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What happens if it’s not clear who should, and can, make funeral arrangements?

Responsibility for arranging a funeral usually falls to a spouse or immediate family member.  It’s common for a named person in a will or a death declaration to be nominated and in some cases, it can fall to a neutral party be that a lawyer, executor or local authority depending on the circumstances.  Having a legal clarification removes any ambiguity and places a clear responsibility on those of us that arrange funerals. Here’s a summary of the official order.

For adult cremation applications, where the deceased nominated a named person in a death declaration or a will, this person is the starting point.  In the absence of this nomination or if the nominee does not wish to make the application, the hierarchy for legal authorisation is:

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Partner (who has been living with the deceased for a minimum of 6 months)
  • Child
  • Parent
  • Brother or sister
  • Grandparent
  • Grandchild
  • Aunt or Uncle
  • Cousin
  • Niece or Nephew
  • Friend of long-standing

For children:

  • Parent or person with parental rights and responsibilities but who is not the local authority
  • Brother or sister (over 16)
  • Grandparent
  • Aunt or Uncle (over 16)
  • Cousin (over 16)
  • Niece or Nephew (over 16)
  • Friend of long-standing (over 16)

It’s rare that disputes arise but in the event there is a disagreement over who has authority, particularly among equals, further legal advice may be required.

In our experience, setting out your wishes in a plan, including who you want to act as a principle, is the best way to ensure you have the funeral you want.  It also offers the added bonus of removing the burden of decision making from loved ones at a difficult time when emotions run high.

A free plan service is available from our home page (Record a Plan) or give us a call and we can guide you through the process.