Can You Pay Funeral Expenses Before Probate?
Posted on 14th April 2021
After a bit of a hiatus from blogging, our expert team of local solicitors for Wills are back with an interesting topic of discussion: funeral costs.
A question that we are often asked is how your loved ones can be expected to cover your funeral costs whilst they wait for Probate to be granted. Whilst the costs of funerals have, on average, apparently decreased over the COVID-19 pandemic (according to Dignity), they can still be quite significant; to cover these out of your own pocket can be daunting.
Below, our expert will drafters have provided some helpful information about covering funeral costs from your loved one’s estate.
How are funeral costs paid before Probate is granted?
There are a few different options in respect of payment of funerals costs before Probate is granted, and not every solution may be a viable option for your loved one’s estate; find out what we mean by this, below.
Pre-paid funeral plan
In some cases, your loved one may have covered the costs of most of (or, in some cases, all of) their funeral with a pre-paid funeral plan. There are many different options available on the market, and, if this is something of interest to you, our best suggestion about how to arrange a funeral plan would be to shop around and find one that best suits you, both in terms of your wishes and the costs of the plan. Pre-paid funeral plans are not an area that we are able to advise our Will clients on so, if you would like further advice, we suggest you contact the plan providers and find out if they can assist.
If our Will client has a pre-paid funeral plan in place, one thing our local solicitors for Wills may suggest, is that they keep a copy of the details with their signed Will so it is readily available when they die. Alternatively, our Will writing clients may make their executors or loved ones aware of the plan that they have in place, so that when they die, their loved ones know who to contact.
Payment by a loved one
If you know that your deceased loved one has sufficient funds in their estate to cover the full costs of the funeral, you may wish to make payment of this yourself, on the basis that you will claim this back once the bank accounts have released funds, or once the deceased’s property has been sold. If you are financially able to pay for the funeral and not leave yourself short of money, this is your decision. However, our expert Will drafters would always advise our probate clients to bear in mind that you may not get the funds paid back immediately; it can take some time for an estate to be dealt with and for funds to be available to repay these costs.
Payment directly out of the deceased’s bank account
Most banks and building societies will make payment of any funeral costs directly to the funeral home, on receipt of an invoice. For example, NatWest offer this service and allow you to notify them and upload a copy of the invoice using an online portal. You can find out more about this here. Another organisation offering this service is National Savings and Insurance, which you can find out more about here. We are unable to confirm for you whether any particular bank or organisation offers this service, however, if you contact them, they should be able to confirm.
Speak to the funeral home
If there is genuinely no way of paying the funeral costs, you should speak to the funeral home before agreeing any arrangements. They may be willing to wait until funds are available in the estate to receive payment of their invoice. However, you should always confirm this before incurring any personal expense so as to avoid being charged interest or late payment fees if the funeral director’s payment terms cannot be met.
What if there are not enough funds to pay for the funeral?
If the deceased’s estate is small and there are not enough funds to even cover the funeral costs, your loved one could still have a funeral. Under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, local authorities have a duty to deal with the cremation or burial of the “body of any person who has died or been found dead in their area” in cases where there are no suitable arrangements made by anyone else.
This does not necessarily mean that the person died with no surviving family or loved ones, however, if there is any surviving family, they are unable to afford a funeral out of their loved one’s estate (as there is, in essence, no estate). The closest surviving relatives may be asked to write a statement to confirm that they are not prepared, or they are unable to pay for the funeral from their own funds.
These types of funerals are no-frills, and the deceased will not receive flowers or music or a full service, etc. However, they will be provided with a coffin and the services of a funeral director to help bear them to the crematorium or cemetery with dignity.
To find out about arranging a funeral for your loved one, contact your local council or the council in the area where your loved one died.
Alternatively, you may be able to apply for a Funeral Expenses Payment. Find out more about this online, here.
Can MG Legal, solicitors near me, help to arrange a funeral?
Unless your local solicitors are appointed as the executors of a Will of somebody with no surviving relatives, we would generally not deal with arranging a funeral on behalf of someone who has died.
Normally, even if we are appointed as the executors of the Will, the surviving family would deal with funeral arrangements, carrying out their loved one’s wishes in this respect. We would be able to arrange for payment of the funeral costs from the deceased’s bank account.
However, should you need any guidance about what you can and cannot pay for out of the estate of your loved one, contact us at your local office.
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