The Council’s role in the undertaking of welfare funerals.
The council has a statutory duty under the provisions of Section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 to undertake the disposal of deceased persons, either by cremation or burial, who die in Broxtowe Borough where no other arrangements have been made.
The council will not usually become involved if funeral arrangements have already been made or the funeral has taken place. Anyone giving instructions to a funeral director will be responsible for any costs incurred. If there are any financial limitations, then it is sensible to inform the funeral director, at an early stage, when arranging a funeral.
A cremation will be arranged by the council unless it is established that it would be contrary to the wishes of the deceased for personal or religious beliefs.
The appointed funeral director is contracted by the council to provide a dignified funeral with a coffin taken to the crematorium or cemetery in a hearse attended by bearers. The council will provide a bouquet of flowers for placing on the coffin.
However, prior to any involvement by Broxtowe Borough Council, the following needs to be considered:
A death in a hospital
If the deceased person died in a hospital managed by a Hospital Trust, then the Registration Officer of the hospital in which the person died will assume responsibility for the funeral, if no other arrangements have been made.
Relatives not able to arrange a funeral
If there are relatives who are not prepared or able to undertake responsibility for the funeral arrangements, then the council has a duty to dispose of a deceased person and to recover their costs in making the arrangements.
The nearest family member will be required to sign a disclaimer, acknowledging and agreeing that the council will collect any funds which become available to offset their costs in undertaking the funeral arrangements. Any near relatives may, therefore, be required to fund any shortfall, in order that the council’s liabilities are met.
Executors of the deceased
If the deceased made a will, the council cannot become involved in the undertaking of the funeral arrangements unless the executor revokes the will.
In order to establish who will be responsible for undertaking the funeral arrangements, a full search of the premises where the deceased formerly resided, if appropriate, will need to be made to establish whether there are any next-of-kin.
If the deceased resided in a hospital, care or nursing home, prior to death and without a private address, then there may be no property to search. However, any retained personal papers will require careful examination to establish whether next-of-kin are able to arrange the funeral.
Whilst the majority of people may be organised in the retention of legal papers, correspondence, bills, diaries etc., others are not. In many cases important documentation is put aside for safekeeping in unconventional places and a full search of the property, therefore, needs to be made.
Property belonging to the deceased
Broxtowe Borough Council have statutory authorisation to enter a property to ascertain the extent of the estate and to remove any items or assets which may assist in funding the funeral. If the Coroner is involved, then a Coroners Officer should have previously removed any valuables, money, benefit books and official documents whilst undertaking their initial investigations into the persons death.
Keys to the deceased’s property should not be left with neighbours or any other person but handed either to a Coroner’s Officer or a Police Officer.
The premises must always be made secure. In the case of properties rented from the Council’s Housing Services, a call to the relevant office will ensure a temporary secure door to the premises is provided.
Generally, after the funeral costs and administration charges have been deducted, any funds, in excess of £500, remaining from a deceased person’s estate will be forwarded to the Treasury Solicitor.
Landlords must not enter the premises or remove any items from the property until Broxtowe Borough Council has completed enquiries. In normal circumstances, this will be undertaken without delay and the keys subsequently returned to the property owner.
Broxtowe Borough Council needs to be advised of the condition of the property(i.e. if the occupant was a known drug user, general cleanliness etc.) in order that appropriate arrangements may be made for the safety of staff who will be required to enter the property.
For more information please contact Bereavement Services.