Funeral Arrangements – what if the person dies in England or Wales but lives (‘is domiciled’) elsewhere?

5 December, 2016

In our previous blogs on the topic of funeral arrangements we considered who has the right to make decisions about a person’s funeral. In our final blog in this series, we consider what happens when someone dies in England or Wales but lived (was ‘domiciled’) elsewhere.

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If there is a dispute about who should take charge of the body, the court can appoint personal representatives to do so.  In Ibuna v Arroyo [2012] EWHC 428 (Ch) the deceased died in London but was domiciled in the Philippines and was resident there and in California.  His daughter, his estranged wife and his partner at the time of his death could not agree over the funeral arrangements.  He had left a Californian Will appointing his daughter as his executrix and a Californian advance healthcare directive (Living Will) authorising his partner to make arrangements for the disposal of his body.

The daughter and partner applied to the English High Court for letters of administration allowing them to make arrangements.  The estranged wife thought she should take charge. 

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The court granted the application after considering expert evidence that the Californian Will would be recognised in the Philippines and the extent to which that Will was effective under English law.  The court decided that the special circumstances allowed its power to appoint the deceased’s partner as joint administrator because of the wishes expressed in the deceased’s Living Will.  In Philippine law, the deceased’s wishes, which had been stipulated in writing and orally to his children, took precedence over the wishes of his widow.

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.

(Part 4 of 4 blogs)