It is not uncommon for legal disputes to arise on the death of a loved one, not least in relation to the funeral arrangements for the deceased.
English law has developed a set of principles and rules that are often at odds with the expectations of the bereaved. It can be necessary to consult with a solicitor specialising in probate disputes to resolve these matters.
Most people would assume that the deceased wishes would be determinative of the issue and that the funeral arrangements ought to be in accordance with what the deceased would have wanted. This is where expectations and English law part company.
The first point to consider is that there is no property in a corpse.
This means that the treatment of a corpse can not form part of a person’s estate, form part of the deceased’s will or pursuant to the intestacy rules. There is some recent case authority to challenge this principle (on the basis that the Human Rights Act 1998 is relevant) but subsequent decisions have called this challenge into question.
Where the deceased has made a will the responsibility and discretion for the funeral arranges and disposal of the corpse lies with the Personal Representatives ie the executors of the will or administrators of the estate.
Where a person dies intestate the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 will apply. These rules provide for a descending order of priority for a grant in case of intestacy in the following way –
Order of priority for grant in case of intestacy
22.—(1) Where the deceased died on or after 1 January 1926, wholly intestate, the person or persons having a beneficial interest in the estate shall be entitled to a grant of administration in the following classes in order of priority, namely—
(a)the surviving husband or wife;
(b)the children of the deceased and the issue of any deceased child who died before the deceased;
(c)the father and mother of the deceased;
(d)brothers and sisters of the whole blood and the issue of any deceased brother or sister of the whole blood who died before the deceased;
(e)brothers and sisters of the half blood and the issue of any deceased brother or sister of the half blood who died before the deceased;
(g)uncles and aunts of the whole blood and the issue of any deceased uncle or aunt of the whole blood who died before the deceased;
(h)uncles and aunts of the half blood and the issue of any deceased uncle or aunt of the half blood who died before the deceased.
In order to speak with a solicitor experienced in Chancery disputes please email or telephone 07460 005 769.
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