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Frequently Asked Questions

Life in the community

Generally speaking, a cremation will be arranged, unless we find evidence that this is contrary to the wishes of the deceased person for personal or religious beliefs.

In order to establish who will be responsible for undertaking the funeral arrangements, the council may undertake a full search of the premises where the deceased person lived. If there is no property to search, for example where the death occurs in a care or nursing home, any personal papers will be carefully examined to discover if there are next of kin to arrange the funeral.

If the relative receives certain benefits, they may be entitled to a one-off payment towards the cost of a funeral. For more information contact your local Jobcentre Plus office (see related links) or Social Security office.

Relatives will need to apply to the Probate Office for a Grant of Probate and Letters of Administration if they wish to access the remainder of the estate. Find out more by contacting the Probate Office and the Treasury Solicitor. Their details can be found at the related links section.

The general rule is that if there are relatives, they should arrange the funeral without the council’s involvement.
However, if it is clear they cannot or will not do this, the council has a duty to make arrangements and recover its costs.
The nearest family member has to sign a disclaimer to acknowledge and agree that the council will collect any funds which become available to offset our costs. This can include the family member being charged by the council for any shortfall.

In this case the council cannot become involved in the undertaking of funeral arrangements unless the executor revokes the will.

The law allows the council to enter the property and remove any items or assets that may help to pay for the funeral. A careful search may have to be carried out as it is possible important documents may have been stored in unconventional places, for safe keeping.
If the coroner is involved, a coroner’s officer should have previously removed any valuables, money, benefit books and official documents while undertaking their initial investigations into the person’s death.
The council will ensure that the premises are left secure and keys handed to the Coroner’s Office or a police officer. Keys will not be left with neighbours or anyone else.

In either of these cases, the council will not become involved and is not able to refund any expenses that have already been paid or are due to be paid. If you have instructed a funeral director to act, you are responsible for the costs they will charge.

Generally after the funeral costs and administration charges have been deducted, any funds over £500 will be forwarded to the Treasury Solicitor (see related links).

Landlords should not enter or remove any items from the property until the council has completed enquiries. In normal circumstances, this will be undertaken quickly and the keys returned to the property owner as soon as possible. We will keep the landlord fully up to date with our investigation.

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