Can I pay for someone's funeral out of zakat (charity) money that I intended to give them after Eid (the celebration at the end of the month of fasting)?

Fatwa, posted 4.22.2010, from South Africa, in:
Religious Authority: 
Ebrahim Desai
Fatwa Question or Essay Title: 
Can I pay for someone's funeral out of zakat (alms) money that I intended to give them after Eid (the celebration at the end of the month of fasting)?

It will not be permissible to give one's zakah to a deceased person. Making a living person the owner of the wealth and giving over to his or her possession is a condition of zakah. A permissible alternative would be to discharge your zakah to one of the poor and needy family members of the deceased who will then use that money for the funeral expenses.