The one(s) responsible for funeral payments depends on other circumstances. Payment is based on who has the ability to fund the funeral. The burden does not fall on one person each time. This can be seen as an “if not x, then y” form of responsibility appointment. Another way to visualize this is to think of this as a flow chart rather than one definitive answer.
The options explored, in order
The options here are only relevant if the deceased had not paid for his or her funeral in advance. While this is technically not legally required, it is still to be considered. The people responsible can be the executor of the estate, close family members, or a combination of family members and government assistance.
Scenario one – executor
Beyond a pre-paid funeral expense, the first payer in this order is the executor (or executors) of the individual’s estate. While there can be more than one executor, this particular entity will be referenced as a single person in the examples provided here. Just like other items on this list, this is based on if.
An executor is chosen by the deceased in his or her will. What makes this different from other potential payment candidates is that this is purely based on the deceased individual’s choice. How that money is dispersed is also unique. This money comes from an estate, not the executor’s personal bank account (at least not entirely).
An estate contributes to a person’s overall net worth, and a net worth consists of more than just income. In other words, all funeral costs can be covered by the total assigned value of one’s assets. Assets can include (but are not limited to) physical possessions, real estate, or financial investments. All of these are assigned a cash value, and that is just one way a funeral can be paid for.
Scenario two – next of kin
Not everyone has an executor, and not everyone has the luxury of an estate that could cover funeral costs. This leads to the next in line of the “if not x, then y” form of responsibility assignment – the next of kin.
Without an executor, then it’s up to the next of kin to pay. The next of kin is the closest living relative, usually the individual’s spouse or children. These are the ones who may have to pay funeral expenses out-of-pocket.
Scenario three – relatives can’t pay
This can actually be divided into two paths. One is seeking government assistance, and the other is signing a release to a coroner, who will make the decisions as to what will be done with the deceased individual’s body.
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