What is an estate’s and/or family’s responsibility for funeral expenses?

UPDATED: Aug 20, 2011

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What is an estate’s and/or family’s responsibility for funeral expenses?

When my dad died he requested the house be sold and his debts paid off and the rest split between the siblings. My brother is now requesting we share in the funeral expenses before the house is sold. Am I legally bound to share in the expenses since I gave up executorship to him? And can the funeral home place a lien on the house if the bill isn’t paid before the house is sold?

Asked on August 20, 2011 Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You personally are not obligated to share in the expenses of the funeral. However, the estate is responsible for the funeral debts, and the funeral expenses will be taken out of the estate prior to its distribution to you and your brother(s) or other siblings. That means that creditors of the estate, including the funeral home, are entitled to collect, and if not voluntarily paid, they may resort to legal process to ensure payment. This in turn means that potentially a lien could be put on the home before it is sold, which lien would have to be satisfied from the sale proceeds in order to convey clean title to the buyers.

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