If I paid for the cremation costs for my mother, can I sue my siblings for their portion?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If I paid for the cremation costs for my mother, can I sue my siblings for their portion?

My mother lived with my sister and passed in a hospital, she had no Will and the only assets were personal items and $500 in her bank account. I paid $1000 to the funeral home to initiate the cremation and $1400 was the remaining amount to be paid by my sister and myself. We agreed that the $500 would go toward cremation and I helped my sister fill out forms to get state help towards the cremation as well, which resulted in $440 from the state. She only paid $250 of my mother’s and she was an owner on my mothers account. She received the remains and all death certificates. I requested some of my mother’s personal items but she refused and has told the funeral home that she won’t pay anything toward the $remaining bill. I received a letter for the remaining 545 from the funeral home but do not believe I should be held responsible for that balance since I don’t have the remains or the death certificates. Am I legally responsible? And if I pay it can I sue

her for that balance?

Asked on August 9, 2018 under Estate Planning, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) If you were the only one who signed the paperwork or agreement with the funeral home, then you are responsible to them. That agreement is a contract between you and them; they can hold you accountable to the contract you signed. If you sister did not sign the funeral home's agreement to pay for the funeral, she has no obligation directly to the funeral home and they have no abilty to seek money from her. If you were the only one who signed, you are the one who must pay; if you don't, they could sue you and this will appear on your credit report.
2) If there was, as you describe, an agreement between your sister and you that she would pay part of the cremation cost, you may, however, sue your sister for violating that agreement to get the money she owes you.

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