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Who has the final say when making funeral arrangements?

Written by:
Connie Arundel

Following the death of a loved one, family members soon begin making funeral arrangements for the deceased. During such an emotional time, a funeral home can often be faced with conflicting family members providing differing instructions as to the funeral arrangements.

Who should the funeral home be taking their instructions from?

The legal personal representative, whether this be an executor appointed under a Will or an administrator of an estate, is responsible for making the necessary funeral arrangements for the deceased.

Attending to the funeral arrangements is one of the first tasks for the legal personal representative. Whilst the deceased’s Will may provide non-binding guidance about their funeral arrangements, it is recommended that individuals make their personal representative aware of their funeral arrangement wishes outside of their Will. This could be through a letter, funeral plan or talking about the often avoided topic of death.

It should however be noted that in Queensland (with other states and territories having similar legislation), if the deceased has left signed instructions that they wish to be cremated, the legal personal representative must ensure that the deceased is cremated. In this circumstance, the deceased’s wishes must be followed.

Ultimately, the legal personal representative has the final responsibility and authority when making the funeral arrangements. It is at the legal personal representative’s discretion as to whether or not they take into account any input from the deceased’s family and friends.

Circumstances can arise where funeral arrangements have been made by the family and friends of the deceased, without involving or notifying the legal personal representative. This approach should be taken with caution as the legal personal representative may overrule the respective arrangements.

Take note also that the costs of a burial, cremation or other legal disposition of a body are covered by the deceased estate. If a legal personal representative or other person pays the funeral expenses, they can be reimbursed from the deceased estate.

Contact Shine Lawyers

To avoid causing conflict after you have passed away, take action now to make a Will appointing a legal personal representative who knows your wishes and will carry them out. Get in touch with a Shine Lawyers Wills and Estate expert today to book an appointment to draft up your Will or update your current one.

Written by Connie Arundel. Last modified: October 21, 2019.

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