Determining who is going to pay for the funeral of a loved one who recently died can make an already stressful situation worse. The responsibility to plan and pay for a funeral most commonly falls on the surviving spouse. The situation can get a little more murky if there is no spouse. Commonly the next of kin or most immediate family member will be held responsible.
This does not necessarily mean that they have to pay out of their own pocket for the funeral arrangements. You might be relieved to know that paying for the funeral with your own money does not happen as frequently as you might assume.
This article is meant to examine where the financial responsibility of a funeral falls to in a situation where there is no surviving spouse, as well as how exactly the funeral gets financed.
The Estate is First Held Liable for Funeral Costs
When somebody dies, all of their property and money forms what is known as an ‘estate’. If somebody dies with any kind of debt, then the estate's funds must first be used to pay the debt.
This is also true for the funeral. If the estate can cover the cost of the funeral service then it will. Normally if somebody dies, their estate will have money to cover the funeral expenses. Obviously this isn’t always the case. If they can't cover all the cost of the funeral service then this where family will have to contribute.
Who Is the Closest Family?
The burden of financial responsibility will officially fall on whoever signs the contract with the funeral home for the funeral service. There is really no set in stone rule for who steps up. Every situation will be different.
The burden should not fall solely on whoever happens to sign the funeral home contract. This might just be whatever relative who lives closest to where the recently deceased has died. Ultimately, the best case scenario is the entire family pooling funds together to pay for any uncovered expenses. If everyone contributes a little, then one person will not have such a large financial strain.
It is important in a time like this to have family and friends band together to support each other. However, the support should not be limited to emotional support. The surrounding family and friends, while they might be deeply affected by the death of a loved, should still try take on some of the responsibility in making funeral arrangements.
Nobody should want the bereaved spouse/closest relative to feel overwhelmed with planning a funeral and financing it, which is why taking on the burden of making funeral arrangements is such a caring and supportive gesture. Their might not ever be a more powerful way to bring a family together than the death of a loved one. Use this time to grow with each other and support each other.
Check out How to Plan a Funeral from Beginning to End: A Step by Step Guide for helpful funeral planning advice as well as How to Save Hundreds on Funeral Costs.