Will I as executor pay for funeral and burial expenses for my father?

5 answers | Last updated: Nov 21, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

Will I as executor pay for funeral, burial expenses and outstanding debt for my father after he passes away? My father lives in Georgia and is not well. Funeral arraingments have been discussed and clarified. As the executor of the estate, will I be forced to use any life insurance (left to me as benificiary) to pay final expenses, burial expenses, and any outstanding dept? He currently has no assets, but does have some debt.

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

Possibly two different questions here, with possibly two different answers.

When a person dies, all of his or her creditors are notified -- and the outstanding debts are ranked in a hierarchy set out in state law and paid off from remaining estate property. And that happens before beneficiaries are entitled to take any property they may be left in a will. So if your father leaves you that life insurance in a will provision, there's a chance it may be taken to pay remaining debts. However, it is more common for life insurance proceeds to pass automatically to a beneficiary at death under what is called a "pay on death" provision. So be sure to check the wording of the policy; it may not pass by will at all. And if it does not, creditors will not likely be able to reach it.

As for paying burial expenses, many locales do have laws providing that children must pay the burial expenses of their parents "if they are willing and able" and their parents qualify as indigent, but the children do not.

Fortunately, all states -- and many counties and municipalities -- run programs that offer financial benefits for funerals, burials, and cremation to families with low incomes.

Unfortunately, there is no good central resource that tracks all of them -- and what is available varies widely, depending on where you live. If your father was receiving some type of public assistance during her lifetime, contact that agency first. Otherwise, the best way to find out about the specific benefits offered in a particular locale is to do an Internet search of the state plus the county plus the words "burial assistance."

To secure any of the benefits, you would have to fill out a brief application that the state or county agency will provide, usually including a brief listing of available cash, property, and other resources.

Community Answers

Oldham answered...

You will be required to pay for the funeral expenses for your father if you accept the responsibility by instructing the funeral home on all details, arranging, and signing the contract. The funeral home's operational procedures for payment will dictate how quick the payment is made. It doesn't sound like an estate that your describing; it's more less managing his debt. Secure the guidance of a lawyer thats a friend for direct advice and contact a local funeral director that you know to pre-plan your expenses for the funeral arrangement. If you are the beneficiary of insurance, you may choose to use as security for concluding payment of the funeral which is to come. Prepare yourself and good luck.

Bradleau answered...

Money from life insurance goes to the person named to receive it. As for other items of value,you may consider an estate sale or yard sale to help cover his debts. You can cremate for under $1000 in most places. Or arrange to donate his remains to a medical school. You have to arrange all of this, with his consent, prior to death. They will then cremate after a year and return his cremanes(sp) to you. A person may want a certain type of service and burial but unless they have a policy to cover this cost, or have prepaid this event you can chose what expense you want handle. Talk about problems! My neighbor had her husband die,her house burn down,her brother in law, and her father in law die all within the past year. Her other brother in law is "stuck" with the expense of the cremations and service, as well as what to do with a house that has taxes owed on it. Now that is a problem.

Solveig answered...

I can't help to feel that whatever the dying person leaves, whether a life insurance or a home, is really THAT person's property and the inheritor should feel lucky that a few sheckles were left in order to bury a parent..... Sorry if this sounds unkind, but my goodness, unwilling to spend a few bucks to bury a parent sounds pretty sad to me.

The one answered...

agree my father passed away recently, and my half brother who had full responsibilty for his money matters, who also had arranged his funeral months in had, as our father had brain tumour and we knew he had only months, but 4 days before our father died, my half brother cancelled his funeral and chose to book a holiday, then the day our father died, he went on holiday and left all funeral arrangements and costs to me, he even withdrew the last £250.00 from his account after he had died, even though he only had what the bank state 3rd party man date, but what disgusts me most he received a letter off his father with numerous witnesses of his dying wishes to be done out of the money our father had handed to him to pay for his funeral,

any suggestions to what to do, my solicitor says i mave a concrete case in a court, but i'm more like taking him through a small claims court, that would bugger him for years, black listed etc,