Who pays for funeral expenses?
Who pays for the funeral where there is a Will?
When the deceased person has money or assets but no Will, who pays for the
Other places which might be able to assist with costs
What happens if nobody can afford to pay for a funeral?
Usually the person who organises the funeral will be held accountable for the costs
involved. Therefore it is important to ensure you have the necessary money to pay for
a funeral before you agree to organise one. However, there are some ways in which a
person can receive money to assist them to meet the costs of a funeral.
Who Pays For the Funeral Where There Is A Will?
If the deceased person had a will and appointed an executor, it is the executor's
responsibility to arrange and pay for the funeral and other testamentary expenses.
Where there is an estate (any assets of the deceased, including any money, are called
the 'estate'), the funeral and other expenses may be paid from the deceased's estate.
Where the deceased had money in a bank account, the bank may allow cash to be
withdrawn from the estate to pay for the deceased's funeral expenses before formal
administration (probate) is obtained from the Supreme Court of NSW.
When the Deceased Person Has Money Or Assets But No Will, Who Pays For
The estate of the deceased (that is, the money they leave behind) may be used to pay
for the funeral. If the deceased had no will, their estate will have to be sorted out
before their money becomes available to pay funeral costs. This can take a long time,
especially if there is disagreement over what assets belonged to the deceased or about
who should inherit the deceased's assets. A person who pays for a funeral does not
always get their money back from the estate. If you are in the situation where you
need to arrange a funeral for someone with no will, talk to a lawyer first unless you
are prepared to pay for the funeral from your own money and risk not getting repaid
from the estate.
If the deceased person was a victim of homicide in NSW, an interim award may be
made by the Victims Compensation Tribunal to cover the funeral costs. Contact
Victims Services on (02) 9374 3111. or click here for their website
If the deceased person was a war veteran or if he or she was the dependant of a
person killed during service, the Department of Veterans Affairs may be able to pay
some of the funeral costs in certain circumstances. Contact the Department of
Veterans Affairs on 133 254.
There is a bereavement payment available from Centrelink. The recipient of this
payment can be the spouse of the deceased or a close friend or relative who looked
after the deceased. Eligibility depends on prior receipt of Centrelink benefits, by
either the deceased or the claimant and payment may be either a lump sum or
fortnightly instalments depending on the circumstances. Contact Centrelink on 13 10
Other Places Which Might Be Able To Assist With Costs:
The deceased's employer or union may have a scheme to assist families of
deceased workers especially those who die from a work related illness.
The deceased's insurer, if they have one, and they died of an injury to which
their insurance is related or if they had death and disability insurance.
What Happens If Nobody Can Afford To Pay For A Funeral
If you can't afford to pay for a funeral, don't organise it. If you organise the funeral
you will have to pay. The police can organise a funeral for someone who has no-one
to pay for their funeral. It will be a very simple and cheap funeral and the person will
probably be cremated. If the person died in hospital, the NSW Health Department or
the hospital in which they died will pay for a basic funeral. Contact the hospital
registrar. Usually mourners will be allowed to attend but they will not be able to have
much say in how the funeral is organised. These funerals are called destitute funerals.
Produced by Redfern Legal Centre.
This factsheet is no substitute for legal advice. If you have a problem please seek legal advice from your local community legal centre
Last updated January 2006