London Borough of Hounslow Funeral Policy

Public Health Funerals

London Borough of Hounslow is responsible for anybody who dies within the borough, and where there is nobody willing or able to make the funeral arrangements. E.g. when the deceased has no family and they haven’t left a will, or the family live too far away, or are too elderly.

This responsibility is placed on the Council by S46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984. S46 of the Act also states that the Council may recover all their costs incurred in making the funeral arrangements from the estate of the deceased (i.e. their property and possessions), as funeral payments take priority over other debts.

If the deceased had a family, the nearest surviving relative will be required to sign a form stating that they are willing for the London Borough of Hounslow 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 offset the funeral costs.

If the deceased dies outside of the London Borough of Hounslow boundary, the funeral arrangements will be the responsibility of the local authority where they died, even if they were a resident within London Borough of Hounslow.

If the deceased dies after being admitted to any hospital as an in-patient the hospital Bereavement Team will be responsible for arranging a funeral in liaison with the family members. The hospital Patient Liaison contact number for West Middlesex Hospital is 0208 321 6261 / 0208 321 5573.

London Borough of Hounslow will not be able to be involved once funeral arrangements have been made. London Borough of Hounslow cannot provide any funding for funeral arrangements to families, whether the funeral has taken place or not.

If the person has died within the London Borough of Hounslow the CFAS team will deal with all aspects of the organisation of the Public Health funeral including;

  • Registering the death,
  • Conducting a property search
  • Liaising with the funeral directors to make the funeral arrangements, and paying for the funeral.

Type of Service

The funeral will be a cremation service held at South West Middlesex Crematorium, unless it is established that the deceased would have chosen a burial for religious, cultural or personal reasons, or if a check of the Council’s burial records reveals that the deceased owned a grave in any of the London Borough of Hounslow’s cemeteries and there is room for them to be buried in it.

If a burial is required and the deceased did not own a grave, burial will take place in an unmarked shared / public grave. A Public Grave means a grave for multiple interments ( up to 4 ) in which more than one person of multiple faiths may be buried at intervals but not at the same time. These are unmarked graves with no headstone or plaque in place.

The London Borough of Hounslow’s contracted funeral directors W Sherry & Sons will provide a respectful and dignified service, including coffin, transport of the deceased to the Crematorium or Cemetery in a hearse, and sufficient bearers to transfer the coffin to the Chapel. The funeral director will 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 they will have no choice as to when and where it is held. The funeral service arranged by the London Borough of Hounslow will resemble any normal funeral service. W Sherry & Sons can be contacted on 0208 994 5475.

If there is a close family member or friend they may be involved in the funeral arrangements or attend the funeral if they wish. Following the cremation the ashes may be returned to them by the funeral directors.

Alternatively, the ashes can be scattered in an unmarked but recorded location in the Garden of Remembrance at South West Middlesex Crematorium.

Please contact the Funerals Officer on 020 3949 7735 if you require further information or assistance in regards to Public Health funerals.

Property Search Prior to making funeral arrangements, the Community Funerals Officer will search the last known address of the deceased. The search will focus on finding a will, evidence of family or friends and any financial documents or valuable 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 that may be sold to raise money.

Any items removed from the property will be retained under secure conditions at Hounslow House following the funeral. The Community Funerals Officer is not responsible for clearing or cleaning the property. Following the completion of the search the property will be secured and in the absence of a next of kin the keys returned to the landlord. If the property was owned by the deceased, the case will be referred to the Government Legal Department (GLD) in the absence of next of kin, and their instructions regarding the property will be followed.

Executors of a Will

The London Borough of Hounslow will not be able to make funeral arrangements in cases where 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 and the London Borough of Hounslow will take over arrangements.

Estate Administration

The London Borough of Hounslow are entitled to recover their costs from the deceased’s capital and assets when making funeral arrangements under Section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease Act 1984). They are not however, empowered to administer the estate. Where there is a surplus of over £500 once all costs incurred in making the funeral arrangements have been reimbursed, the Council will refer the case to the Government Legal Department (GLD). Where there are known family however the case cannot be referred to the GLD.

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