Public health funerals

We will make funeral arrangements for anybody who dies within our boundary if no funeral arrangements have been made, no relatives of the deceased can be found, or the relatives of the deceased cannot or will not arrange a funeral.

This responsibility is placed on the council by section 46 of the public health (control of disease) act 1984. The act also states that the council may recover all their costs incurred in making the funeral arrangements from the estate (property and possessions) of the deceased.

In most instances we are notified of a death by the coroner’s office when they are unable to trace any relatives or no person is willing or able to organise and/or pay for a funeral.    We also receive notifications from hospitals or other residential homes if a person has been found to be deceased and the coroner’s office is not involved in the investigation of the death.  

When we won't organise a funeral

There are a number of situations where we are not responsible for organising a funeral and therefore will not accept the case:

  • if the person in question died outside of the Redcar and Cleveland boundary, the funeral arrangements will be the responsibility of the local authority where they died, even if they had lived in Redcar and Cleveland
  • if funeral arrangements have already been made, or the funeral has already taken place, the council will not be able to get involved and will not provide any funding for the funeral arrangements. If you are unable to pay for the funeral and are claiming benefits or tax credits, you may be entitled to a funeral payment from the Department for Work and Pensions. For more information, please visit the Funeral Payment page on the website.
  • if the deceased left a will and the executor is traced. In these circumstances the executor would be expected to organise the funeral. If the executor wishes to revoke their duties, they must make a formal renunciation of the will and declare that they wish to have no further involvement in the funeral arrangements
  • 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.

No relatives

If there are no known relatives we will register the death of the person who has passed away. 

In most cases we will visit the home of the deceased in order to search the property for evidence of family members and/or a will.  We will also remove any items of value for safe keeping and will retrieve financial information to assist in recovering the costs of the funeral. We will also remove any perishable goods and make sure that the property is safe and secure.

We will take reasonable steps to find and contact next of kin. This is so that they can decide whether to organise or attend the funeral. In certain circumstances when no surviving close relatives have been located a notice may be placed in the press asking for any relatives of the deceased to make contact with us. We may also engage the services of a company that specialises in genealogy research to trace any known next of kin.

If we use a genealogy research company, they will trace any next of kin and pass on their details to us so that we can contact them about the funeral. If you are contacted by a genealogy company because a relative has left an estate, please be aware that they may charge a fee to help you claim the estate and will ask you to sign an agreement with them. You are under no obligation to do this. You can choose to make a claim yourself or can sign with an alternative company if you prefer.

If family member details are found and the coroner’s office is involved in the investigation of the death, then we will notify the coroner’s office that next of kin have been located. If the coroner’s office has not been involved then the council will contact the relative and ask if they wish to take over the funeral arrangements and/or the payment for the funeral.

If family are located we may invoice the deceased estate for costs incurred up to the point of handing over the funeral arrangements. If no family can be located, or the family members do not wish to arrange the funeral, then we will arrange the funeral.

Funeral arrangements

Once we have accepted a case, we will deal with all aspects of the organisation of a funeral including:

  • registering the death where there is no family to do so
  • dealing with the funeral directors to make the arrangements
  • paying for the funeral.

All cases will be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.  Our contracted funeral directors will provide everything necessary for a simple but dignified service, including a coffin, transport of the deceased to the crematorium or cemetery in a hearse, and sufficient bearers to transfer the coffin to the chapel. 

A cremation service will normally be held unless we know that the deceased would have chosen a burial for religious, cultural or personal reasons or if we know that the deceased owned a grave and there is room for their burial. If a burial is required and the deceased did not own a grave then burial will take place in an unmarked public grave.

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 may attend the funeral service but will not have any involvement in the planning and arrangements. 

Cremated remains will normally be scattered in the Gardens of Remembrance at the crematorium. This will take place within one month of the funeral. In exceptional circumstances the cremated remains may be given into the care of a close family member or friend.

When organising a public health funeral we will not usually pay for additional expenses including, but not limited to a press notice, embalming, church service, funeral cars (other than the hearse), flowers, a wake or post-funeral reception.  Exceptions may be made, for example where there is no known family, or if we know that there are sufficient funds in the deceased estate for us to recover the cost of the funeral as well as any additional costs.

Funeral and administration costs

We will pay the funeral bill directly. If there are sufficient funds in the deceased estate, we will take steps to recover the expenses. There is also a one-off administration fee which will also be recovered from the deceased estate. 

The Department for Work and Pension offers funeral support for those on low incomes who need help paying for a funeral. 

For more information of public health funerals, please contact our property and financial affairs team on 01642 771644.

Estates referred to the Treasury Solicitor

The word 'estate' means everything a person owns at the time when they die, including their money, possessions, and property.

If we've arranged somebody's funeral, where there is no will and no known next of kin, if there are still funds in their estate after funeral expenses have been paid, we'll refer the estate to the Treasury Solicitor.

The Treasury Solicitor looks after the estates of people who die 'intestate' (without leaving a will) and without next of kin.

View a list of estates which have been referred to the Treasury Solicitor through the link below:

Bona Vacantia - GOV.UK (

The list is updated quarterly. If you require details prior to December 2021 please contact the property and financial affairs team  at the email address  who will help with your request.

The Treasury Solicitor administers the estate of the deceased person and publishes such cases, including some of the details of the deceased person, on their website.

All information that would be disclosed by the council in response to a Freedom of Information request regarding a deceased person is available from the Treasury Solicitor's website.

Under section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, an exemption applies where disclosure would be likely to prejudice an investigation, such as those concerned with the prevention and detection of crime.

Disclosure of information on the assets of deceased individuals before steps have been taken by the Treasury Solicitor to secure these assets would provide an opportunity for criminal acts to be committed, including theft and identity fraud.

It could interfere with the statutory function to collect bona vacantia (ownerless goods) vested in the Crown.

We do not provide information about the last known address of the deceased person on the basis that the information is exempt under Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Disclosure of addresses may affect living individuals and contravene the first principle of the Data Protection Act 2018, which requires that personal data be processed fairly and lawfully by the council.

Living individuals currently residing at the address where the deceased person lived would not expect their personal data to be made available publicly without their consent.

Section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 provides an absolute exemption where disclosure of personal data about individuals would contravene any of the principles set out in the Data Protection Act 2018.

Therefore, there is no requirement to consider the public interest in disclosure.