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The cost of a funeral is usually met through the estate of the deceased. However, if there is insufficient funds, the executor is personally liable.
Where the deceased has not left a will, the person arranging the funeral (normally their next of kin) is liable to meet the funeral and burial/cremation costs.
In some cases, a person may die without having made such arrangements, have not left the financial resources or have no relatives in a position to pay for and arrange a funeral. In these cases, the district council takes responsibility for the burial/cremation of a body, under the Public Health (Control of Diseases) Act 1984.
The council may look to recover the funeral expenses. Where there are assets that exceed the cost of the funeral in the deceased's estate, the council will look to recover the costs to reduce the expense to the taxpayer.
The council will collect the deceased's personal effects and search a property to find any documents such as a will, or which indicate preferences or religious beliefs, or the existence of any relatives. This is a very important part of the service the council provides, carried out with care and consideration for the dignity of the deceased and their family.
If family and friends are traced, they will be invited to make the funeral arrangements. Relatives will also be asked to confirm in writing if they are not prepared to do this.
The council will make arrangements to dispose of furniture and other property belonging to the deceased. If sold, the money recovered will be used to offset the cost of the funeral. Personal items such as photographs will be offered to family. The council will also register the death.
The council will employ a funeral director and a burial or cremation is organised. The council will pay for the basic costs of the burial/cremation. If we know what the deceased's wishes were, we will always look to meet these.
A committal service will always take place in the crematorium or at the graveside. Known family and friends will be informed of the funeral details. A service, in line with the deceased's beliefs where known, will always take place. Where possible, the minister or officiate will speak to any known family to make the service a personal one.
Cremated remains will be scattered in a garden of remembrance. For burials, an internment will take place in a non-private grave. No memorial is permitted unless the Exclusive Right of Burial is purchased.
Where relatives are known, the balance of any estate, after funeral costs, is paid to the next of kin. They are then responsible for settling the deceased's estate. If no relatives are found, the balance is paid to the Treasury Solicitor.
In some cases, families in receipt of certain state benefits may be eligible for financial assistance towards the cost of a relative's funeral. Enquiries should be directed to the relevant department responsible for issuing the state benefit, such as the Department for Work and Pensions.
Please contact the council if you have any enquiries about National Assistance Funerals.
Newark and Sherwood District Council