Am I legally obligated to pay for a funeral my sibling planned but can't pay for?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 16, 2016
Shiela asked...

Our sibling (unemployed) took over all funeral plans for our mother. In spite of our attempts to help and the questions we raised about our financial concerns, he planned a hideously inappropriate and expensive funeral. Now we are stuck with the bill. Are we legally obligated to pay for the entire thing, especially some of the more outrageous charges (over $1000 in obituaries placed in papers that make no sense, thousands in floral arrangements, a $7000 casket (??!!), and several limousines we don't need)?

Expert Answers

Rebekah Peoples, CFSP, CPC, Is a licensed funeral director and embalmer. She is passionate about serving others and believes that giving clients honest, accurate information empowers them to create tributes and services that are meaningful and appropriate. Her tips about funerals and life can be found at

It's a little unclear from your question whether the services have already taken place. The person who signed the billing statement is responsible for its payment. The funeral home is required by law to fill out an itemization of the merchandise and services that are chosen and their prices. The person who is responsible for these selections and their payment is then required to sign it and the funeral director is required to give a copy to that person.

If the services have not already taken place, call the funeral director as soon as possible and express your concern over your sibling's ability to pay if he signed the agreement. The funeral director will then talk to your sibling about changing some of the arrangements. If he was not the one who signed it, whoever did sign should call to change the arrangements to fit what he/she can pay.

You may also want to check on any resources your mother left that can be used toward payment.