Are children liable for the funeral costs of their deceased parent?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Are children liable for the funeral costs of their deceased parent?

My sister in-law died 4 months ago, my brother went to funeral home for the burial procedures. They buried her. The next month my brother died but without paying for the funeral costs of his wife. The funeral home has told their three children that they are responsible for the costs of their mother even though they “never” signed anything. A few people have told us that they didn’t think the kids were liable to pay the bill. The problem the kids are having is that the funeral home is not releasing the deed to the cemetary plot. They’re not returning any phone calls and basically holding the deed hostage for payment. The kids want to put a tombstone on the grave, but can’t without the deed. What are their rights? Do they need an attorney?

Asked on May 21, 2015 under Estate Planning, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) No, adult children are *not* responsible for the cost of the funeral unelss they agreed to pay it (e.g. told the funeral home to go ahead with the burial, which would create an oral agreement; or signed an actual written agreement).

2) The funeral home wold not have to give them the deed to the polt, however, until and unless the expense of the burial is paid--otherwise, the children would be getting something for nothing, and the law does not require the funeral home (or anyone, as a general matter) to give someone else valuable services and/or property without payment.

The easiest and most economical way to resolve this is to either pay what the funeral home is demanding or, if the children feel the cost is out of line with the reasonable costs for the burial (which they should verify by researching what other funeral homes in the area charge), they can perhaps negotiate to a mutually agreeable amount to settle the matter.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption