When a loved one dies, there are a lot of things that have to be handled – including the disposition of their earthly remains.
One of the first things that you’re forced to confront is the issue of who will pay for your loved one’s funeral – and how. Here’s what you should know:
The primary responsibility is on the estate
Whether the deceased left a will or not, the primary responsibility for covering funeral costs generally falls to their estate. With that in mind, here’s what loved ones should be asking:
- Did the deceased leave behind any prepaid plans? It’s not uncommon, these days, for people to pay their own funeral costs in order to take the burden of both the planning and the expense off their loved ones’ shoulders.
- Did the deceased have a pension, a death benefit through their employer, or military service? If so, there may be funds available to cover the basic services that way, and they may be more immediately available than money from the estate.
- Did the deceased leave an insurance policy? Insurance policies tend to pay quickly, and the money (unless it is directed into a trust or the estate itself) will bypass the probate process, making it available for use for a funeral. However, it’s important to note that the beneficiary isn’t under any obligation to use the funds that way.
- What’s left in the deceased’s estate? If there is a will, the executor may be able to tell if there’s enough money there for the funeral costs – although that money typically won’t become available right away.
It’s wise to remember that the funeral home will usually allow anyone to sign a contract for the services – and they may even do so knowing that the money won’t be available until the insurance pays out or the estate is settled. However, if there’s any kind of issue, the person who signed the contract would ultimately be responsible for the bill.
To avoid problems for your heirs, it’s often wise to make funeral planning part of your estate planning process from the start. That way, you know that your heirs won’t have to struggle with that final bill.