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responsible for funeral costs

When coping with the loss of a loved one, it can be challenging and overwhelming to face the many financial responsibilities associated with funeral costs. On average, Florida funerals cost about $6,500 – but who’s legally responsible for covering these costs? The answer to this is not always straightforward and many factors and circumstances will play a key role. In this guide, we’ll talk about who is responsible for funeral costs and what this means for the surviving family members. 

Costs Covered by the Estate

An estate administrator is the appointed legal representative of the deceased. The legal representative may be a surviving spouse, other family members, the executor named in the will, or an attorney. In general, the estate administrator is responsible for collecting all assets of the deceased, also known as their estate. This includes savings accounts, property, and any personal belongings or assets.

In many cases, funeral costs are covered by the estate. It is the executor’s responsibility to settle the estate which includes covering funeral costs. These costs are accounted for prior to settling any debts the deceased owed at the time of passing.

Costs Covered by Family Members or Next of Kin

No family members or individuals can be legally forced to pay for a funeral. However, if there are not enough or no funds at all in the deceased estate, a surviving family member or anyone who is willing – can cover the funeral costs. This individual would sign a contract with a funeral home and then be responsible for any costs related to the funeral service.

It’s important to note that often times it can take months or even years to settle an estate and if the family wishes to hold a funeral service they may do so out of pocket before the estate goes to probate court. In this case, the individual who bore the costs can file a claim with probate to receive a reimbursement from the estate. However, if there are not enough or no funds in the state, the individual will not be reimbursed.

If there are no funds in the estate and no one is willing to cover funeral costs the body can be turned over to the care of the county. The county will likely arrange a disposition through cremation and select a mass grave where the remains can be buried. In some states, the body may be donated to science. In either case, at this point family members will not be entitled to receive the ashes or have a say in the matter. 

Costs Covered by a Life Insurance Policy

A deceased life insurance policy is not considered to be part of the estate if it has a named beneficiary. Any proceeds from the policy will be given to the beneficiary who is not legally  obligated to cover funeral costs. If no beneficiary is named on the life insurance policy, the proceeds will then go to the estate and be used to pay for the funeral service.

Families and loved ones who wish to hold a funeral service for the deceased but cannot afford to cover the rising costs are not left alone. Various assistance programs are available for those who qualify. This includes private charities, and local programs that can render aid in times of crisis. Here at Cremations of Greater Tampa Bay, we’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to answer any questions you may have and guide you through this difficult time. 

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Florida law states “A cremation may not be performed until a legally authorized person gives written authorization for such cremation,” (FS 497.607).  Furthermore, the law defines whom the “legally authorized person” is and sets up the order of priority of next of kin. We require a written authorization before scheduling any cremation or funeral services. The “Authorization for Cremation and Disposition” form must be signed by the next of kin in the following order: spouse, son or daughter (of legal age), parent, brother or sister, grandchild, grandparent.

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