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Funeral Costs & Last Expenses

Paying for the Last Expenses

Planning the funeral of a loved one can be very stressful. When a person dies, there will be a question as to how and when their funeral and last expenses are to be paid. Even if there is a will, unless the decedent is survived by their spouse or they had a joint bank account with another person, there may be no funds in the estate to pay for the funeral and other expenses because of probate.

Who is responsible for these costs in this situation? Do they have to be beneficiaries or a closest relative? Is the person who paid the expenses entitled to reimbursement? If so, what expenses qualify for reimbursement? Texas law provides answers to these questions.

Funeral Claims Against the Decedent’s Estate

Who is liable for the decedent’s last expenses? The short answer is the estate is liable. A surviving spouse or another person who pays for the funeral costs is entitled to a priority claim against the decedent’s estate. This priority extends to $15,000 of funeral costs.

If there are sufficient assets in the estate, the state may choose to reimburse funeral and last expenses in an amount that is more than $15,000. But the estate will not be able to pay amounts in excess of $15,000 if the estate assets are fully used up in paying other priority expenses or, in some cases, if the personal representative opts not to pay them.

While Texas law says that the decedent’s estate is liable to pay for most of the decedent’s funeral costs, the funeral home or provider may include language in their contract to make the surviving spouse or other parties personally liable for these costs. The person signing these agreements has to read the agreements very carefully to understand exactly who is liable and for what.

What are Funeral Costs?

The term “funeral costs” is broadly construed. It can include the traditional costs for preparation and transport and burial of the decedent’s body. It can also include the cost of conducting memorial or burial services, meals and other incidental expenses incurred for the memorial service for family and friends, the costs for travel and meals for the person in charge of making the funeral arrangements, and cremation costs.

Can Funeral Expenses Be Paid Before Probate?

If the surviving spouse or other family member is not able to pay for the funeral costs upfront, Texas Estates Code § 152.001 et seq. allows the interested person to file an emergency application to get funds from the decedent’s estate to pay these expenses before the probate process. This amount includes attorney’s fees, court costs, and up to $5,000 of funeral and burial expenses. The applicant has to meet the same requirements to serve as personal representative in probate for this application.

The emergency application has to include

  • The name, address, and interest of the applicant.
  • The facts showing an immediate necessity for the issuance of an emergency intervention order by the court.
  • The date and place of the decedent’s death, the decedent’s residential address, and the name and address of the funeral home holding the decedent’s remains.
  • The names of any known or ascertainable heirs and devisees of the decedent and the reason they either cannot be contacted or have refused to assist in the decedent’s burial.
  • A description of the funeral and burial procedures necessary, including a statement from the funeral home that contains a detailed and itemized description of the cost of such procedures.
  • The name and address of any individual, entity, or financial institution, including an employer, that is in possession of any funds belonging to or due to the decedent, with account numbers and balances, if known.
  • Whether there are any written instructions from the decedent relating to the funeral or burial.
  • If written instructions from the decedent concerning the funeral or burial exist, the applicant must attach them to the application.

The application has to be filed in probate court in the county of the decedent’s domicile (or the county in which the real property is located if the decedent was not a resident of Texas). The application should be filed between the third and 90th day after the decedent’s death.

If the court determines that emergency intervention is necessary, it may order funds of the decedent held by an employer, individual, or financial institution to be paid directly to a funeral home for funeral and burial expenses.

On the applicant’s request, the court clerk may issue certified copies of an emergency intervention order until the 90th day after the order was issued, or until a personal representative is qualified, whichever comes first. A person who receives a certified copy of an emergency intervention order within that time frame is not personally liable for actions taken in accordance with and reliance on the order. All of the applicant’s powers and authority under the order expire 90 days after it is issued, or when a personal representative is qualified, whichever comes first.

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Related Questions

What are some costs of death and burial?

How much does a funeral cost? What will it cost to bury somebody? These are questions that are asked every day by people who have lost a loved one. Many people who ask are surprised to learn that the costs of funeral can vary greatly, not only between locations, but from one person to another. For example, you might be surprised to learn that the costs of funeral and burial can vary from $6,000 to $60,000 or more. Before you go into shock, keep in mind that this is an average and there are many factors which will affect the price of funeral.

When someone dies can you use their bank account for funeral expenses?

The administrator of an estate is the person responsible for managing the deceased person’s assets and liabilities. In most cases, this will be the executor of the will, if there is one. If there is no will, then the court will appoint an administrator. Once the administrator has been appointed, they will have to notify creditors of the death and take steps to settle any debts that are owed. They will also be responsible for distributing the deceased person’s assets in accordance with their wishes, as expressed in their will or estate plan.

If you are named as the executor of a loved one’s estate, it is important to understand your responsibilities. You may need to hire a lawyer or accountant to help you with some of the tasks involved in settling an estate. And, you should be prepared for some emotional stress as well, as dealing with grieving family members and handling all of the details can be overwhelming.

When someone dies, their bank account does not automatically become accessible to pay for funeral expenses. The administrator of the estate must request permission from the court before using any funds from the deceased person’s accounts. This is done by filing a petition with the court and providing documentation showing that funeral expenses need to be paid and that there are insufficient funds available in other accounts to cover these costs. If permission is granted, the administrator can then access the funds needed to pay for funeral expenses

What happens if you refuse to pay for a funeral?

Many people are unhappy about the amount of money they were asked to pay for their loved one’s funeral.

So, if you were recently asked to pay a large sum for your loved one’s funeral, how can you deal with this situation? Should you just pay the funeral home because you don’t know what else to do?

Absolutely Not!

Make sure that you seek legal help straight away. The prices for funerals in the United States are very high, and there’s nothing wrong with asking questions about why you are required to pay such a high price.

Most funeral homes are honest businesses that charge fair prices for their services. However, there are a few bad apples out there who will try to take advantage of grieving families. If you feel like you’ve been asked to pay too much for a funeral, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and ask questions.

The first step is to find out exactly what services the funeral home is providing and what the cost breakdown is. Once you have this information, you can start negotiating with the funeral home. Don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price or even shop around at different funeral homes.

It’s also important to remember that you don’t have to go through with the funeral if you can’t afford it. There are other options available, such as cremation or burial at sea. Talk to the funeral home about your options and see if they’re willing to work with you on price.

What bills can be paid from an estate account?

Very often, a beneficiary of an estate wants to know if they can obtain money from the estate’s bank account – what is known as “estate funds”.

The simple answer is that an estate account can be used to pay any debts and expenses of the estate. This would include typical household bills, funeral expenses, and any other debts or expenses incurred by the estate.

In some cases, there may be restrictions on how the funds in an estate account can be used. For example, if the estate is being used to settle a dispute between beneficiaries, the court may order that the funds only be used for specific purposes.

Is a spouse responsible for funeral expenses?

In general, a spouse is not responsible for the funeral expenses of their deceased partner. However, there are some circumstances in which a court may order one spouse to pay these expenses. For example, if the couple was married but living apart at the time of death, the spouse who was living with the deceased may be responsible for paying for the funeral. Additionally, if one spouse dies without leaving a will, the surviving spouse may be required to pay for the funeral per state intestacy laws.

While it is typically not required that a spouse pay for their partner’s funeral expenses, there may be some instances in which a court orders them to do so. If you are unsure about whether or not you are liable for these costs, it is best to speak with an attorney who can review your specific situation and advise you on your options.

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