Emmersons Solicitors - Newcastle and Sunderland
Jacqueline Emmerson Collaborative Family Lawyer
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Arranging a funeral

I realise that this is not a particularly uplifting topic. However, at this time of year many people are arranging a funeral. At Emmersons Solicitors Probate Department we always notice that more people contact us for help with Probate in January and February.

What steps should you take if you are dealing with a funeral?
In the first instance you should establish whether or not there is a funeral plan in place. We always advise clients who are making a will to keep the original of their funeral plan in a safe place in their home .We then store a copy of the same free of charge with their original Will, the Deeds to their home and Lasting Powers of Attorney.

If you have a funeral plan have you let your family know about it, where it can be found and which Funeral Director you have paid for the plan?
This is essential as the plan can’t be used with another Funeral Director and you don’t want your family to inadvertently pay a second firm. If you haven’t already informed your family about any plan that you have then you should do so now.

How can you afford to pay for a funeral?
If there is no funeral plan then you may struggle to find the money to pay for a funeral. This is a genuine expense of the deceased’s estate and can be recovered from the estate. However, unless the value of the estate is under £15,000 a grant of probate will usually be required to obtain estate assets, including money. There is one exception to this, you can ask the deceased’s bank to provide a cheque made payable to the Funeral Director prior to Orobate being granted. At Emmersons Solicitors we do this as a matter of course whenever there is sufficient money available in the relevant bank account.

Is there a will?
If there is a will available then this may specify funeral arrangements. Many of the wills that we draft at Emmersons make provision for such things as specific hymns, or which church or crematorium are to be used. If you have made such arrangements then please make sure that your family and or friends know about this. They should know where to find the copy of your will and which solicitor holds the original. I am always amazed when clients advise me that they have an old will but they can’t remember which solicitor has the original. You should treat your will as a precious document in the same way that you would the deeds to your home.

Make sure that you keep a copy of your will in an envelope or folder with the details of your solicitor. If you later amend that will then keep a copy of the new will or codicil in the same envelope. That way your family can be sure that they are looking at your last will. Did you know that whilst a funeral is a permitted expense of an estate the purchase of flowers, the cost of a wake and even a headstone is not? In one particularly cruel case a charity was left money by the deceased. A number of people were to receive specific bequests and the rest was to go to the charity. The charity challenged the fact that the family had spent money on a headstone! Therefore when we draft a will we check to see if a client wants to include expenditure on a headstone as a legitimate expense of the estate. In one case recently one of our clients made it clear that £1,000 was to be used for a big party following her death!

For more information ask to speak to our wills and probate department.

Newcastle:   0191 284 6989
Sunderland: 0191 567 6667

Author: Jacqueline Emmerson
Collaborative Family Lawyer

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