Funerals without a funeral director
You do not have to use a funeral director for a funeral. You can work with us directly to have the kind of service you want. Here is some information but please contact us if you need more advice. You can also get useful information from the Natural Death Centre.
Death at home
If you think that someone has died, call the doctor or phone for an ambulance (999). If the death was expected and the doctor has recently seen the deceased, call them. The doctor will then issue a medical certificate, which will show the cause of death. If the deceased is to be cremated, let the doctor know, as they will have to contact a second doctor to confirm the cause of death. Both doctors will then have to complete cremation certificates.
Death in hospital
If the deceased died in hospital, the hospital staff will contact the next of kin. The deceased will be kept in the hospital mortuary until collection of the body has been arranged. The staff at the hospital will advise on the collection of the deceased's personal belongings and other formalities.
The death must be registered within five days. The registrar will issue a certificate of disposal allowing burial to take place. A cremation requires more paperwork - contact the crematorium for details. The registrar will provide a death certificate. You may want to buy extra copies as banks, insurance companies etc will need them to release funds.
The funeral arrangements
Do not make any funeral arrangements until you are sure that the death does not have to be reported to the Coroner. If the Coroner is involved, it may affect the date when the funeral can take place.
Find out if there is a will as this may give specific requests for arranging the funeral. Remember that if you arrange a funeral you are responsible for paying the bill. It is a good idea, therefore, to check how the funeral will be paid for an whether there will be enough in the deceased's estate to cover the costs.
The costs of the funeral must be met before any other money can be released from the estate of the deceased. Banks will sometimes release funds to cover funeral expenses. The expenses must, however, be reasonable. If you arrange an extravagant send-off you may end up having to bear the cost yourself.
If the deceased has no estate and/or friends or relatives who can bear the cost of the funeral, it may be possible for the Council to arrange a funeral under the Public Health Act.
Working with us
If you are want to hold a funeral at Higher, Exwick or Topsham cemeteries, please contact us as soon as possible. The more time we have, the more we can offer support and advice.
You can find everything you need to apply on our Application forms for burial and rights to a grave page, but please speak to us first so we can ensure that the date and time you want for your funeral is available.
It is important that the funeral arrives at the cemetery at the reserved time as this avoids delaying other funerals. Arrangements can be made with your local minister for a religious service, or a range of alternative celebrants are available. We have a non-denominational chapel available for hire and can lend you an electric organ or a CD player.
We can advise you about suppliers of environmentally friendly Coffins and alternatives, including urns and shrouds, if required. We can also give advice on coffin construction.
If the Exclusive right of burial the grave to be used have already been purchased, we will need permission from the owner to open it. We will talk to you about this when you book a funeral.
Burial of ashes
Ashes can be buried in a family grave or in a garden of remembrance or dedicated cremated remains (ashes) plot. Ashes may also be scattered.