Public health funerals

​Public health funerals are funerals arranged by Local Authorities for those people who have died and have no known relatives to arrange or pay for their funeral; or have relatives who do not want to; or are unable to arrange their funeral. Local Authorities have a responsibility to arrange such funerals.

In most instances we are notified of the death by the Coroner’s Officer. The Coroner’s Office is involved in the investigation of certain deaths (for example - where the cause of death is uncertain). In these cases the Coroner’s Officers will make attempts to trace any relatives of the deceased. The Coroner’s Office may put notices in the press or on the radio to try to contact relatives or friends to inform them of the death.

If the Coroner’s Office is unable to trace any relatives, or no person is willing or able to prepare and/or pay for a funeral, then the Coroner’s Office notifies Leeds City Council of the death.

We may also receive notification from hospitals if a person has been found to be deceased upon arrival at hospital (and the Coroner’s Office is not involved in the investigation of the death) and there are no persons or relatives to arrange and/or pay for the funeral.

We may also be notified of a death by residential homes; hospices and nursing homes.

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Further information

More information about public health funerals:

How does Leeds City Council recover the cost of the funeral?

We may recover some or all of the costs of the funeral from the deceased individual’s assets. for example, money found at the home of the deceased, money in the deceased’s bank account(s), insurance policies, funeral plans or from the sale of goods found at the property.​       

Who does Leeds City Council notify of the death?

Leeds City Council may notify the individual’s Landlord, their bank and the Benefits Agency of the person’s death, where relevant.       

The Deputy and Estates department will inform the Treasury Solicitor’s Department of deaths involving public health funerals, if there are no relatives or Will, and if the net value of the deceased person’s estate following payment of funeral expenses is over £500.       

The Treasury Solicitor’s Department administers the estates of individuals who have passed away without any relatives, or a Will. 

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

What happens when we are notified of the death?

​Deaths where there are no known relatives are allocated to a social care worker within the relevant area Social Work team, according to the home address of the person who has passed away.       

The social care worker registers the death of the person who has passed away. In most cases, the social care worker will visit the home of the deceased, with an officer from Leeds City Council’s Deputy and Estates department, in order to search the property for evidence of family members and/or a Will. The search is also to ensure that any items of particular value are removed for safe keeping and to retrieve financial information to assist in recovering the costs of the funeral. An inventory of the contents of the property is made. Whilst attending the property the social care worker will turn the gas/electricity off at the mains, remove any perishable goods, and secure doors and windows.       

In certain circumstances when no surviving close relatives have been located, a notice may be placed by the social care worker in the press asking for any relatives of the deceased to make contact with the Authority.       

The social care worker may also place an Obituary in the newspaper. The contracted funeral director places a funeral notice in the newspaper at the request of the Council. If family member details are found and the Coroner’s Office is involved in the investigation of the death, then the social care worker notifies the Coroner’s Office that next of kin have been located. If the Coroner’s Office has not been involved, then Leeds City Council notifies the located relative and asks if they wish to take over the funeral arrangements and/or the payment for the funeral. If no family can be located, or the family members do not wish to arrange the funeral, then the allocated social care worker will arrange the funeral.       

Is a visit always made to the property of the deceased?

In most, but not all cases the property of the deceased is visited and/or searched.       

If another individual still resides at the property of the deceased, or if the property has already been cleared and/or the tenancy terminated, then no search will be carried out of the property.       

A council officer may still need to visit the property to determine if the property is still occupied by another individual, or if the property has already been cleared.       

However, in some cases, due to previous Social Care involvement with the individual, a social care worker may already be aware that another individual still resides in the deceased’s property, or that the property may already have been cleared and/or the tenancy terminated. In these cases, a visit to the deceased’s property may not be carried out.​       

What funeral arrangements are made?

Whenever the religious views of the deceased are known, the funeral is arranged accordingly.       

Most funerals are cremations unless the deceased person’s wish to be buried has been expressed in a signed, written statement.       

A public health funeral arranged by Leeds City Council includes the following:       

  • collection of the deceased
  • coffin and linings
  • gown and preparation of the deceased for viewing
  • hearse and bearers for funeral
  • Funeral Director's arrangement and attendance at the funeral
  • burial or cremation fee
  • minister of specified faith
  • funeral notice (placed by the funeral directors)

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