Our final journey is one we all make alone, but it’s up to every individual to make sure those left behind are fully aware of the last wishes of the deceased. That includes how to deal with the body, whether that means cremation or burial.
For years, bodies have been interred in designated graveyards, or cremated at the local municipal crematorium. The details are usually handled by the funeral home. Funerals are very expensive, with recent estimates putting the average price at around £4,000. This amount does vary, though, depending on whether you want to be buried or cremated, the extravagance of the ‘send-off’ (including the cost of the casket), and where you live (and die). In London, for example, the price of a funeral can be double that of the national average, or alternatively you can arrange a ‘Direct Cremation’ (a very simple ceremony) for around £1,600.
What is a Direct Cremation?
It’s a ‘no-fuss’ cremation where the body is collected from the mortuary and cremated. There’s no limousines, hearses or ceremony, and your family will need to request the ashes afterwards so they can be disposed of according to the deceased’s wishes. It’s a no-frills option for those who prefer not to attach any religious ceremony to the process, for those who have very simple last wishes, or have a lack of funds for a full cremation or burial.
Why is it so expensive to die in the UK these days?
If you decide to go for a full-blown funeral and burial or cremation, then the cost can start to mount. The most expensive part of any funeral are the funeral director’s fees, which make up nearly 70% of the price of a cremation, and around 53% of the price of a burial. They do, however, take care of everything from the paperwork (such as a death certificate) and disbursement costs, through to arranging the ceremony (with the contribution of the family who will know the last wishes of the deceased).
Can you bury a body anywhere?
Surprisingly, the laws as to where you have to bury a body are quite relaxed. If you don’t want to be buried in a churchyard then you can be buried on private or un-consecrated ground or even in your own garden, as long as the correct permission has been sought and the death was regarded as ‘normal’ (for example, natural causes or old age). The coffin must be a minimum of three feet below the ground, and it is wise to contact the local environmental health department first to advise them of the burial and to check there are no potential issues (such as the site being close to a water source, pipes or cables, for example).
You would also need to create a burial register to ensure the burial complies with Statute law, and you need to ensure that you have a certificate for burial issued by a coroner or the local Registrar. It’s a good idea to mark the burial on your property deeds, too, so that future owners don’t get a nasty surprise when they start digging to put in a new patio!
You’re only allowed to bury one person in your garden (if that’s what you choose to do).
The regulations on scattering ashes are somewhat vague in the UK, and again are fairly relaxed. There’s nothing to stop you scattering your loved one’s ashes over land or water, but you do need the landowner’s permission first. If you want to scatter the ashes along a river then you don’t need permission, but you should consult the Environment Agency’s guidance first. If the river is on private land, then again, you’ll also need to get permission from the landowner so that you’re not trespassing (or even ‘littering’) on their property.
Making sure your remains are dealt with properly
The easiest way to make sure your remains are dealt with in the way you want them to be is to include very specific instructions in your will. While most people think of a will as a document that tells the executor how to divide up the deceased person’s estate, there is also the provision for your last wishes to be documented too.
If you need to revise your will to include your last wishes, then it’s wise to speak to an expert in wills and probate to help you get everything in order.
If you would like details on writing a will, please get in touch via our online enquiry form or call 023 9298 1000.
- Will drafting
- Review of existing Wills
- Advice re provision for children, second families, spouses and civil partners, unmarried partners and other family members
- Advice re charitable gifts
- Advice re foreign and business assets
- Advice re Will trusts
- Inheritance Tax advice.
- Advice re Trust creation and ongoing management
- Preparation of trust deeds and other trust documentation
- Declarations of Trust
- Termination of trusts.
Probate and Administration of Estates
- Advice re the terms of the Will or intestacy rules where there is no Will
- Obtaining values for the various assets and liabilities in the estate, notifying the various institutions and obtaining all necessary estate information
- Obtaining a grant of probate or letters of administration as appropriate
- Dealing with and advice re Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax, liaising with HMRC
- Notifying and liaising with the beneficiaries of the estate
- Preparing a deed of variation or a deed of disclaimer in relation to the estate
- Selling or transferring the various assets due to the beneficiaries
- Dealing with foreign assets and Wills
- Advice re estate disputes and claims against an estate
“If it had not been for the EPA I would have had real problems even discussing my mother’s affairs with banks, investment companies, government departments and care providers, much less paying her bills from her account.
“Being able to supply copies of the EPA to the various parties meant they would speak to me and act on my instructions. Without it I would have had to pursue a long, complicated and expensive legal process – at a very difficult time personally.
“I would absolutely recommend planning ahead and making an LPA. It could make a huge difference to your loved ones.”
"We have now received all of the information for the deputyship. We are delighted with the outcome. I would like to take the opportunity to say thank you for your work and support. It was a difficult thing for us due to the circumstances, but you made it easy and that really helped.
Thank you also for the settlement of the account, we are very grateful. I have friends who have Autistic children and adults I will recommend you in the future".