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Public Burials

When someone dies it can be a very distressing time for those arranging a funeral, especially if there are concerns about how the funeral is to be paid for. If you have such concerns, it is important you discuss this with your chosen funeral director at an early stage in the arrangements. Once you enter into a contract with a funeral director you will be responsible for the costs.

You may be entitled to a funeral payment from The Social Fund if you or a partner are receiving certain benefits, such as:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit, you

More information, including a claim form,  is available on the website (Central Government) and on the Money Advice Service website

The Bereavement Advice Centre website  also offers support and advice. They can be contacted via telephone on 0800 634 9494. 

Public Health Act 1984

We are responsible for arranging a funeral when someone dies within the district boundary if:

  • no funeral arrangements have been made
  • no relatives of the deceased can be found, or
  • the relatives of the deceased are unable or not prepared to arrange a funeral

This responsibility falls to us under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. The Act also empowers us to recover costs incurred in making the funeral arrangements from the estate of the deceased (property and possessions).

If the deceased lived within the Dover area but passed away outside of the Dover District boundary, the funeral arrangements will be the responsibility of the local authority where they died. 

If funeral arrangements have been made, or the funeral has  taken place we will not  get involved. We cannot provide funding for funeral arrangements to families, whether the funeral has taken place or not.

If the deceased had a family, the nearest surviving relative will be required to sign a form stating they are willing for us to make the funeral arrangements, and understand that costs will be recovered from the deceased’s estate. If the family have already removed any possessions from where the deceased lived, these may need to be returned to us to help offset their costs.

Once we have accepted a case, we will organise the funeral. This includes registering the death, liaising with funeral directors and paying for the funeral.

A cremation service will normally be held, unless it is established that the deceased would have chosen burial for religious, cultural or personal reasons. 

Our contracted funeral directors will provide everything necessary for a dignified service which will appear no different to any other simple ceremony. 

The funeral director may also arrange for a minister of religion or a representative of the faith of the deceased to lead the service. If a non-religious service is appropriate, a civil funeral celebrant will be used. Family and friends will be kept informed and may attend the funeral service.

Following the cremation, the cremated remains will normally be scattered at the crematorium Gardens of Remembrance. In certain circumstances the ashes may be given into the care of a close family member or friend.

Property Search

Prior to making the funeral arrangements, our officers will search the last known address of the deceased. The search will focus on finding a will, evidence of family or friends, and any items that may be used to offset the funeral costs. This may entail removing personal possessions from the property, including address books, correspondence, legal documents, financial paperwork and possessions such as jewellery which may be sold to raise money.

We are not responsible for clearing or cleaning the property.

Following  completion of the search the property will be secured and the keys returned to the landlord. If the property was owned by the deceased, the case will be referred to the Government Legal Department and their instructions regarding the property will be followed

Executors of a Will

We will not  make funeral arrangements where the deceased left a will and the executor is traced. In such cases we expect the executor to make suitable arrangements. If the executor wishes to revoke their duties, they must make a formal renunciation  and declare they wish to have no involvement in the funeral arrangements.

Estate Administration

We are entitled to recover costs but are not empowered to administer the estate. Where there is a surplus of over £500 after taking into account the funeral costs and our expenses, the case shall be referred to the Government Legal Department under bona vacantia. The case can not be referred in this way where there are known family. Under such circumstances we will hold monies until a legally entitled person demonstrates their suitability to administer the estate through the holding of letters of administration from the courts. It is not our practice to return money or property from the estate to any family member without proper lawful authority. 

Death in a Hospital

If the deceased died as an in-patient in a hospital managed by an NHS Trust and there are no relatives, the NHS Trust may assume responsibility for the funeral arrangements and recover their expenses from the deceased's estate.

Death in a Nursing Home

Funeral arrangements are normally made by relatives or social services, as they will often be managing the finances of the deceased. 



Telephone: 01304 872428

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