What happens when someone dies without family?

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Who arranges a funeral if there’s no family? Who pays for the funeral if there is no family member willing to?

When someone dies and there’s no family left or the person was estranged from their family there are a few things that could happen.

In each example below, we’ll tell you what’s likely to happen and who’s responsible for paying for and organising the person’s funeral. We hope it makes your own circumstances clearer.

 

Example 1:

The person who died organised a pre-paid funeral plan.

This means that the funeral plans and costs have been taken care of. The person who died has already paid for their own funeral. They’ve told funeral directors what they’d like and who should be invited. Some people choose to pay for their own funeral so they don’t leave any debt behind or because they don’t have any family left to organise it for them.

 

Example 2:

The person who died was estranged from their family.

Perhaps the person who died has not been part of their family’s lives for a long time. Estranged family members may not want to pay for or be involved in any of the funeral arrangements. So who arranges the funeral if there’s no family member willing to? Does the next of kin have to pay for the funeral?

No. Family members aren’t legally required to pay for the funeral. The local authority where the person died will be responsible for organising and paying for the funeral instead. The local authority will organise what’s known as a public health funeral. This is a simple funeral that’ll cover the basics needed for a respectful send-off.

But before organising the funeral the local council will try to track down other family members to see if they’ll pay for the funeral. This is because a public health funeral is seen as a last resort. It’s only done to make sure that people who pass away without family are still taken care of and treated with respect.

 

Example 3:

The person who died had no funeral plans in place and no family left. But they left behind some savings or belongings in their will that could help.

The local council may still be responsible for organising and paying for the funeral in this case too. If there are no family members left to make funeral arrangements the local council has a duty to do it instead.

If the person who died left any money that could cover their funeral costs the council will be able to recover this later on. Under the Public Health Act 1984 the local authority can recover funeral costs from the person’s estate as civil debt. The local authority must make this claim within 3 years of the funeral taking place.

 

Example 4:

The person who died had no funeral plans in place and no family left. But they left a will naming a close friend as the executor of their estate.

This means that the friend they named in their will is responsible for arranging their funeral and can recover the costs from the person’s estate at a later date.

If you’re responsible for arranging someone’s funeral and worried about the costs there may be government grants or support from charities that can help.

You may also find these articles useful:

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Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family
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Attended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
  • At a date and time you agree with the funeral director, taking the deceased person direct to the agreed cemetery or crematorium (normally within 20 miles of the funeral director’s premises) in a hearse or other appropriate vehicle

In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
  • Crematorium fee (for an unattended funeral) as selected by the Funeral Director

In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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Funeral Choice charity donation

To redeem the £20 charity donation all you have to do is select the charity from the dropdown list in the Make Contact form. Once you have confirmed arrangements with that funeral director send us an email to info@yourfuneralchoice.com confirming the service has been arranged. After we receive this email we will make the donation to the chosen charity and confirm back to you.

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