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The final journey: funerals and family disputes

Andrew Bainham Emeritus Reader in Family Law and Policy University of Cambridge


Family disputes over funerals are surprisingly common. The author considers who in the family is legally entitled to arrange a funeral how the courts resolve disputes and what reforms may be desirable.


The article begins by considering entitlements to dispose of the deceased’s body where there is a will and where the deceased died intestate. The position in Scotland where legislation has given greater recognition to cohabitants and step relations is noted. The basis of the courts’ jurisdiction to interfere with the normal priority is discussed and the reluctance of the courts to micro-manage precise funeral arrangements.


The factors which the courts consider in resolving disputes are analysed with factual illustrations from the reported cases.


The author finally looks at the difficulties involved in ensuring that the deceased’s funeral wishes are followed. This is considered in the context of the Law Commission’s recent work on wills and its project on a modern framework for disposal of the dead. A particular anxiety is the rule that marriage automatically revokes a will. The author argues that...


Read the full article here.

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