/ Legal responsibilities after death

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AndyB123 - on 03 Oct 2012
Sadly my Mother in law died yesterday and already we are embroiled in a legal dispute about who is responsible for the arrangement of the funeral, and who will cover the costs.

My wife has not spoken to her mum for 2 years, and has not seen her for 7, the same for her only brother.

Her mother lived with a guy for the past 7 years (the time difference is related), who, according to the Housing Dept. is listed as her Partner. He is denying all responsibility, claiming they were companions, and refusing to take care of any arrangements or financial burden, citing that her two children are next of kin.

My question is over the legal definition of Next of Kin,and Partner,and whether legally a partner is next of kin.

mypyrex - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to AndyB123: Sorry about your bereavement. Did she leave a will, if so then the executors could, I believe, take responsibility. If the executors are solicitors then they could advise.

Unless there is a marriage I don't think "partner" has any legal recognition and it's down to the nearest blood relative who, in the eyes of the law I assume will be next of kin.
Alasdair Fulton - on 03 Oct 2012
syv_k - on 03 Oct 2012
In reply to AndyB123:

Did she make a will? The relevant phrase is actually "personal representative" rather than "next of kin". In case of family dispute then a funeral director will take instructions from anyone who is a personal representative. That is either an executor of the will if there is one, or if there is not a will, it will be a close relative excluding unmarried partners. So (if no will) her partner will not be a PR. The children will. However anyone can refuse to become an executor or PR if they wish. If everyone refuses, the local council steps in to provide a basic 'paupers' funeral as a last resort. It is obviously much better if everyone can come to an amicable agreement and a third party such as a priest may be able to help.

Did she leave any money or assets? If so, the funeral costs will come out of this pot, before legacies are paid, so there will be no financial burden to the ones organising the funeral. If not, there is a Funeral Payments Fund which may help if there is nobody who can afford to pay.
MargieB - on 04 Oct 2012
In reply to syv_k: Hi, I was the executor of my mother's estate. I quite understand about funeral costs. Funeral Directors can be wary of family disputes. I had Mum's accounts anyway and the funeral director gave me a complete quote plus cost of headstone and engraving. I took this to one of Mum's banks and asked to see the manager. He agreed to pay the funeral costs directly from Mum's account prior to probate. I had a death certificate on me which they photocopied and the quotation. I paid in full by bankers cheque made out to funeral directors before the funeral. The funeral was fine the directors did a perfect job. I went to the co-op funeral directors who were tops.

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