Funeral Arrangements – who has the right to decide?

28 November, 2016

Our last blog in this series considered the impact of  a Deceased’s wishes on the disposal of their body. In this blog we consider what can be done if no one has the right to make decisions about funeral arrangements or if various parties with equal rights cannot agree.

In these circumstances, they can ask the court to decide who has the right to decide the funeral arrangements and what should be done.   The court’s overriding concern is to ensure that the body is disposed of with proper respect and dignity.  It will consider these factors:

  • The deceased’s wishes for funeral arrangements.
  • The wishes of family and friends.
  • The place with which the deceased was most closely connected.
  • Practicalities, e.g., is there a good reason to fly a body thousands of miles for burial?  Sometimes there will be a good reason and sometimes there won’t.

 

16465240 - businessman with umbrella standing near tomb of crisis

 

If several people with equal rights to decide what should happen to the body cannot agree, the court can use its inherent jurisdiction, or power, to make a final decision.  In Anstey v Mundle and another [2016] EWHC 1073 (Ch), the daughters of a man who died in the UK, where he had lived for many years, disagreed about moving his body back to Jamaica for burial.  This was a wish expressed in his Will and to a friend but contrary to what some of his daughters thought he really wanted.  The judge applied the factors above and decided the body should be flown back to Jamaica.

Further help

If you would like more information about what you should do if you are responsible for dealing with a deceased person’s body or are unable to agree what should happen to a body, please contact Philip Youdan at philip.youdan@crippspg.co.uk.  For further information about Will disputes and disputes involving trusts and estates please click here to view our Guide to Will Trust and Estate Disputes.

In our final blog of the series we will look at what can be done when someone dies in England or Wales but lived elsewhere.

(Part 3 of 4 blogs)