Can You Pay Funeral Expenses Out of the Estate

04 March 2020

Funeral expenses can usually be paid for from the deceased person's estate*, but you may have to wait until the probate process has been completed for funds to become available. This can take 9-12months or longer, depending on the complexity of the Estate.

This means you may need to cover the funeral costs yourself in the short term while Probate is ongoing. With our Probate Complete Service, we can cover the costs of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral for you, then we'll simply recoup these costs from the estate later on.

Help with Funeral Costs

When you instruct Co-op Legal Services to deal with Probate and the Estate administration on your behalf, we can:

  • Pay all the costs of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral*
  • Take full responsibility for obtaining Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, tax (excluding VAT), property and estate administration affairs*.

* Providing the estate owns sufficient assets which can be sold in due course to repay our costs. For more information see Probate Complete Service.

Paying for the Funeral

When someone dies, their friends or family may need to find the money to pay the funeral costs.

This can pose a significant problem at an already difficult time, as funerals often cost thousands of pounds. In fact, according to Co-op Funeralcare, the average cost of a funeral in 2019 was £3,986, including third party costs.

Often people don’t know just how much a funeral costs, and that can put relatives and friends in a difficult position. Everyone wants to give their loved one the best possible send off, but who is going to pay for the funeral?

The first thing to check is whether or not the deceased person had a pre-paid funeral plan. If so, it’s possible that the cost of the funeral is already covered. Alternatively there might be a life insurance policy or pension scheme that will contribute towards funeral expenses.

If not, the person who organises the funeral will be responsible for meeting the costs. If there’s a Will this may be the Executors, and if not it’s likely to be the deceased person’s closest relatives.

Paying Funeral Costs from the Estate

The person who pays for the funeral may be able to claim the funeral costs back from the Estate. However, the speed at which this happens depends on the circumstances.

If the deceased's bank account was held in their sole name, it will be frozen as soon as the bank is notified of the death. The bank will not generally release any money from the account until Probate is granted, although they are normally happy to settle the funeral account directly with the funeral directors.

A grant of probate may be needed before the executors or administrators can access the deceased person's bank accounts for any other reason. This is a legal document that grants a named person legal authority to wind up the deceased person's affairs. This document is called a grant of letters of administration if the deceased didn't leave a will.

Once the grant of probate (or grant of letters of administration) has been issued, the executors or administrators can begin administrating the estate. This involves a number of tasks and responsibilities, one of which is paying off the estate debts, including any inheritance tax or income tax that is due.

The debts must be paid in an order of priority. Secured debts, such as an outstanding mortgage, should be paid first. After these have been paid, the funeral expenses can be paid.

Therefore whoever has paid for the funeral will have to wait until probate has been obtained and the estate administration process is nearly complete before they can reclaim the costs. Estate administration takes an average of nine to twelve months, but this can be longer for more complicated estates.

This is a long time to wait if you've paid for the funeral out of your own pocket, and it may be that you are unable to cope with this financial commitment.

How We Can Help You

We do understand how stressful the thought of paying for a funeral can be. This is why we're supporting our customers by covering the cost of a Co-op Funeralcare funeral when you instruct Co-op Legal Services to carry out probate.

The estate must own sufficient financial assets which can be sold in due course to repay our costs. The costs will come directly from the Estate, so you don't need to worry about finding the money in the meantime.

Our probate solicitors and case managers can take the whole probate process off your shoulders. With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for obtaining grant of probate and dealing with the legal, tax (inheritance tax, income tax, capital gains tax but not VAT), property and estate administration affairs.

Once we have provided you with a written quote for the agreed work to be done, that price will not change unless the original information we are given is shown to be incorrect or circumstances change.

Probate is not always required, see Probate for Small Estates.

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