Public health funerals

If you are concerned about how you are going to pay for a funeral,

it is important that you discuss this with a funeral director at an early stage in the arrangements.

It is normally a partner, executor or other family member who would be responsible for making funeral arrangements, and they would also be responsible for the costs once a contract has been entered into with a funeral director.

Financial help is available for those who are in receipt of certain benefits, more information on this including eligibility, application, and further information can be found at the Direct Gov website.

How we can help?

We have a statutory duty under Section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 to make arrangements for the funeral of any person who has died in Aylesbury Vale, where it appears that no funeral arrangements are being made.

We act on written instructions received from the local coroner’s office and in some cases, the managers of residential homes and sheltered accommodation where a death has occurred and there are no relatives or persons able to make the funeral arrangements. If a person dies in hospital and no funeral arrangements are being made, then the responsibility is with the relevant health authority.

We'll defer responsibility in the following circumstances:

  • If the person dies while an in-patient at hospital, the hospital will deal with the funeral arrangements
  • If the person dies in a nursing home, social services will normally manage the funeral arrangements
  • If the deceased's money was being managed by social services
  • We have a duty to recover monies from the estate of the deceased in order to repay any costs we incur arranging the funeral. Every effort will be made to investigate next-of-kin for the deceased. We'll conduct the investigation and the funeral in a compassionate manner.

We won't contribute to the cost of a pre-arranged funeral: the funeral will be conducted in line with the council's criteria.

In all cases passed to us, we observe a 10 day stand still period from initial instruction to give friends and family unknown to us the opportunity to  make the necessary arrangements. We are unable to assist if funeral arrangements have already been made in part or full.

In all cases passed to us, we observe a 10 day stand still period from initial instruction to give friends and family unknown to us the opportunity to  make the necessary arrangements. We are unable to assist if funeral arrangements have already been made in part or full.

Our service

In cases where we take responsibility for a funeral, we will register of the death, instruct a funeral director, and provide a coffin for a cremation service. Any known family or friends will be advised of the date and time of the funeral and are able to attend if they wish to do so.

Unless it contradicts the known wishes or religion of the deceased we will make arrangements for a cremation service with a funeral director. If required we will arrange a burial. In either case, an appropriate ceremony is arranged in accordance with the deceased’s known beliefs.

Who pays for the funeral?

The cost of the funeral is usually met out of the estate of the deceased. If there are insufficient funds the executor (person named in the will to carry out its instructions) is personally liable. Where the deceased has not left a will and there is no executor the person arranging the funeral (normally their next of kin) is liable to meet the funeral costs. If the next of kin is not prepared to arrange and pay for the funeral (e.g. there are insufficient funds in the estate) they will be asked to make a written statement to confirm they are not prepared to do this.

Belongings and estate

Where we take responsibility for a funeral, our staff may need to search the property of the deceased to:

  • Look for a will and other necessary documents
  • Secure items of value
  • Ensure the property is left safe and secure

If the deceased lived in rented accommodation or a care home, once we are satisfied there are no items of value, the landlord or care home takes responsibility for clearing the premises at their cost.

Where there is no next of kin and the value of estate is in excess of £500 (following all funeral costs) then the estate will be referred to the Government Legal Department (formally known as the Treasury Solicitor). For more information visit Bona Vacantia, part of the Government Legal Department.

Public Health Funerals - Freedom of Information Requests (FOI)

We are frequently asked for information about public health funerals, people who have died with no known next of kin, bona vacantia estates, and estates which have been referred to the Treasury Solicitor now known as (Government Law), or Duchy of Lancaster or Cornwall.

In response to the volume of FOI requests on this subject we have published all such cases we have an involvement in. We refer some cases to the Government Legal Department.

This means we are able to refer those requesting information on this subject to this page which in turn enables the Council to deal with such requests pursuant to section 21 of the FOI Act (information accessible to applicant by other means).

Section 31(1)(a) - law enforcement (prevention and detection of crime)

We will not disclose address details where they relate to deceased's empty properties as the property is likely to be unoccupied and might still contain the deceased's personal papers and effects.

Listings contain all information that can be made publically available.

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