Death, Funeral Expenses and Contesting Wills!

Death, funeral expenses and contesting Wills and we thought that life was complicated!  Here is a scenario that can cause dilemmas for many families.

 My father died and I have been left with the costs of his Funeral Expenses and the sale of his house. Sixty per cent of his Will has been left to my two brothers, which is fine, but they are refusing to give me any costs out of the Will to cover the Funeral Expenses, sale of house expenses and other expenditure. I want to contest the Will to get reimbursed but I am unsure whether, in the long run it will cost more to Contest the Will than it will be to reap any benefit!

 Your question contains two elements. The first one is who is responsible for paying for the Funeral Expenses of your father and whether you are entitled to be reimbursed by his Estate. The second one is whether you are able to be reimbursed for the costs you have incurred in the sale of your father’s house.

Who is responsible for paying funeral expenses?

Generally, Funeral Expenses are paid from the Estate of the deceased and are handled by the Executor named in the Will. If you are the Executor named in your Father’s Will and you have paid for his Funeral Expenses out of your own pocket, then you are entitled to be reimbursed from your Father’s Estate. If you were not the Executor named in the Will, but organised your father’s funeral with the approval of the Executor, then you are also entitled to be reimbursed by your father’s Estate.

If your brothers are the Executors of your father’s Estate and they are refusing to reimburse you for your father’s funeral expenses, then you are able to take legal action to recover your reasonable expenses for the funeral from the Estate. This is not the same as Contesting your father’s Will to receive a larger share of his Estate, rather an action against your father’s Estate to recover money that you have reasonably paid for your father’s funeral.

Who is responsible for the sale of house expenses?

 In a person’s Will they will appoint an Executor or Executors who are responsible for the administration of the Estate after the person dies. As well as arranging for the funeral of the deceased, the Executor is responsible for collating the assets and debt of the deceased. This includes the sale of real property if the Will stipulates that the property is to be sold. Generally, the costs of selling the property, such as agent’s commission and conveyancing fees, will be paid on settlement of the sale, out of the proceeds of the sale with the remainder of the sale proceeds going to the Estate. If you have personally paid the costs of the sale of your father’s house, then you are entitled to be reimbursed for these costs.

You need to seek legal advice on the best course of action to recover your reasonable costs and expenses from your father’s Estate.

Graeme Heckenberg is an expert Wills & Estates lawyer and will be able to guide and advise you on Wills, Estates and Contesting a Wills.  If you are living on the Northern Beaches and surrounding Peninsula and need expert advice call The Northern Beaches Lawyer today for an appointment close to home on 9221 0341. Ask about our “No Win No Fee” policy on Contesting Wills.

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