If a person dies anywhere in Somerset, without family or funeral instructions, we will arrange and pay for funeral arrangements.
We will also arrange a funeral if a family refuses to do so. In this case, the family will have no say in any funeral arrangements.
These funerals are known as public health funerals.
If no one is able to arrange the funeral, we will do the following:
- register the death
- instruct a funeral director
- provide a coffin
- arrange transport for a direct cremation
The cremated remains will be available on request to friends or family members wishing to make their own arrangements for scattering or interment. If no requests are made, the cremated remains will be interred.
How we pay for the funeral
We recover the cost of all public health funerals from the person’s estate. If there is not enough money or no money, the cost is covered by the public purse.
How we recover the cost
To help pay for the funeral, we can remove items from the person’s home, such as jewellery, and sell them six months after the funeral. If the family has already removed items from the home, we will ask them to return them.
Help towards the cost may be available from charities or the Department of Works and Pension Social Fund. We would always encourage family or friends to seek alternative arrangements for financing a funeral. A referral to Somerset Council should be a last resort.
Property and personal effects
We will make sure that property is secured and any keys or belongings are handed to the police or housing provider.
If there is furniture or other personal belongings, the estate or the owner of the property will normally meet the cost of clearing the property. Property should not be removed from the house unless legal authority says they can do so.
If, after the funeral costs, there is still some money left (over £500); we will tell the Treasury Solicitor.
Freedom of information (FOI) requests
You can find information about Public Health Funerals on our Public Health funerals open data page.