In a dispute about funeral arrangements,
who has the final say?
Even in the closest of families, disagreement or confusion might arise at a time of grief. There is always one person with legal responsibility for arranging the funeral, and they have the final say.
Some people detail funeral arrangements in their Will, so that helps settle disputes.
Others have left express instructions, or perhaps done some of the preparation.
In other cases, it’s not clear or agreed what should take place. In these cirumstances, knowing who has legal ‘possession’ of the body matters. It’s not always the next of kin.
If there is a Will, then the appointed Executor is the person with legal possession of the body and is ultimately responsible for arranging the funeral.
If there is no Will, then the person who inherits first under Intestacy Rules, and is therefore the administrator of the estate, is legally in possession of the body.
If the person died from specific medical causes, then the hospital has possession of the body first, and the Coroner assumes legal possession until the death has been investigated. Only then can the body be released to the relevant person to make funeral arrangements.
When you’re writing your Will, be mindful of the need to appoint an Executor who will carry out your wishes. Perhaps leave an indication of your wishes in your Will too.
You may prefer to set up a pre-paid funeral plan so that you are able to determine your own funeral arrangements and to ensure they are paid for in advance.
Contact us for more information and advice, we are happy to help.