After your death, your loved ones have many matters that need to be dealt with, one of which is your funeral arrangements. Understandably, there can be differing opinions amongst family members as to what arrangements are to be made for your funeral. So, who does have the final say when making these decisions?
Decisions on funeral arrangements are the responsibility of your legal personal representative. If you pass away with a Will, it is your executor who will be responsible for these decisions and if you pass away without a Will, it will be the administrator of the estate (or the person entitled to be administrator) who decides.
Arranging your funeral will usually be the first task for your legal personal representative to attend to after your death and, while not legally binding, it is recommended that you provide them with guidance about your wishes. We will always recommend that you include your funeral wishes in your Will however you can also provide guidance in a letter, a funeral plan or even a conversation with your legal personal representative.
In some States (but not Victoria), if you have left signed instructions that you wish to be cremated, your legal personal representative must ensure that this is followed.
Your estate is legally responsible for the payment of all funeral costs including burial fees, cremation fees or other disposal costs. If, at the date of your death you have sufficient funds in your bank account to cover these costs, these funds can usually be accessed for payment of the invoiced costs with certain requirements to be met by your bank.
Should the estate not have sufficient funds to pay the funeral costs and no family members can contribute to payment, some government allowances can be accessed for financial assistance.
If someone other than the estate pays your funeral costs, they are entitled to be reimbursed by your estate. This is one of the first liabilities to be paid.
What can you do?
The responsibility and authority to make decisions regarding your funeral, lies primarily with your legal personal representative. To ensure the right person is making these decisions on your behalf, it is essential that you make a Will and consider who your executor will be, and that they can be trusted to make decisions in accordance with your views.
If you need to make or update a Will, or should you have concerns regarding your legal rights when it comes to a loved one’s estate, funeral arrangement, burial or cremation, please contact our Wills and Estates Team who will be able to assist you on 03 9614 7111 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.