Who Should Pay for the Funeral?
No one can deny that funerals are expensive. When you factor in everything from the burial and gravesite to the memorial service itself, you could be looking at a total cost of anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000.
So who pays for the funeral? Whether there is a large family, no family, or even just a handful of friends left behind, which person is responsible for covering the funeral costs?
- The Deceased: Ideally, the deceased will pay for their own funeral. This is done either by pre-planning the funeral and paying for all packages and services ahead of time, or by making provisions in a will or burial insurance policy. Not only does this streamline the funeral process after death happens, but it insures that no one person bears the full weight of the costs.
- Spouse/Parent/Adult Children: Most of the time, the person primarily responsible for funeral costs is the next of kin. This is almost always the spouse of the deceased or the parent of the deceased. These are the ones who are usually named as the beneficiary of a life insurance policy or who are responsible for the deceased’s estate after death occurs. For older people, adult children or grandchildren are often named next of kin.
- Executor of the Estate: The executor of the estate is the individual who has access to all the deceased’s finances and personal effects. This is usually the spouse/parent/adult children, but does not have to be. Because this person is responsible for settling all debts and selling off all assets, they are equally responsible for funeral costs. When there are multiple adult children or siblings, the one who is named executor of the estate generally takes the lead in all decision-making and finances.
- Generous Relatives/Community: Sometimes it is not possible for one person to pay for all of the costs of a funeral. In these instances, you may reach out to friends, relatives, community groups, and crowd-funding sources to help defray the costs. While this can help ease the burden of funeral costs, it does make planning more difficult, since your expenditures may come into question.
- County/Government: If no one in the family is able to pay for the funeral, it becomes the responsibility of the local coroner’s office. You have to prove your inability to pay and sign over all rights and responsibilities, which means you get no say in how your relative’s remains are handled. Usually remains are cremated, and you can request to have the ashes returned to you, but it might come with a fee.