her look like as big of a low life as your step sister.

And last, but definitely not least, I am sorry for you and your mom's loss and that she has to go through such a nasty ordeal during her time of mourning. (11/15/2009)

By Deeli

Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

Get a lawyer, good luck. (11/15/2009)

By kffrmw88

Financial Responsibility for Funeral Costs

I'm very sorry for your family's loss. Did the daughter meet with the funeral director, make all the arrangements, and sign all the applicable documents? If she signed the contracts she should be on the hook for the bills. Funeral homes want someone to take responsibility for payment so someone would have been asked to sign. If she forged your mother's name you have a very different problem. Have you asked the funeral director who they are holding responsible? If he is expecting the daughter to pay based on her agreement by signing the contracts? Then your mother will not be asked to pay. I hope you get this resolved so your mother with be able to grieve properly without this hanging over her head. (11/15/2009)

By Dixie's Mom

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