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Legal News | 19.01.23

Your funeral wishes – a hopeful undertaking?

The death of a loved one is undoubtedly an extremely upsetting time and with emotions running high, it is not surprising that thoughts turn to organising a funeral which not only celebrates the deceased’s lifetime but also reflects the personal imprint that they have left on the lives of those closest to them.

However, burial disputes are on the rise. The growth of blended families and complicated relationships may be a contributing factor to an increase in disagreements, particularly where there are children from different relationships, all of whom may wish to have their say. Having acknowledged this, the deceased may have decided to express their wishes regarding their funeral arrangements, and nominated who should be responsible for its organisation.

It is essential to note that although funeral wishes included in a Will can help to settle conflicts and assist the family with realising the deceased’s wishes, they are not currently legally binding.

In extreme cases, where a decision cannot be made, the Court may be required to intervene (please see our previous article discussing the case of Lina Jakimaviciute v HM Coroner for Westminster and Rasa Stanevience [2019]).

Much of  our current law in this area stems from the 19th century and is surely due for review.

It appears that the Law Commission of England and Wales agrees and has confirmed on their website that ‘the new project on the processes, methods and rights concerning the disposal of the deceased will begin with a scoping phase. This will identify the issues that will be covered in the review, in order to agree terms of reference with the Government. After agreeing the scope, the Commission will then set out its plans for the review’.

The Commission’s review is expected to consider the legal status of a person’s funeral wishes, along with the rules governing those making such decisions.

We will wait to hear the outcome of the Law Commission’s review but in the meantime, if you require any further information, please get in touch with your usual contact or email us at wealth@wansbroughs.com.


Posted By Our Wills, Tax, Trusts & Probate Team