What's going on at Oliver & Co

Who decides what happens to your body when you die?

Posted on December 6th 2017

Sadly, families sometimes disagree over loved ones’ funeral arrangements.

As well as disputing smaller issues such as music, flowers, and location, some families argue over what should happen to the body itself. Often these questions concern whether the person should be buried or cremated, and where the remains should be placed.

These questions can be very difficult for families, especially if you did not make your wishes clear before you died. By making a Will that sets out these wishes, you can remove some of the uncertainty from these decisions. Undoubtedly, most families are happier knowing that they are doing what you would have wanted.

However, contrary to popular belief, any wishes that you set out in your Will regarding your burial are not binding or enforceable by law. This is because a body is not a property, and so is not subject to the same laws.

If you have a Will your wishes are more likely to be carried out:

This is because the law lists a hierarchy of people who have the right to determine the mode and place of burial. The executors of a Will are the first people who have the right to decide this. You can choose your executors when you create your Will. If you do not have a Will, the hierarchy of people is as follows:

  1. The surviving husband or wife
  2. The children of the deceased, or grandchild if the children are deceased
  3. The mother and father of the deceased
  4. Blood-related brothers and sisters, or nieces and nephews in the case of a deceased sibling
  5. Grandparents
  6. Blood-related uncles and aunts, or cousins in the case of a deceased uncle/aunt

The courts are reluctant to intervene in a family dispute over such matters. Therefore, executors are normally motivated to follow your wishes because of a moral, rather than a legal, obligation.

We can help you write your Will:

If you would like to write your Will please get in touch with us today for free initial advice by calling 01244 312306 or by filling in our contact form here.


Call and speak to a lawyer on 01244 312306