Funeral expenses are the first priority of payment by the deceased person’s assets – even before debts and gifts are paid out. They come out of the assets whether or not the deceased estate is bankrupt or not (see s 34 (3) Administration and Probate Act 1935 (Tas) and Schedule II, Part 1 s. 1). Often you will find that the will provides for payment of funeral expenses anyway.
Otherwise funeral expenses are often paid for by family, or by funeral insurance if the deceased person had funeral insurance.
If the funeral has been paid for by the family or by the executor personally then they have the right to claim back the cost from the estate. However, this may be difficult if there are not enough assets in the estate to cover the funeral costs or if the executor considers that the funeral expenses were not reasonable and refuses to pay out the cost.
Whoever makes the arrangements with the funeral home is going to be responsible for paying the funeral home, because the contract for the funeral is between them personally and the funeral home. So if they make the contract but don’t pay then the funeral home can sue them for the money.
So it is a very good idea to make sure you have the funds from others if there are a number of people contributing before you sign up the contract. Also, it is a good idea to make sure that the estate has enough assets in it to pay for the funeral for the same reason.
Most financial institutions will pay the funeral expenses from the deceased’s account if proof of the expense is shown.
Tasmania has a funeral assistance package called the ‘Essential Care Funeral’. Information on this can be found on the Magistrates Court website.
Burial and cremation
It is important to check a will before proceeding with funeral plans to ensure that the wishes of the deceased are followed in the way their body is to be treated. Sometimes a will sets out exactly how the deceased would like to be laid to rest. If a will is not discovered or read before the funeral it is possible that the funeral arrangements may have been contrary to the express wishes of the deceased.