West Lindsey District Council may, under Section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, arrange the funeral of anyone who dies within the district boundary when there is no one available to take responsibility for the funeral.
This does not apply to anyone who dies in hospital, or in an ambulance on the way to hospital. Under these circumstances, the responsibility lies with the health authority.
What happens when we arrange a public health funeral?
Where it appears to us that no suitable arrangements are being made by relatives or friends of the deceased, our Public Protection Team (Licensing) will undertake the arrangements for the funeral, and where possible, reclaim the costs incurred from the deceased estate.
Officers from the Public Protection Team (Licensing) will conduct a search of the deceased’s property (or room if in a care home) with a view to finding details of their next of kin, their bank or building society details, their Will or any money.
The first claim on any estate are the funeral costs and therefore we are permitted to sell any items of monetary value, if necessary, to recover the costs of the funeral.
If we make arrangements for a funeral, it will be simplistic and we are unable to purchase extra items such as hiring limousines for attendees.
We will normally opt for cremation unless a Will is found which may indicate the deceased requested a burial or other type of funeral.
Please note that in cases where we take responsibility for the funeral arrangements, we do not administer the estate and are therefore unable to make any payments on behalf of the deceased.
Frequently asked questions
Who notifies the Council that a death has occurred?
Normally, the coroner informs us, or if the deceased’s last address was a care home, a member of staff from the home may contact us.
I am a next of kin but I can’t afford the funeral arrangements
If you are in receipt of benefits, you may be able to claim a Funeral Payment from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and so you should contact them in the first instance. You can apply any time after the date the person has died and up to three months after the date of the funeral. For more information please visit the DWP website.
What happens to the deceased’s belongings?
If the house belonged to the deceased and there are no next of kin, the estate will be referred to the Treasury Solicitor. If the deceased lived in a rented property, the landlord is responsible for the personal effects and their disposal.
Which funeral director does the Council use?
West Lindsey District Council has a nominated funeral director. If anyone other than this funeral director is asked to make arrangements, the Council cannot be responsible for any costs incurred up to that point.
If there is money in the deceased’s estate, can we spend more on the funeral?
No, we are only able to arrange simplistic funerals. If there is no next of kin and there is more than £500 left in the estate after the funeral invoices have been settled then the case is referred to the Treasury Solicitor for them to investigate. For more information visit the Treasury Solicitor’s website.
What if there is a Will?
If a Will is found then we will inform the executor named in the Will about the death. It will then become the responsibility of the executor to administer the estate and arrange the funeral.
Further information and advice
If you have any further questions, please email the Public Protection Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information relating to numbers of Public Health Funerals carried out, the costs and other related information please see the Public Health Funerals Freedom of Information Requests page.