Funerals arranged by the council

Sometimes when someone dies, no next of kin can be found. Some families may be unable, or unwilling, to pay for the funeral. In cases like this we have a legal duty (under Section 46 of the Public Health [Control of Diseases] Act 1984) to make the arrangements.

The person who died may have been:

  • cared for by the local authority
  • homeless
  • lived alone

What happens?

After being notified of the death, we will try to trace and notify a person’s next of kin, through any contact details or paperwork left by the person who has died. This may involve a search of their home to find a will or any other documents to help find relatives.

If the persons death has not been registered, we will arrange this.

In some cases, a will with an executor or family may be found and be notified about the death of a relative that they have been estranged from. They will be asked to arrange the funeral and we will take no further action.

The family may be unable or unwilling to pay for the funeral, especially if the person who died left no estate from which to recover the funeral costs.

When this is the case, the next of kin will be asked to make a written statement to confirm that they are not prepared to arrange the funeral.

If the family are having trouble paying for a funeral, including one that has been arranged, help maybe available through the governments website.

Paying for a public health funeral

Where possible, we will pay for the funeral using money from the deceased persons estate.

The funeral will be basic, but it will still be respectful to the deceased.

Any monies left from the estate after we have reclaimed our costs, will be referred to the Government Legal Department, known as Bona Vacantia.

What happens to the deceased's belongings?

If the deceased was living with rented accommodation, it will be the responsibility of the landlord to remove and clear the property after we are satisfied that there are no items of required for finding next of kin, recouping costs or required to be passed onto relatives/associates.

If the property was owned by the deceased, then the remaining estate will be referred onto the Government Legal Department, known as Bona Vacantia.

Reclaiming costs

Under the Act, the funeral costs can be reclaimed by us through the deceased persons estate.

If, after we have reclaimed costs,

  • the remaining estate is over £500
  • there are no other costs of bills outstanding
  • no known next of kin

we refer the estate onto the Government Legal Department, known as Bona Vacantia.

Please see our recent public health funerals page.

Contact Public Health Act Funerals

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