If someone has died and there is no one who can arrange the funeral, we have a duty to make sure the person receives a proper burial or cremation.
Who we arrange funerals for
We usually arrange the funeral if the person has no known relatives, or if their relatives can’t or don’t want to be involved.
The police, the coroner, social workers or care home managers refer most cases to us. If the person died on a hospital ward it’s the hospital’s bereavement services who will arrange the funeral, but we do it if the person died in the A&E department.
We can’t help if you or someone else has already taken responsibility for arranging the funeral.
What happens before the funeral
When we've been told about a death, we collect the person’s belongings from the police or whoever else has them.
We search their home for a will or any other documents which tell us about any relatives, religious beliefs or funeral preferences. We try and contact family and friends to let them know about the death and ask if they would like to make the funeral arrangements.
If we find a will, we contact the named executor of the will and ask them to make the funeral arrangements instead of us.
Paying for the funeral
If there is any money in the person’s estate, we’ll reclaim the cost of the funeral.
If you’re arranging a funeral, we can’t help with any costs. You may be able to apply to the government for Funeral Expenses Payments.
Unclaimed property and belongings
If there is money left in the person’s estate after we have recovered the cost of the funeral - and there is no will and no known next of kin - we refer it to the Treasury Solicitor at the Government Legal Department as an ‘unclaimed estate’.
There is a list of unclaimed estates held by the Treasury Solicitor on the gov.uk website.
We also publish a deceased person’s list showing the details of people whose funerals we have arranged, and any unclaimed estates.