Who decides the funeral arrangements?
After a death in the family, tensions can often run high and it is not unusual for families to fall out over seemingly small details if the opportunity presents itself.
High on the list of more common sources of disagreement are the funeral arrangements. These, strictly, are under the exclusive control of the personal representative(s). Even a paragraph in the will of the deceased person will not bind them to a particular course of action. Their sole duty is to dispose of the body by legal means.
Recently, a case came to court that dealt with a dispute on this issue. The deceased person was a Jamaican who had settled in the UK, but who died leaving a will stating that he wished to be buried in Jamaica.
The family was split over whether this should happen and the argument ended up in court. After considering a number of issues – such as the cost involved, the deceased's ties with Jamaica and the UK, and his expressed wishes – the court concluded that his body should be released to his niece so that it could be transported to Jamaica for burial.
If such arguments are to be avoided, it is generally best to leave a clear expression of your wishes and to take care to select executors who can be relied upon to carry them out. Talk with our wills and probate experts for advice in this area.
Please note we are unable to offer legal aid.