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Who is Legally in Charge of Your Funeral? August 31, 2019

When someone dies, there are many sudden financial responsibilities left to handle on their behalf. Almost every state has a list to describe who has the legal right to control your funeral arrangements. (1. A friend designated in a document. – 2. Spouse. – 3. – All adult children. – 4. Instructions in a valid will). Most people are surprised to hear that a friend designated in a document is number one on this list over the will. One of the main reasons is, that the will might be the last thing people look at, in most cases this happens after the funeral has already taken place.

The expectation is that all final expenses, including the cost of the funeral, burial or cremation are paid by the family or be paid out from the deceased personal estate, but what happens when the deceased person left no assets or property to cover the costs of their own funeral?  The person who signs the contract with the funeral home is legally obliged to pay the bill. Therefore, it is very important that the deceased appoints a designated person, this is form that should be available at most funeral homes and cemeteries. The designated person becomes responsible to ensure the funeral is planned, and that the final expenses are paid for, arranges the services and is asked to sign a promissory note to the funeral home and/or cemetery.

It’s prudent for this person to ensure that he/she has the resources to cover all the expenses, or that he/she will be reimbursed for the costs before signing for the funeral service. This guarantees that the due bill will be paid. Over time many morgues have adopted this policy; however, it is not mandated by law. If you and the deceased’s relatives are all on low incomes and can’t afford to pay the cost of a funeral, then the government have what is known as “The Social Fund”, which can provide some money to go towards the costs. However, there are many qualifying criteria that must be met. You should conduct some research on this topic in accordance with the state you live in.