Navigating Funeral Arrangements: Who is Responsible for What?

Who Is Responsible For Making Funeral Arrangements?

If a loved one passes away, there is no legal requirement that a particular family member or friend must arrange the funeral. In most cases, the funeral responsibility falls to the next of kin.

But who is that exactly, and what happens when they can’t afford to pay? Read on to get help with :

  • Which relatives might arrange a funeral
  • Who must legally arrange a funeral
  • Paying for a funeral

Who Are The Next Of Kin?

A ‘next of kin’ is usually designated by the loved one when they are alive. This person tends to be the closest living relative of the deceased at the time of death, and is usually:

  • A spouse
  • A child
  • A grandchild

If you aren’t sure who qualifies as the closest relative when a loved one dies, the Non-Contentious Probate Rules in the UK state that the following people are classed as next of kin and are ordered from closest relative to least closely related.

  1. The loved one’s surviving husband or wife,
  2. The father and mother of your loved one,
  3. Your loved one’s grandparents

Uncles and aunts of whole blood (meaning your loved one’s full brother or sister) Uncles and aunts of half-blood (meaning your loved one’s half-brother or half-sister) Related Content

Who Must Legally Arrange A Funeral?

There is no law that requires a funeral to be arranged when someone dies; it is a personal choice for the loved one and their family. Most families choose to have a funeral to celebrate the life of their loved ones and give them a final send-off to honour their memory.

If your loved one chooses not to have a funeral, you still need to do some things when they pass away. See our helpful guide ‘What to do when someone dies’.

If a loved one has left a will, they will have named one or several executors within that document. It usually falls to the executors to arrange a funeral, as they are financially responsible for any costs associated with your loved one’s estate.

If a will is present and an executor is named within it, the executor doesn’t have to be the loved one's next of kin, although this is often the case. The executors within the will are usually responsible for organising the funeral.

As an executor, they can access any funds or assets left behind by their loved one, which they can use to fund the funeral. The executor will also be able to access any funeral plans or funeral insurance policies held by the deceased to pay the funeral costs.

It is the executor of a will who is legally responsible for sourcing or funding the funeral cost.

What If The Executor Can’t Afford the Funeral?

If an executor doesn’t have access to any funds and cannot afford to pay for a loved one’s funeral, they can seek governmental support.

We understand how stressful this time is for you and your family, so we’ve gathered some resources to help executors access help from the government to ensure that financial worries aren’t adding even more pressure.

If getting help from the government isn’t an option for you, some charities may be able to help ease the financial burden.

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Who Pays For A Funeral?

Only the executor of a will is obliged to pay for, or source funds for, a funeral. If there is no will in place, the next of kin is not legally obliged to pay for a funeral, although they usually take on the role of an unofficial executor.

If your loved one passed away with no money or family that could pay for the funeral, the local council or hospital could arrange a Public Health Funeral for your loved one. This is known as a pauper’s funeral and usually consists of a simple, short cremation service with no additional extras like flowers or cars.

Planning A Funeral With Legacy Of Lives

When organising a loved one’s funeral and understanding the financial implications and responsibilities, there can be a lot to think about and. At Legacy Of Lives, we try to help make the process a little easier for you and your family, with free resources and support — get started planning your or your loved one’s funeral for free with our funeral planner tool.