Who is Responsible for Making Funeral Plans?

December 9, 2023

After losing a loved one, one of the first tasks to undertake is arranging the funeral. This is usually the responsibility of the deceased’s next of kin, even if they are not the executor to the estate. There are a few exceptions to this though, so let’s have a look at this in further detail.

If an older person dies and doesn’t leave a spouse, the responsibility would fall on their son or daughter (if they were named as their executor). However, if the executor is not the deceased’s closest relative, then the executor may not be the best person to make the funeral arrangements. 

Who Can Make The Funeral Arrangements?

The deceased’s executor is the main person who has the authority to make funeral arrangements, but in some cases, it may be better that someone closer to the deceased (like one of their family members) is better placed to deal with the funeral. It may be that the executor is a solicitor, so in this instance, they don’t know the deceased well enough to carry out their final wishes.

If the deceased has not left a Will, the funeral arrangements are usually carried out by the estate administrator. This tends to be their next of kin, who is appointed to manage their estate as well. A person who dies without leaving a Will is called an intestate person, and only married or civil partners and other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy. It is usually one of these individuals who then put themselves forward to be the administrator.

When dealing with funeral arrangements, communication is essential to ensure everyone knows what they are responsible for. It allows time for the deceased’s family to have their say, and express their wishes for their loved one. Emotions are bound to be running high, so if people feel excluded from the funeral arrangements this can cause family disputes.

Who Pays For A Funeral?

Funeral costs are usually paid from the deceased’s estate, but it is often the case that the expenses are paid upfront before the estate funds are released. The funeral home, caterers, venues, florists etc. will all require payment upon booking them, so whoever is in charge of making these arrangements will have to pay the initial costs. All receipts should be kept in a safe place so that when the estate funds are released, they can be claimed back.

If the executor is unable to make these initial payments, either the executor or the administrator can ask the deceased’s bank to pay the funeral director (as long as there are sufficient funds in the bank account). Some people will have a pre-paid funeral plan in place, which will cover some (but not all) of the initial costs.

Funeral Wishes

It is also important to check whether the deceased has left any funeral wishes in their Will. This can be incredibly helpful for loved ones, as they can make the funeral arrangements knowing they are exactly what the deceased wanted. Funeral wishes aren’t legally binding though, so the executor doesn’t have to follow the directions exactly. For example, if finances are tight and the estate money has not been released, it may be that some of the funeral wishes have to be swapped out.