There is no law in the UK that states you must have a…
When you pass away, the person who has the right to make decisions about your funeral would be your personal representative, also known as:
If you’ve made a Will, then the executor(s) of your Will would have the legal right to make decisions about your funeral.
If you haven’t made a Will, then the appointed administrator (your next of kin) would have the legal right to make the decisions.
To prevent any uncertainty of your funeral wishes when you pass away, it’s important to make a Will and appoint a trustworthy and capable executor (or multiple executors with different skill sets).
Even so, what if there are disagreements about your funeral arrangements when you’re no longer around? Does the executor(s) have the final say? And who is responsible for your funeral costs?
Continue reading as we answer these questions, as well as explain in more detail who has the right to make decisions about your funeral…
This depends if you have made a Will, or not:
If there's a Will
The person who’s named as the executor of your Will would have the legal right to arrange your funeral.
This person may be a relative, a close friend and/or a professional such as a solicitor.
You may have appointed several people to be executors to share the list of executor duties when you pass away, which include administration of your estate.
If the executor is a friend and/or a professional, then they would have a duty to pass on your funeral wishes but would probably leave all the funeral arrangements to your family.
If there's no Will
If you haven’t made a Will, then your closest living relative (next of kin) would be appointed as an administrator and would have the legal right to arrange your funeral.
The Rules of Intestacy (inheritance law) would determine who takes on the role of administrator and this is usually in the strict order of: spouse, children, parents, siblings and so on.
If there are two people, such as two children, then a judge would decide who to appoint as the administrator.
The administrator would have the same legal responsibilities as the executor, so they’d have to handle your affairs and administer your estate after you pass away.
The Rules of Intestacy doesn’t recognise unmarried partners. Therefore, if you’re unmarried but have a long-term partner, then they could be left without any say in the funeral arrangements and won’t receive anything from your estate.
Essentially, the person who’s planning your funeral is responsible for covering the funeral costs.
For example, if someone has appointed the services of a funeral director to carry out your funeral then they must cover the funeral director fees (and other associated costs).
In most cases, the next of kin (closest family member) or a personal representative would pay for the funeral and then would recover the funds from the deceased’s estate once probate is completed.
If there’s no money from the estate to pay for the funeral, and the next of kin or personal representative can't afford to (or don’t want to) cover the bill, then the local council would then need to pay for a simple cremation without a ceremony (also known as a ‘paupers funeral’).
Be responsible for your own funeral costs with a funeral plan
If you’re worried about the short or long-term financial implications of your funeral, then for peace of mind you could arrange a prepaid funeral plan.
When your funeral plan is required, the funds paid towards your plan would go directly to the funeral director who’s carrying out your funeral.
Your loved ones won’t have to pay a penny for any of the services included in a plan, even if prices have risen in the future.
Lock-in your funeral costs today with a funeral plan arranged through Reassured.
The person who has legal possession of a dead body would be the personal representative of the deceased.
As mentioned, the personal representative could be the executor (if there’s a Will) or the administrator (if there’s no Will).
The person who has legal possession of a dead body also has the right or duty to dispose of it.
There are some instances in which other people could have legal possession of a dead body other than the executor or administrator. Although this may be on a temporary basis.
These people could be:
It’s important to mention that no one can own a dead body; it can’t be bought or sold as property.
Unfortunately, disagreements over funeral arrangements happen to even the closest of families.
When a loved one passes away, there may be conflicting opinions on every aspect of their funeral. Burial or cremation? Religious or non-religious? Traditional or a celebration of life?
Emotions would be running high and people can become passionate about how they think the funeral should go ahead, which is how major disputes arise.
Even if you’ve left instructions in your Will, disputes can still arise as these instructions aren’t legally binding.
So, who has the final say over your funeral arrangements?
If you’ve made a Will, and there’s a disagreement over your funeral arrangements, then the executor(s) would have the final say of how it should proceed.
But sometimes the executor isn’t a relative and they’ve chosen not to get involved in the funeral arrangements.
If this is the case, and there’s a dispute amongst family members, they could turn to the executor to make the final decision.
If you haven’t made a Will, then the appointed administrator would have the final say.
If joint executors disagree over your arrangements, and they can’t come to any compromise, then they would need to apply to the court.
Bearing in mind that a judge can only decide who has the final say, not how the funeral should go ahead.
If there has been a disagreement over your funeral arrangements and/or the administration of your estate, then family members may challenge the validity of your Will (if you have one).
If your Will is deemed invalid, then this can cause a number of complications after you pass away.
Government guidelines for making a legally valid Will state you must:
Most people hire a professional to help with making Will, as there’s less chance of any mistakes being made.
According to a survey by Sunlife, we aren’t very good at letting our loved ones know what we want for our funeral. In fact, only 38% of the survey participants had made a Will.
Of the other participants:
Source: SunLife (2021), Cost of Dying Report, sunlife.co.uk/costofdying2021
Funeral plans arranged through Reassured start from as little as £19.11* a month, for either cremation or burial.
Get in touch with our award-winning team to learn about the various funeral plan options.
Please note, your personal representatives aren’t legally obliged to use your funeral plan. However, they are more likely to follow your wishes if arrangements are already in place.
It would be sensible to provide all the details of your plan in your Will and ensure that your representatives are aware.
*£19.11 per month pricing includes a £75 discount only available to Co-operative members and is based on a 50-year-old purchasing a Co-operative Simple Funeral Plan at £3,020 over the maximum term available of 25 years (total amount repayable £5,733.40) as of 1st March 2021
There is no law in the UK that states you must have a…
How do you arrange a funeral yourself? Read this DIY…
What is the cheapest cremation? A direct cremation is the…
Writing your life insurance in trust can reduce inheritance…
You can pay for your own funeral before you die with a…
If you have lost a parent recently, you may be concerned as…
Cheap funeral plans arranged through Reassured offer you…
What are the top 10 funeral plans? Which is the best…
Should you choose a prepaid funeral plan to protect your…
Who are the best funeral plan providers? Compare the…
The good news is, it's possible to get life insurance over…
Is it still possible to secure life insurance cover when…
Yes very pleased with my choice very helpful easy to understand and very pleasant transaction all good!Mrs M Rushworth
Very professional and reassuring. Life insurance sorted in about 10 minutes.Stephen Davies
very courteous and friendly. Polite professional and empathic.Stedroy Fenton
Another happy customer I am. They are very professional and kind. Fully communicative. I recommend.Piotr Stepien
Really attentive during the call, good clear guidance throughout. Well done.Michael Reynolds
Amazing service quick fast and easy and Joey was a star on the phone really help me thanks.Sera Woolley
I made the right choice and now I feel relieved that I did.glyn
Really genuine kind and compassionate team with great knowledge and friendly approach highly recommend them!Katelia Merritt
I must say Jake took me through every step and was brilliant, recommend them anytime.Allan Green
Very happy and everything explained well, so glad a took the time to take the call, normally I would say I'm busy. But compared to other company's we save so much more money.Jenny Berry