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Are a decedent's funeral expenses generally considered reimbursable if the personal representative pays for them?

Minneapolis, MN |

I am personal representative for a relative that is close to death. His will says the P.R. will be "entitled to reimbursement for expenses properly incurred." The relative has not prepaid for his funeral and will not have enough liquid assets to pay for one after he dies. He has a life insurance policy but the PR is not the beneficiary so that money might not be available. In addition, the mortuary says it will not wait until the estate is settled to be paid. Does the will specifically have to say the funeral expenses will be covered for them to be reimbursable?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    under Minnesota law, the funeral expenses are reimbursable from the estate. These are paid"off the top" as are legal fees, personal representative compensation and other administrative expenses. All probatable assets are subject to being used for these expenses including personal possessions and other illiquid assets. This can be tricky especially since there may be exempt assets that are not discussed in your question. Suggestion #1:If your relative is still competent and alert, he may wish to change the beneficiary on his life insurance to be sure the funeral is taken care of. Suggestion #2: have the insurance policy beneficiary be the one who signs on the guarantee for payment that the funeral home will insist upon. This is a sitaution where you should consult with a probate attorney before you make any binding decisions. (If you found this information helpful, please check off a positive rating below.)

    The contents of this article are for information only and is not to be interpreted as legal advice. For personal legal advice you should consult with an attorney who is experienced in probate law or estate planning. The U.S. Treasury Department requires us to advise you that any written tax advice cannot be used and is not intended to be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding any penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code. Written advice from our firm relating to any Federal Tax matters may not, without our express written consent, be used in promoting, marketing or recommending any entity, investment plan or arrangement to any taxpayer.


  2. Funeral expenses are a priority debt of an estate in almost all jurisdictions. What this means is that the funeral expenses are paid before general and other creditors. However, if the estate can not pay you back all the funeral expenses. you should discuss this with the beneficiary of the life insurance policy. Morally, that person should pay for the balance owed to you that the estate cannot pay you due to lack of liquidity. You should get that person to committ to paying you back IN WRITING. Otherwise, do not volunteer to pay for the funeral out of your own pocket.

    You need to petition the court to have the holder of the POA removed from office. In addtion, the petition would demand a complete and full accounting of the POAs actions throughout the term of office. Finally, you could also demand to be named conservator of this disabled person.

    Hope this helps. Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is sjfpc@comcast.net . For further tax advice visit his website at www.sjfpc.com . and blog at >

    LEGAL DISCLAIMER Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law throughout the state of PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States. His phone number is 215-735-2336 or his email address is sjfpc@comcast.net , his website is www.sjfpc.com. and his blog is <http://frommtaxes.wordpress.com/> Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received. By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.


  3. To answer your question, the will does NOT have to specifically say that. In fact, even if a person dies without a will, the funeral expenses are a priority expense to be paid from assets of the probate estate before others take their inheritance. You state there are no liquid assets but are there other assets, such as a car or investments, that will eventually be liquidated and become part of the probate estate? If so, and if those assets have enough equity after payment of secured creditors, you have something to eventually be paid from if you advance the funeral expenses. The life insurance proceeds will not be available as they pass free from probate expenses and creditor claims. Don't rely on the value of the person's primary residence for future reimbursement as the homestead, if it passes to a surviving spouse or children, is exempt from being used to pay for funeral expenses. Be sure to consult with a knowledgeable Minnesota licensed attorney regarding all the facts of your situation.

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