It will be no surprise to most readers that the invoice from the funeral directors can be settled legitimately from the deceased’s estate.Cash flow can be an issue in that the invoice will arrive long before probate has been granted and therefore before the assets can be encashed to settle outstanding liabilities.
Fortunately banks are aware of the problem and do release payment direct from the deceased’s bank account to the funeral directors on receipt of the original invoice.
But what of the wake?
By which I mean the gathering after the service where food and drink is often provided. Unlike the funeral itself the costs of the wake are not deductible automatically from the estate unless all beneficiaries agree to them.
Occasionally however, a dispute does arise.
In a recent case that we dealt with half the family laid on a lavish celebration for the life of their mother, with the total cost in excess of £10,000. The assumption was that once the money was available the family members responsible would be reimbursed.
However, other members of the family who were also beneficiaries were opposed to the wake; they had spoken to the deceased in the days before her death and she had made it clear to them that she did not want a fuss and a simple low-budget funeral would be sufficient. As a result the executors’ hands were tied.
Without agreement from the beneficiaries, they were not authorised to settle the invoices that were submitted for payment. Although the family members involved in the organisation were prepared to bear the cost, the argument has driven a large wedge between the deceased’s children that will not mend easily.
Specify your wishes in your Will
The best way to avoid this is to make your funeral wishes clear. Apart from discussing what you would like with your family it is always a good idea to leave a letter with your Will setting out your express requirements. If you feel that argument is still likely, you can provide express authority in your Will to your executors regarding what they can legitimately spend on the funeral, wake and any other costs relating to the disposal of your body, such as on the arrangements regarding the scattering of your ashes, or on the headstone and its engraving. This will prevent any argument and will mean that your executors have a free hand within the constraints of your will.