Where a person passes away with a valid Will appointing an Executor, the Executor will typically make the funeral and burial arrangements.
A Will often contains the wishes of the Deceased regarding their intended funeral arrangements. Occasionally, people who may not be the Executor (eg. family members) incur costs associated with the burial of a Deceased.
Generally, a person who has spent money for a burial (or cremation) has a claim against the estate for their reasonable costs.
What exactly is “reasonable” will depend on the circumstances including the amount incurred, the Deceased’s views and religious beliefs as well as the overall size of the estate.
In a recent Court decision, the issue was whether the son of the Deceased should recover the full amount of the funeral which the son had arranged. The total cost of the funeral was just under $25,000.00 comprising of the funeral, catering for the funeral, the burial plot and a very extravagant and “ornate headstone with a candilli in which candles and other religious items could be displayed”.
The estate was valued at approximately $160,000.00 so the funeral costs represented a large proportion of the estate.
The Deceased’s second wife (who was in fact the administrator of the estate but did not arrange the funeral) opposed the extravagant nature of the cost and favoured an amount of $6,000.00 – $8,000.00.
The Court ultimately ordered the son be reimbursed for the full cost taking into account the particular circumstances of the Deceased.
Anyone making funeral arrangements (whether Executor or not) should act reasonably taking into account the wishes of the Deceased, their religious and cultural considerations as well as the wishes of the Deceased’s family.
There is certainly no automatic right of recovery against the estate – only what is reasonable.