How do I pay funeral expenses from the deceased’s estate?

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    A person’s ‘estate’ is the combined value of their money, property and possessions.

    Firstly, it is advisable to check the will or, if there is no will, any other personal documents belonging to the deceased in order to find out whether any special funeral arrangements have been made. The deceased may have reserved a plot in a cemetery or taken out an insurance policy to cover funeral expenses. Alternatively, they may have put a pre-paid funeral plan in place which will cover some or all of the funeral costs.

    If no such arrangements were made by the deceased, you might have to cover the costs of the funeral in the short term, while Probate is being carried out. One option is to club together with close friends and family members to split the bill. The average cost of a funeral is £4,417. Burials cost slightly more than cremations. You would also need to take into account send-off costs, such as limousine and venue hire, flowers and catering.

    The Probate process normally lasts for 3-4 months but it can sometimes take longer. Once Probate has been granted, or Letters of Administration have been issued, you will be able to claim reimbursement for funeral expenses from the deceased’s estate. Make sure that you have kept all your receipts. The funeral bill has the highest priority of all debts, except for secured loans, e.g. the deceased’s mortgage.

    It may be possible to ask the deceased’s bank to release funds to pay for the funeral while Probate is ongoing. The personal representative (the person declared responsible by the will or by law for dealing with the estate) should contact the bank to request this. In order for funds to be made available, the bank will need to see the deceased’s death certificate and itemised accounts from the funeral director and other contractors showing their fees.

    If you are in the position of having to fund the funeral yourself, you may need to consider taking out a loan, or you could be eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment (also called a Funeral Payment). You can apply for one of these if you get certain benefits or tax credits, for example Income Support or Universal Credit. The payment can only be made available to you if you are the partner or a close relative of the deceased. The amount of the payment will then be deducted from the money you get from the deceased’s estate. For more information, visit www.gov.uk/funeral-payments.

    Some Funeral Directors may also defer payment of the Bill a few months to allow for Probate. You should ask if this option is available.

    Our probate solicitors can help you to apply for a Grant of Probate and deal with the winding-up of the estate to include reimbursement of funeral costs. If you would like to find out more, contact us today on 0800 092 1534.

    For general support and advice on coping with a loss, call the Bereavement Service Helpline on 0800 731 0469.

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