Funerals can be expensive! The average cost of a funeral in 2015 was $6,500.00, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. The ever-increasing cost leaves many families wondering: Who is responsible for paying funeral expenses? The answer can vary. For example, the decedent may have already paid for her own funeral by funding a prepaid burial trust during life or by purchasing life insurance. Alternatively, if decedent did not prepay, then the cost associated with the funeral will be the responsibility of family or the estate.
Prepaid burial trusts
Many people choose to prepay the costs of their own funeral while they are alive. For many, creating a prepaid burial trust can be a powerful medical assistance planning tool. The funds put into a prepaid burial trust may also be exempt from Medical Assistance recovery. Minnesota Statutes dictate that the funds put into a prepaid burial trust must “be distributed for the payment of the at-need funeral goods, funeral services, burial site goods, or burial site services selected, with any excess funds distributed to the beneficiary’s estate.” Minnesota Statutes, section 149A.97, subdivision 3a, clauses (9) and (10).
There are also life insurance policies designed to pay for funeral expenses. Life insurance policies are available for people of all ages, including children. In addition to the death benefits, many whole life policies offer valuable tax planning benefits.
Family may cover funeral the costs upfront
In the event that interest is charged to unpaid funeral bills, it is advisable for friend or family of the decedent to cover the expense upfront, provided they are financially able. Such a person may include the personal representative of the decedent’s estate or trustee of the decedent’s trust. The payer can then be reimbursed from the decedent’s estate when it is administered later. Before volunteering to pay such a bill, however, ensure that the estate has the funds to be reimburse you.
The Estate Pays
Finally, funeral expenses may be paid from the decedent’s estate itself. Reasonable funeral expenses are given priority status over other creditors of the estate, including medical and credit card bills (See Minnesota Statutes, section 524.3-805). Some funeral homes may also be willing to withhold interest on the bill until such time as the estate can pay.