After the death of a loved one, family members often have to handle many immediate expenses, specifically the costs associated with a funeral, before the estate is officially opened and the probate court grants access to estate assets. If you’ve paid some of those costs or are planning to, you’re probably wondering whether you can use the estate assets to reimburse yourself for funeral expenses or other out-of-pocket expenses.
The answer is: absolutely, yes!
In fact, funeral expenses are often a first priority claim in an estate and will supersede any other creditor, including taxes due to the government.
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Order of priority for payment of estate assets
State statutes determine who gets paid first from the estate. There may be some variation from state to state, but the general priority in payments is:
Funeral expenses (including reimbursements)
Estate administrative expenses (including reimbursements)
Executor/administrator fees* (note these can be limited if the estate is insolvent)
Expenses for the upkeep of the estate
As you can see, state law places great importance on making sure that families are able to pay for their loved one’s funeral. Therefore, when a family member pays for the funeral, they are the first person to be reimbursed for their expenses.
We highly recommend that you keep all records of invoices and payments so you can support your claim for reimbursement.
How to make a claim for reimbursements from estate assets
In order to make a claim, you will need to submit a creditor claim to the estate and the probate court, specifying what the claim is for and including supporting documentation such as invoices and receipts.
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