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F E Smith
F E Smith, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 12136
Experience:  I have been practising for 30 years.
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My sister died on 8.04.18. Because of health issues and the

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My sister died on 8.04.18. Because of health issues and the distance (she lived in London, Kings Cross area). I have not seen her for years. Her neighbour had taken on the funeral arrangements which are very basic, but now she is saying that I should go to the HSBC bank and tell them I am next of kin to get her money released, because there is a shortfall on the funeral costs of £1500. My sister has two sons. One has blocked my calls and the other is a drug addict that she had an injunction against. I don’t feel that I should get involved without advice. Thank you.

Hello for clarification - who is owed this shortfall?

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Sorry, the funeral home apparently. I don't know if the bank hold enough to cover the amount. In fact I don't know much about my sister's affairs at all.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Sorry I am a 77 year old living on a pension I would prefer not to call.
Customer: replied 10 months ago.
I really need to know if it would be right for me to say I am next of kin when there are two sons, even though one doesn't seem to want to know, and the other had a injunction served on him to stay away.

I assume that your sister did not leave a will therefore died intestate. Provided the amount which she left is under £20,000 and there is no land/house/property, this will be dealt with under the smaller state rules were all you will need to do is get a statement sworn that you will deal with the assets in the appropriate way and distribute them accordingly and that you are entitled to do so.

If your sister had children however and no parents the siblings get nothing and the children get the estate equally. They should really be the ones to deal with this unless they are not interested in doing so. If you don’t want to get involved, then leave it behind. You cannot be compelled to deal with it. The only obligation you have is a moral one.

The first call on all the money is the funeral and the testamentary expenses.

However the person who actually organises that is responsible for paying it although they are entitled to recover it from the estate. If there is not enough money in the estate to cover the funeral, then it comes down on that so of whoever organised it. The moral is never to organise a funeral unless you know that there is enough money to pay for the funeral and the executors will pay it.

Ultimately, you cannot be compelled to do anything and if you want to walk away from it, you are quite at liberty to do so. You have no financial or other legal obligation.

Can I clarify anything else for you?

I’m happy to answer any specific points arising from this.

Please take a moment to look at the top right hand corner of the page and rate my service by clicking one of the stars at the top of the screen. It’s important you use the rating service because that gives me credit. It doesn’t just give me a pat on the head! (Although there is an incentive scheme where the more five-star ratings I get, I do actually get a pat on the head! :-)) All you need to do is press Submit. Thank you.

If you still need any point clarifying, I will still reply because the thread does not close.

Best wishes.


Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thank you very much for your help. You have taken a load off my mind. Best wishes to you

I am glad to help.

Just in case I did not make it clear, you have no financial responsibility either and for that matter nor do the children. Even if there is not enough money to pay for the funeral, family members cannot be made to contribute if someone dies a pauper. The local authority will then take over and provide a basic funeral provided there is no money at all. However if someone else organises it, they are stuck with paying the bill and the local authority will duck out.

Before you go (you can come back at any time), please don’t forget to use the rating service because that gives me credit. It doesn’t just give me a pat on the head! The thread remains open. We can still exchange emails.

Kind regards.


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Customer: replied 10 months ago.
Thanks for the clarification. Morally I feel bad, but I am so far away I cannot be hands on. The neighbour has been emptying her council flat, and goodness knows what is going on. I feel I should distance myself.
Thanks again