Burial disputes arise when one or more people are unable to agree what should happen to a person’s body after they die, including how or where to bury the body. This is a distressing time for the family. Our team is able to advise on the legal position and help you with any dispute that may arise.
While many people choose to set out their wishes within their will, those wishes are not binding on the executors/family members. They are also not legally enforceable. Difficulties can therefore sometimes arise when close friends or family members do not agree with those wishes or when a person does not include any such details of their preferences within their will.
Unfortunately, disputes also tend to arise when a person’s burial preferences are not known. Either because they did not have a will or did not discuss their wishes with their friends or family members.
The general assumption is that the next of kin has the right to dispose of the body. However, this is not the case. Providing they are not acting unreasonably, the person who generally has the authority to make decisions about the body is:
- The executor where there is a will
- The personal representative where there is no will
The Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 state that if the person dies intestate (without a will), the personal representative can be, in this order:
- Surviving spouse or civil partner
- Deceased’s children
- Deceased’s parents
- Deceased’s brother and sisters
- Deceased’s grandparents
- Deceased’s aunts and uncles
However, the Court can impose different arrangements, if it so chooses.
Due to the nature of disputes involving funeral arrangements, it is important to act quickly to resolve the issues.
How we can help you
Our lawyers offer expert legal advice and can:
- Advise you on the issues you may face when deciding funeral arrangements for a loved one
- Advise you on the steps you can take if you face a dispute/if there is a dispute between you
- Act on your behalf in arranging and/or attending a mediation
- Enter into discussions on your behalf to reach an agreement on the steps to be taken
- Apply to the Court for an Order to enable certain persons to make decisions on funeral arrangements
- Acting on behalf of and settling a burial dispute between two children of the deceased
- Advising on a dispute regarding a person’s ashes
- Acting on behalf of a party to a burial dispute at a mediation and successfully settling the claim