Asking about funeral expenses reimbursement.
March 7, 2017 3:32 AM   Subscribe

My mother-in-law passed away a few months ago. I could not go to the funeral. While he was there, my husband paid for the funeral expenses and we haven't heard anything from the siblings that are supposedly handling the property about getting reimbursed for that from the life insurance. Snowflakes within...

There was apparently a life insurance policy (and also some property that is not worth much) but the older siblings are supposedly handling those. My husband paid for the expenses (about $3000) without consulting me. He said he did this because no-one else had brought a checkbook or a credit card or something. He also said that he thought he'd get at least some reimbursement since that's partly what the life insurance was for. I am well aware of the emotional vulnerability that occurs at such a time but we really could not afford this. My husband has been resisting with all his might asking his siblings about what is going on with the estate (apparently there are no lawyers involved) and I really don't feel like I can ask them because I already missed the funeral (the woman was very dear and a wonderful person, I felt and still do feel terrible about it but we had critters I could not find boarding for and it was obviously more important for him to go than I). What the heck do I do? Or really, is there anything I can do? Is there any possible way I can ask about this without becoming even more of a pariah?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (11 answers total)
Nope, sorry. This is your husband's issue to deal with. All you can do is convince him to talk to his siblings.
posted by missmagenta at 4:04 AM on March 7, 2017 [18 favorites]

Depending on how you and your husband feel about it, would it help him if he could use you as a reason to ask for the money? He might feel it will make him look selfish or greedy in front of his siblings to ask for reimbursement, but if he can say "sorry to be pushy but I need this money for (spouse reason)" it might be an easier discussion for him to have.
posted by crocomancer at 4:17 AM on March 7, 2017

"sorry to be pushy but I need this money for (spouse reason)"

This could sour relations between the Asker and siblings-in-law; the husband could just as easily say "sorry to be pushy but I paid for the funeral expenses on the understanding that I would be reimbursed from the life insurance. The money I used was from [our emergency savings fund/the savings for our urgent house repairs/the kids' university savings/whatever]".

But yeah, really only the husband should be asking for the money.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:23 AM on March 7, 2017 [8 favorites]

Unfortunately, you should not and cannot be the person to approach your husband's siblings about reimbursement. Your husband needs to ask them. Actually, it makes the most sense to inquire whether there is a will and who is the executor. It seems like his resistance may be tied to his grieving somehow (or perhaps complicated sibling dynamics), but you'll need to push him on this since you couldn't afford to spend this money. Best of luck.
posted by katemcd at 5:15 AM on March 7, 2017 [2 favorites]

Wait, he's been resisting *asking* about the estate?? That makes no sense. I could see him resisting throwing out frequent nagging reminders that they owe him money, but if he hasn't even asked, is he expecting them to be psychic?? When there's a death in the family, all the siblings have a lot on their minds. One simple email to whoever is the official executor: "Hey Sib, Thanks so much for handling all of Mom's estate, I know it's not easy. I just wanted to make sure you had all the info for your bookkeeping, all the funeral expenses were $2950, which is $2200 direct to the funeral home plus $650 for the urn. That will be coming out of life insurance, right? Let me know when you have a time frame for that, I don't regret fronting the money but the credit card bill is due soon."

But the only thing *you* can do is to encourage your husband to send such an email, this is something that has to be among the family itself.
posted by aimedwander at 6:57 AM on March 7, 2017 [20 favorites]

File a claim against the estate. It's nothing personal, it's just business.
posted by JimN2TAW at 6:57 AM on March 7, 2017 [4 favorites]

Have your husband find out who *the* executor or administrator of the estate is. While he's finding that out, he can inquire about reimbursement. If there is an estate account set up, he should be paid back like any creditor.
posted by 41swans at 7:15 AM on March 7, 2017 [5 favorites]

Yes. File a claim against the estate.
posted by jbenben at 9:20 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Indeed. There's no need to ask, but IME if things are quiet then the executor is not doing their job properly. Send a bill to the executor. If they don't have a lawyer and there's still no payment, get your own lawyer to do it.
posted by tillsbury at 10:35 AM on March 7, 2017 [1 favorite]

Sometimes I wonder whether the people of metafilter really live by the hard and fast social rules they espouse regarding who can talk to whom about what. If it's a choice between silently losing out on an amount of money I can't afford and bending the rules on who is allowed to talk to whom, I'm probably going to bend the rules and make a phone call or two to find the information I need.

I don't yet have an outcone to report, but I am dealing with a variation of this right now. The probate court told me that if I couldn't work through the person designated to administer the estate to file for funeral expenses, then I could just file a claim against the estate. This might be a route you can pursue.
posted by zennie at 11:29 AM on March 7, 2017 [3 favorites]

It's not so much a hard and fast social rule - you're allowed to contact your in-laws. I based my advice not to do it directly on how OP referred to her relationship with the family as "even more of a pariah", implication that the family was upset with OP for missing the funeral, and the fact that OP seems a bit upset that her husband spent household money on it (which - even though it's a perfectly reasonable household management expectation - could come across as seeming miserly, selfish, or controlling if the conversation takes the wrong turn). Zennie refers to a "silently losing out on an amount of money you can't afford to lose", which I totally wouldn't advocate - if husband is making no progress after some amount of actual effort, then yes, get involved. I'm just saying it's not the first step.
posted by aimedwander at 8:21 AM on March 8, 2017 [1 favorite]

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