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Confusion after death of dad - funeral and money related

(96 Posts)
chestnutmare Fri 12-Dec-14 22:06:35

I need some advice please. I'll try to include all the details below, as much as I know anyway. This might be long, sorry in advance smile

My dad died a few months ago. We're in Scotland in case it makes a difference. He had no will.

Three kids, me, my brother and sister, all adults. I don't think it's relevant, but my brother and I were adopted by him after he married our mum, they then had my younger sister.

None of us had any contact with him for quite a few years before he died, due to his behaviour before he and my mum split up and divorced. There wasn't much money when they divorced (house was repossessed), they each came away with £7.5k.

When he died (think he was only 62) he had been living in various care homes for several years, due to being unable to care for himself. He had a condition similar to Alzheimer's. He was already in the care home when the divorce was finalised so as far as we know he was never well enough to spend the money.

My siblings and I only found out he had died through word of mouth locally. We weren't even sure which care home he was in when he died, although we believe he had been in a few different ones around the area over the past few years.

His sister (my aunt) contacted my sister after he died to say she'd organise the funeral and did my sister have any requests? My sister said no and so the funeral was organised by my aunt. She originally said it would be a crematorium service but ended up being at the local church. My brother and sister attended the funeral but I did not, as I was abroad at the time.

My sister received a letter from my aunt today, saying that, as my siblings and I are legal next of kin, we are liable for the funeral costs.

What we want to know is, could this be correct? We had no say in any of his care leading up to his death, wasn't even notified when he died, so it seems strange that all of sudden we are next of kin when a bill needs to be paid?

My aunt has been dealing with everything up to now, including the Department of Work and Pensions and the funeral directors. The Department of W&P paid out £2.5k directly to the funeral directors for part payment of the funeral costs, saying that was all the money they held in his name. There was also a small pension payment of £140 paid directly into my aunts account, which she has forwarded onto my sister in the form of a cheque.

I spoke informally to a solicitor today and he said we need to find out if there was anything in his estate. I doubt there'd be much, but his own mother died last year and apparently he was left money by her.

If anyone can shed any light on our situation I'd be really grateful.

Teeb Fri 12-Dec-14 22:11:37

You didn't sign anything, you didn't make any requests or contact with the funeral directors to make arrangements, you aren't liable for anything. Once a person dies, their debts die with them unless they can be recovered from the estate. Tell your aunt/solicitors/funeral directors/debtors you have zero involvement in his affairs, case closed.

Itsgoingtoreindeer Fri 12-Dec-14 22:15:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

chestnutmare Fri 12-Dec-14 22:17:01

Yup that's correct, we've had zero involvement in any of his affairs. Think it's been at least 10 years since I spoke to him in fact. Thanks so much, that's a big help smile

The letter my aunt sent was not pleasant, also mentioned that we need to organise and pay for the headstone on top of the funeral costs. My sister is a few weeks away from giving birth so she's been stressed about this today.

chestnutmare Fri 12-Dec-14 22:19:14

The funeral was at the end of October. We're not sure what was agreed between the funeral director and my aunt. But I can't believe they would have gone ahead and organised the funeral on the say so of my aunt that we (his children) would be paying if they had not even spoken to us!

Itsgoingtoreindeer Fri 12-Dec-14 22:22:27

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SwedishEdith Fri 12-Dec-14 22:22:40

How much was the cost of the funeral? Assuming a simple one, it wouldn't be much/any more than £2,500 anyway. And you don't have to have a headstone.
Sorry you've lost your dad.

LadySybilLikesSloeGin Fri 12-Dec-14 22:23:27

My father died about 6 years ago. His estate paid for the funeral and whatever was left was divided between us (our children). Your aunt can't just make arrangements and expect you to pay. You do need to know what's in his estate though as you and your siblings are entitled to whatever is left, not your aunt.

chestnutmare Fri 12-Dec-14 22:27:13

Not sure what the total cost of the funeral was. The letter from my aunt says she has passed our details onto the funeral directors, who will send on the rest of the bill to us.

MsAdorabelleDearheartVonLipwig Fri 12-Dec-14 22:29:40

You'll have to write back to your aunt and say that as you had no say in any of his arrangements then unfortunately you are not responsible for any costs she has incurred or authorised.

Cheeky mare.

LadySybilLikesSloeGin Fri 12-Dec-14 22:30:48

It depends on the funeral. A basic cremation (no flowers) was 2.5k. A burial is more expensive and if she's organised a headstone he's probably been buried. Reply to the letter if you receive one stating that you didn't consent to these costs and were not made aware that he'd passed away or was buried until recently. You really do need to get access to his finances and his belongings though.

chestnutmare Fri 12-Dec-14 22:36:31

Before the funeral my aunt said she was going to organise a cremation. Then next thing we knew, it was a burial, we found this out a few days beforehand. My brother and sister attended the funeral, despite the lack of contact for many years.

In the letter she sent to my sister, she stated she kept costs to a minimum but that's clearly not true if she changed the plan from a cremation to a burial.

Itsgoingtoreindeer Fri 12-Dec-14 22:37:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

chestnutmare Fri 12-Dec-14 22:39:23

Thanks for all the help so far, much appreciated smile

FishWithABicycle Sat 13-Dec-14 08:19:28

With no contract or agreement to pay from you, this would be completely unenforceable. The funeral directors would not have proceeded without a signature from the aunt agreeing to pay all costs. she's now trying to wriggle out of it but they won't let her - don't worry OP I very much doubt that the funeral directors will even deign to contact you as they will know full well that you have no contract.

chestnutmare Sat 13-Dec-14 08:55:12

Thanks. My aunts letter states the funeral directors have our details and will be passing the remainder of the bill on to us. My sister is passing by the funeral directors today and was wondering whether she should go in and speak to them about it? But after all the advice here I'm wondering if it would be best to just wait and see if we hear from them?

So, does anyone know if we are 'legal next of kin', whatever that means? In the letter this is the reason we have to pay the costs according to my aunt. Not sure if it's relevant but according to everyone who knows about this situation, my aunt was next of kin all the way through (up to now of course).

Does next of kin actually mean anything?! smile

Itsgoingtoreindeer Sat 13-Dec-14 10:30:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Itsgoingtoreindeer Sat 13-Dec-14 10:31:17

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Itsgoingtoreindeer Sat 13-Dec-14 10:32:57

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Itsgoingtoreindeer Sat 13-Dec-14 10:37:22

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Itsgoingtoreindeer Sat 13-Dec-14 10:40:09

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Itsgoingtoreindeer Sat 13-Dec-14 10:43:18

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Itsgoingtoreindeer Sat 13-Dec-14 10:44:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

chestnutmare Sat 13-Dec-14 11:34:22

Thanks so much smile

chestnutmare Sat 13-Dec-14 13:30:34

My sister received a bill from the funeral directors today for approx £780. So we will just contact them to say what you've all said above.

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