Who is responsible for the final costs of my almost ex-husband?

A fellow caregiver asked...

I was in the process of getting a divorce my husband died. Am I responsible for his funeral?  I have no money to pay this.

Expert Answer

Steve Weisman hosts the nationally syndicated radio show A Touch of Grey, heard on more than 50 stations, including WABC in New York City and KRLA in Los Angeles. He is a practicing lawyer specializing in estate planning and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court. He's a public speaker and commentator who has appeared on many radio and television shows throughout the country, and he's the legal editor of Talkers magazine, the preeminent trade publication of talk radio. His latest book is The Truth About Avoiding Scams.

Married people are not responsible for the individual debts of their spouses unless they have taken on the debts themselves, like when you co-sign a loan. So, even though you were still married at the time of his death, you aren't responsible for your husband's funeral expenses.

If you make funeral arrangements for your husband, make sure that it is clear that you are acting as the representative of his estate and not individually. Don't put any of these expenses in your own name. Funeral debts are a debt of your husband's estate and should be paid before anything is distributed to his heirs. Whether your husband died with or without a Will, as his surviving spouse you will be in a position to inherit from your spouse after his final expenses -- including funeral costs -- and debts are paid.