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Another "I need some important information" thread

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by hornet, Feb 20, 2014.

  1. As you probably know, my mother-in-law passed away in July, at which time all her assets and affairs were put into the hands of the solicitor while her will went through probate.
    When she was buried, the account for her funeral was given to the solicitors.
    Last night the funeral director rang me seeking payment of the account. He said that he had sent his account to the solicitors in October (they still had control of her assets and were paying other bills on our behalf at that time). This means that the solicitors had had the account twice, once personally in July and once by mail from the funeral director in October.
    Probate advertisements went out in November and the will was finalised in the third week of December.
    NOW, with the small amount of money from mum's estate committed, and my wife and I committed to a mortgage on her old house, I am being asked to pay for the solicitor's failure to pay this account (over $6,000) out of mum's money while they had it.
    What, if anything can I do about this? It seems that I am being asked to pay for their corporate incompetence......

  2. Just to get the picture clear, did mother-in-law make any arrangements in the will for her funeral?
  3. Not in terms of paying for it, no. But when we arranged the funeral with the funeral director, it was clearly stated to him on a couple of occasions that her money and assets were in trust with the solicitor until probate was granted, but that they had authority to pay any bills which came in. At no stage did my wife or her brother receive an account from the funeral director; the only contact we have had with them since the day of the funeral was their phone call last night.
  4. Funeral expenses are the first claim on an estate and should be paid before any other distributions are made. It is the responsibility of the executor to make sure this happens.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  5. I've been executor twice. Both times, the will stipulated that funeral and related expenses be paid out of the estate. I understood that if this was not in the will, the funeral became the responsibility of the family member arranging it.

    It's fairly critical whether the funeral is mentioned in the will because if it isn't, it falls to the family and whatever contract they enter into with the funeral company. It doesn't automatically come out out of the estate. Surely there were documents that were signed? I can't imagine it was carried out without a written contract which will clearly define who is responsible for payment.

    The executor is ultimately responsible to see that bills to the estate are paid, but not to pay the bills him/her self. I agree that the solicitor should have discussed this as the very first piece of business and they may need to explain:
    1. why they didn't discuss funeral expenses as a part of their professional obligation
    2. why they didn't raise the matter when they received the first (and second) invoice.
    They are after all paid to provide adequate advice.

    It may be that they are simply waiting to see what else turns up before finalising accounts. I had bills coming in up to 12 months after.
  6. Correct.

    Any costs or expenses incurred from the funeral are paid from the Estate by the Executor before any of the beneficiaries are to receive their share.

    The funeral director needs to contact the executor, not you.

  7. Paul, are you or your wife the executor?
    (I thought so, but not sure).