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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Are legitimate funeral expenses enforceable by law? My childrens

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Are legitimate funeral expenses enforceable by law? My children's stepmother is refusing to reimburse my son, (who is on minimum wage earnings) £240 for sandwiches served at his father's funeral. As his stepmother was refusing to have anything more that tea, coffee and biscuits even though it was lunchtime, my son said in the first instance that he would pay for them. however, when my daughter who is co-executor heard this she sanctioned the expense as her stepmother had also unilaterally sanctioned expenses. Probate has been passed and the money has been paid out to the stepmother. My children have received cheques for the small amount their father left them, but my son could really use the £240 he had paid out. Despite several entreaties the stepmother refuses to give his the money.
Thanks for your help. Catherine

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Did the executors stepmother originally agree to pay for this and then change her mind?

It isn't clear from the facts what has happened because you say that your daughter sanctioned the expense and so did the stepmother.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
No the stepmother has never agreed to the expense. She thought it adequate to serve tea, coffee and biscuits only for a funeral which took place at12.30, but my son and daughter were embarrassed by the thought that people coming to the funeral over their lunch time, some coming from work, should go without some sustenance. My daughter lives out of London so my son, when discussing the funeral with his stepmother, out of desperation said he would pay. Later, speaking with his sister, who is a co-executor with her stepmother, his sister said that as it was a legitimate funeral expense she would sanction it as the stepmother had sanctioned other expenses without referring to her.

The stepmother never advised my daughter that she was co-executor and my daughter ony found this tu by chance when ny son got hold of a copy of their father's will and was referring to the estate as "my money" within hours of the death of her husband, my choldren's father.
If your son went ahead and understandably ordered a buffet in view of the time, and he did so without the approval of the executors, then even though what he did was quite understandable, he would not be entitled to recover that cost.

However there are two executors and this is something for the executors to resolve between them.

His sister told him to go ahead and he is entitled to rely on that.

If the stepmother is not willing to reimburse him, he has no alternative but to issue Small Claims Court proceedings against the executors jointly and let them sort it out between themselves.

I know this is like a sledgehammer to crack a nut but unfortunately that is the only solution if the stepmother is in control of distribution of the estate and she simply refuses to reimburse him.
Sometimes, the th
reat of legal proceedings will bring about a solution and if it does not, it would seem unlikely that she wants to spend a day in court for the sake of £240.

Here is the link to the Small Claims Court which you should find quick and easy-to-use.

As this money is due to your son, he must bring the proceedings himself although there is no reason why you cannot assist him with the paperwork..

Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Do I understand therefore that while it is a legitimate funeral expense, it is not a legal obligation for the executor(s) to pay out if they don't want to and that by going through the Small Claims Court, my son would not necessarily be awarded the payment? If he did, would he also be awarded Court costs?All communication has broken down between my daughter and her stepmother so there is no chance of them as co-executors coming to an agreement.
The only “testamentary” costs are those for funeral and probate, not the wake.

Costs for the wake are at executors discretion.

He may win or lose depending on whether his sister says that she agreed this spend.

If he wins he will only get the money and his court costs back.

If he loses he will lose court costs.

Court costs can be obtained from this link

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