What is a reasonable cost for a funeral?
Our office recently received an email from a client who was a co-executor for her mother’s estate. Our client was upset because her mother had an estate valued at under $25K, and the other co-executor was planning an elaborate funeral. Our client was concerned that, given the small estate, there may not be any funds left to pay the deceased’s bills after paying for such a funeral.
As executor of an estate, you are responsible for all reasonable expenses for the disposition of the deceased’s human remains, having regard to the deceased’s "station in life" and circumstances on death. A funeral for a former politician or rock star is expected to be larger and more formal than a funeral for a regular citizen. We explained to our client and her sister that the type of funeral that was being planned was not in keeping with the deceased’s lifestyle and that the desire for an elaborate funeral may be coming from a place of grief, rather than a consideration of what the deceased would have wanted. A simple funeral would save the estate funds, ensuring that the estate could meet its debt obligations, and potentially even save a small amount of funds for distribution to beneficiaries.
If you are an Executor and get a call to plan a funeral, make sure you have a good idea of the deceased’s assets and debts before you commit to a large, expensive funeral. If you have questions or concerns about an estate that you are involved in, contact Estate Connection Law Office. We are here to help.