If a sibling dies with no spouse, is it the legal responsibility of the remaining siblings to pay for his burial?

A fellow caregiver asked...

if a sibling dies with no spouse is it the legal responsibility of the remaining siblings to pay for his burial

Expert Answer

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.

Siblings are not usually legally responsible for paying for another sibling's burial, although one or more of them may be asked to cover the bill, at least temporarily.

If no other provision has been made, the deceased person's estate "”that is, all money and property he or she owned at death "” will usually be sold or liquidated to cover burial costs and other debts.

However, funeral home representatives will often ask the nearest surviving relatives, which may include siblings, to pay the costs to a funeral home before or soon after goods and services are provided; then those costs are reimbursed to them from the estate.

However, if the deceased sibling's estate is not large enough to cover the amount of the funeral costs, then there may be other sources to look to for help, such as Social Security, insurance, Veterans Administration payments, or union funeral benefits.

If none of these are available and if the siblings are unable or unwilling to pay the funeral costs, it may be best to contact the clerk at the county courthouse. Most locales have laws that ensure that help pay the final expenses for residents in need.