Public Health Funerals

If someone dies within Guildford Borough without a will or any next of kin to arrange a funeral, then we have a responsibility under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 Section 46 to make sure that the person who has died receives a proper burial or cremation.

We will only do this if:

  • someone dies with no next of kin

  • there are no friends or relatives able to take responsibility for the funeral arrangements.

If someone dies while in an NHS hospital, the hospital will be responsible for arranging the funeral.

We are normally told by the coroner if a public health funeral is needed.

We are unable to help if:

  • funeral arrangements have already been made

  • the funeral has already taken place.

Checking personal effects

When we are told about a death, which may need a public health funeral, we will normally work with the police and coroner to check the deceased's personal effects.

If the deceased's address is known, we will search for a will, relatives' details, documents showing religious beliefs or funeral preferences and any potential funds to pay for the funeral. We will use the details to let relatives know of the death, and to invite them to arrange the funeral.

Paying for the funeral

The funeral is normally paid for using the money from the deceased's estate. If there is not enough money in their estate to meet the costs, and if there is a will, the executor(s) may be responsible.

If the deceased has not made a will, the person who is arranging the funeral (normally the next of kin) is responsible for the funeral costs.

Help towards the cost may be available from charities or the Department of Works and Pension Social Fund. If this happens, we will tell the executor that they should keep the funeral costs to a minimum, as funds may be limited.

Funeral arrangements

If no one is able to arrange the funeral, we will take charge of the arrangements, including:

  • registering the death

  • instructing a funeral director

  • providing a coffin

  • transporting the deceased to the crematorium.

If we find instructions showing the deceased's wish for a burial or cremation, these will be followed. If there is no preference found, arrangements will be made for a cremation. The cremated remains will be scattered in Guildford Crematorium's gardens of remembrance, unless other instructions are found.

Property and personal effects

We will make sure that property is secured and any keys or effects belonging to the deceased are handed to the police or housing provider for safekeeping.

If the deceased left furniture or other personal belongings, the estate or the owner of the property will normally meet the cost of clearing the property. But property should not be removed from the house unless legal authority exists to do so.

If, after the funeral costs have been met, there is still some money left over; we will inform the Treasury Solicitor. The Treasury Solicitor does not deal with estates with less than £500 remaining after the cost of the funeral.