Public Funerals ('Bona Vacantia')

Where no suitable funeral arrangements have been made or are being made for a deceased person who has died in the South Oxfordshire area, we have a duty to arrange the funeral under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.  This will be a basic funeral to minimise the cost to the tax payer.

The council cannot become involved if funeral arrangements have already been made for the funeral to take place.  Anyone giving instructions to a funeral director will be responsible for any costs incurred.  We will not part fund a funeral.

Under the Act the funeral costs are the first expenses claimed on any estate.  We are entitled to collect any and all sums of money due to or belonging to the deceased and to sell any belongings of the deceased in order to help offset the costs of the funeral and expenses.

 After we have deducted the funeral and associated costs, and if there are no other bills outstanding, we refer any money remaining above £500 to the Treasury Solicitor in accordance with their guidelines for referring ‘Bona Vacantia’ estates.  We inform the Treasury Solicitor of the case giving at least, the following information: 

  • deceased’s full name (including a maiden name if appropriate)
  • deceased’s marital status
  • the actual date and place of death 

Although Bona Vacantia referrals are not a frequent occurrence, they are often the subject of Freedom of Information requests.  In order to reduce the amount of time taken dealing with these requests, basic details of all public health burials arranged by us in the last seven years can be viewed in a downloadable PDF on the right hand side of this page.  This list is updated quarterly.  We do not disclose some details relating to the deceased person, such as their last known address or value of the estate, in response to Freedom of Information requests on the basis that the information is exempt under Section 31 (1) (a) (law Enforcement – the prevention or detection of crime).

Last reviewed: 26 - 07 - 2019

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