Funerals can be carried out either by burial or cremation. A funeral director can be hired in order to help you organise it. The funeral can be as personalised as you wish, in some cases the deceased may have planned the funeral in advance – check the will for special funeral instructions.
Deciding the date of the funeral
You cannot finalise the date of the funeral until the death has been registered. If the body still needs to be reported to the coroner, the date of the funeral will be affected.
Fulfilling the wishes of the deceased
The will, or other written instructions left by the deceased may contain special requests about the handling of the body – if no instructions were left, the executor/administrator as well as close family members can decide if the body will be buried or cremated.
The only legal requirement for funerals in the UK is that the death is certified and registered, the body has to be either buried or cremated.
Funerals outside of England and Wales
If you wish to carry out the funeral outside of England or Wales, you will require permission from the coroner for the district before you can move the body outside the region. You need to send the coroner a notification of intention to remove the body.
If the coroner decides to grant permission, the coroner will let you know within four days of receiving your notification. A removal notice (Form 104) will be issued out to you, and the registrar of births, deaths and marriages.
Funeral directors – things to consider
Even though you are not legally required to hire a professional funeral director, many people choose to do so. If you do, the most important consideration is that the director deals with the deceased in a dignified and professional manner. Other services that the funeral director provides include:
Making all the funeral arrangements
Arranging for an obituary in the newspaper
Provide staff and suitable coffin
Transporting the deceased from where they died to the funeral home
Looking after the deceased before the funeral
Provide a hearse to the cemetery or crematorium
From a financial stand point, different directors can charge different amounts for the same service, so it is best to get a few quotations from several companies. Also, ask for a detailed price list for all the services that they provide before making a decision.
Once you decide on a director – make sure to get a written quotation, detailing all of the costs and ask about any ‘disbursements’ (i.e. costs paid by the funeral director to other parties e.g. newspaper announcements).
Finding a funeral director
Most funeral directors are not regulated or licensed but they are normally registered with one of two trade associations:
National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD)
Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF)
Members of these trade association are required to provide you with a price list on request. They are not allowed to charge more than their written estimate unless given your permission. Before proceeding, make sure to clarify whether the funeral director is independent or part of a group, the adverts do not always state this information.
If you’re unsatisfied with the service provided by your funeral director
For any complaints or disputes with the services that you received, you can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau. If the funeral director is a member a trade association, you can also contact the relevant association and use their services to resolve any disputes. Some useful links about your rights as a consumer, or making a complaint:
Citizens Advice Bureau
Your consumer rights when buying a service
Making a complaint
If you do not wish to use a funeral director
Funerals can be arranged without the help of a funeral director. If you choose to do this, contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local authority for advice and guidance. The Natural Death Centre can provide you with additional information.
National Death Centre
Local Council directory