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Making funeral arrangements

Last updated 12 December 2013

Information about funeral services the Council can provide and the associated costs of organising an independent funeral.

Money to pay for a funeral

The first thing to do is find out if the deceased left a will. If a will was made an executor will have been appointed, who will normally deal with estate and will be able to find out about the deceased’s finances. If there is no will the next of kin (the deceased’s closest relative) or another family member can make the arrangements.

In any case, it will be necessary to check how the funeral will be paid for before making any arrangements; otherwise you may have to pay the bill yourself. It will usually be necessary to go through the deceased’s papers to establish their financial position.

It is worth checking to see if the deceased has

  • Purchased a pre-paid funeral plan
  • Insurance policies
  • Bank or building society account
  • Contributed to a pension scheme which may provide for funeral costs

Payment from the estate of the deceased person

Building societies and banks should release sums of money to pay for funeral expenses from the deceased person’s account. They will normally require a copy of the death certificate and a copy of the undertaker’s estimate before agreeing to do so. They will often pay the undertaker direct once you have sent them their invoice. To settle the estate after funeral expenses a grant of probate or letters of administration have been obtained.

Pension schemes

There may be payments due from a pension scheme. If there may have been an occupational pension and you cannot find who the former employer was, you can contact the Pensions Scheme Registry on 0191 225 6316 for help. Otherwise details of a private pension may be found among the papers.

Life insurance policies

The deceased may have taken out a life insurance policy, which provides a lump sum payment if someone dies.

Registering a death

Our Registrars are on hand at this difficult time to help you through the registration of a death. Please contact the Registry Office for more details, or to arrange a time for the registration. Our staff will see all personal callers at the Office on arrival.

Waltham Forest Register Office
106 Grove Road
Walthamstow E17 9BY
Tel 020 8496 2716

Making the arrangements

Once the death has been registered, the Registry Office will issue a green certificate for the undertaker, a form to notify Social Security of the death and the death certificate. The Register Office keeps a number of booklets, which they can give you to provide help and guidance.

Once you have chosen an undertaker you will normally need to attend their premises to make arrangements, but most will do a home visit for people who have a disability and cannot travel easily. The undertaker will often require a deposit at the time of arranging the funeral.

The Deceased’s estate

If the remaining estate after funeral expenses is above £5000, it will be necessary to contact the Probate Registry to validate the will, or if there is no will, to apply for letters of administration. Many people use a solicitor to do this, but it is possible to do this yourself by a personal application.

If the estate is below £5000, banks and other financial institutions may agree to settle the estate without letters of administration.

Funeral payments

If the person arranging the funeral is in receipt of certain Social Security benefits, they may be able to get a grant or loan from the Social Security office to help pay for the funeral, if the deceased has none of the above. An application should be made to your local Social Security Office, not the deceased’s.

» See the Directgov website for more details about funeral payments

Help from the hospital

Some hospitals can arrange for the funeral of someone who dies in hospital if the deceased's relatives cannot be traced or cannot afford to pay for it, though they may make a claim on the deceased's estate to pay for it.

What happens if there are no relatives?

Local councils have a duty to bury or cremate a person who has died in their area where no arrangements have been made, and the deceased's relatives cannot be traced.

If we believe that the deceased did not want to be cremated, then we will arrange for a burial in a grave. Funeral costs are recoverable from the deceased's estate. If the deceased leaves an estate above the value of £500 after funeral expenses and all debts are paid, then this is referred to the Treasury Solicitor, who will administer the estate on behalf of the Crown.

For further information on arranging a funeral in Waltham Forest please contact:

Property Protection Services

Walthamstow Town Hall
Forest Road
E17 4JF

Tel 020 8496 3000 (via Waltham Forest Direct)
020 8496 3658

Please note: This building is not open to personal visitors.

Or email


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Contact details

  • Property Protection Services

    Walthamstow Town Hall Forest Road Walthamstow London
    E17 4JF
    Phone: 020 8496 3000
    Fax: 020 8496 3658