Is a child responsible for the cost of a funeral when the spouse/executor refuses to pay?

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Is a child responsible for the cost of a funeral when the spouse/executor refuses to pay?

My nephew is working to get his stepfather to pay for his mother’s funeral. My sister lived with my nephew at the time of her death, after her alcoholic husband in Ohio told the family to ‘come and get her.’ Her husband was at the visitation and funeral and did visit her several times in Illinois. My sister had secured funds to pay for her funeral in Illinois, which she had planned, but her husband managed to convince the bank that, as her power of property, he needed money to pay bills. So he took part of that money which left her with not enough to prepay her funeral. She passed away in August and, at this point, her husband is not responding to requests for payment from the funeral home. The funeral home has contacted me the owner is a family friend and keeps contacting my nephew, asking for payment. Can’t the funeral home put a lien against the state? My sister’s husband is the executor. thanks for any advice.

Asked on November 28, 2018 under Estate Planning, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

A child is not responsible for their deceased parent's debts, unless they specifically agree to be (e.g. you signed a contract with the funeral regarding burial expenses,etc.). Accordingly, if the funeral home wants to be paid, it will need to file a claim with the estate. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Yes, the funeral home should put a claim against the estate. A person is not responsible for any debts or costs he or she did not agree to pay, and being the deceased's child does not, by itself, make you responsible for the funeral or other final costs. Unless your nephew agreed to pay this (e.g. signed the contract with the funeral home) he is not liable for it.


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