Battle & Sons Funeral Home v. Chambers

Battle & Sons Funeral Home v. Chambers, 63 Ohio Misc. 2d 441 (Ohio Mun. Ct. 1993), is a case in Ohio on what expenses are considered “necessary” for burial and the responsibility of the spouse to pay. 


The plaintiffs are a funeral service provider suing the spouse for the funeral expenses of the decedent. The spouse explicitly stated to the plaintiff that she could only afford a $1,000 funeral. The brother-in-law of the decedent told the plaintiff that they would pay for the funeral expenses. The plaintiff insisted on a $3,945 casket being used, as the deceased was a friend. However, a casket costing as little as $600 was available. After the funeral, the spouse paid $1,000 and the brother-in-law paid $410, leaving a deficit balance of $3,940. The plaintiffs sued the spouse for the $3,940, citing a spouse’s responsibility to pay for their partner’s necessary funeral expenses.


The court held that the spouse was only liable to provide for the necessary expenses of a “decent” funeral for the decedent. The court emphasized that necessary expenses, by statute, must depend upon the financial ability of the spouse. The wife strictly emphasized her limited financial resources to pay for the funeral, which were enough to cover a more basic casket. It was the plaintiff and brother-in-law who decided to go beyond necessary expenses. While the spouse could be held liable for the necessary expenses the brother-in-law agreed to, the plaintiff could not recover the excess costs from the spouse for the $3,945 casket. 

[Last updated in September of 2023 by the Wex Definitions Team]