Public health funerals

We will arrange a public health funeral when someone dies with

  • no known next of kin 
  • no suitable funeral arrangements 

We recover the funeral expenses from the deceased’s estate to limit the cost to the people of Cheshire East.

Our role in public health funerals

Registering the death

The next of kin should register the death or someone who knew them. We will register the death if we cannot find them.

Finding next of kin

When we are told of a death that may qualify as a public funeral we collect the deceased person’s belongings.

We search the property of the deceased person for:

  • a Will
  • documents to find any next of kin
  • finances to help pay for the funeral

If we find a Will, we ask the executor to make the funeral arrangements in line with the deceased’s wishes. The executor is the person responsible for looking after the estate of the deceased. The Council will then take no further action.

The Council works with a genealogy research company to assist with finding relatives. If we find details of any family and friends, we tell them about the death and ask them to undertake the funeral arrangements.

Arranging the funeral service

We make funeral arrangements with a funeral director who has a contract with the Council. The service will be simplistic and dignified, it will usually take place early in the morning.If anyone wishes to arrange for a minister or officiant to take the service they may be able to do so at their own expense.

Cremated remains

We will scatter the cremated remains of the deceased in the Rose Garden of one of our crematoriums. If any next of kin, family or friends request the ashes we will make a charge.

Paying for a public health funeral

We pay for the funeral from the estate of the deceased. If there are insufficient funds in the deceased’s estate we try other options.

Before we arrange a funeral, we will ask any next of kin to prove that they cannot pay for the funeral.

Funeral payments and Social Fund

The next of kin may be entitled to a funeral payment from the Social Fund if they are in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment & Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit which includes a disability
  • Child Tax Credit if your reward is high enough
  • Housing Benefit
  • Universal Credit

Property and belongings of the deceased person

We will make the property secure. Any keys or property that belonged to the deceased must be given to the Council for safekeeping.

You must not remove items from the property unless you have legal authority to do so.

When it is confirmed that we are arranging the funeral we have the first claim on the estate.

We cannot arrange to dispose of furniture or the personal belongings of the deceased. The estate or the owner of the property should pay for clearing the property.

We will tell the Treasury Solicitor if there is money left after funeral expenses are paid and there is no-one to inherit it.

Freedom of Information requests

You can request information about public funerals from FOI@cheshireeast.gov.uk

Information last updated 20 Aug 2019.