Welfare burials

Our role in welfare funerals

We arrange the burial or cremation of a person who dies 'intestate' within Selby district. Intestate means without known relatives or if the next of kin is unable to either finance or arrange the burial.

If the deceased has passed away outside Selby district it is the responsibility of the local authority where they have died to deal with the welfare funeral even if they lived in Selby district.

Hospital death

If the deceased person died in a hospital managed by an NHS trust and no relatives can be traced or relatives are unable to afford the cost of the funeral themselves or they do not qualify for a Social Fund Funeral Payment, then the bereavement officer of the hospital in which the person died will assume responsibility for the funeral.

Department for Work and Pensions

If there are relatives who are supported by benefits form the Department of Work and Pensions, then financial assistance for the funeral can be made by applying to the DWP Social Fund. Details regarding eligibility and how to claim can be found on their website.

We cannot become involved if funeral arrangements have already been made or the funeral has taken place. Anyone giving instructions to a funeral director will be responsible for any costs incurred. If there are any financial limitations then it is sensible to inform the funeral director at an early stage when arranging a funeral.

Property belonging to the deceased

We have statutory authorisation to enter a property to ascertain the extent of the estate and to remove any items or assets which may assist in funding the funeral.

If the coroner is involved, then a coroners officer should have previously removed any valuables, money, benefit books and official documents whilst undertaking their initial investigations into the persons death.

Keys to the deceased's property should not be left with neighbours or any other person but handed either to a coroners officer or a police officer. If personal belongings of the deceased are misplaced, then the key holder will be liable.

Property owners

Landlords must not enter the premises or remove any items from the property until we have completed our enquiries. In normal circumstances, this will be undertaken without delay and the keys subsequently returned to the property owner, who is responsible for clearing the premises previously occupied by the deceased.

The officers need to be advised of the condition of the property (e.g. if the occupant was a known drug user, general cleanliness etc) in order that appropriate arrangements may be made for the safety of staff who will be required to enter the property.

Generally, after the funeral costs and administration charges have been deducted, any funds in excess of £500 remaining from a deceased person's estate will be forwarded to the Treasury Solicitor.

Treasury Solicitor and disclosure of information

'Bona vacantia' is the legal term relating to the situation in which a person dies without leaving a will and there is no known next of kin to take ownership of the property and possessions ("the Estate") belonging to that person. This is also known as dying intestate.

We inform the Treasury Solicitor's Department of all bona vacantia cases, including the name, date of death and area of death of the deceased person.

The Treasury Solicitor then administers the Estate of the deceased person and publishes such cases, including some of the details of the deceased person, on their website.

All information that may be disclosed by the council pursuant to a request made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in relation to a deceased person is available from the Treasury Solicitor's website.

What information can we provide?

The following table shows all cases of bona vacantia in the district since 1 January 2011.

Postcode Date of death Date referred to Treasury Solicitor
YO8 8DY 28 May 2011 06 June 2011
YO19 6RE 20 June 2011 23 June 2011

If you think that you may be related to the deceased or otherwise be entitled to the estate of the person(s) referred to above, please contact the Treasury Solicitor by using the contact form on the Treasury Solicitor's website.

The following information identifies cases which have been handled under the welfare burials scheme by the council but not referred to the bona vacantia section of the Treasury Solicitor's Department.

Year Date of Death Postcode
2009 --/02/2009 -
- Unknown Unknown
- Unknown -
2011 23/12/2011 YO8 4DE
2013 --/08/2013 Unknown
2014 02/01/2014 YO8 5JD
2015 15/12/2014 LS24 8EG
2015 22/05/2015 LS24 9GZ
2015 11/11/2015 YO8 8DZ
2016 17/01/2016 YO8 8DA
2016 08/02/2016 YO8 8DY
2016 14/02/2016 YO8 0FZ
2016 14/02/2016 LS25 6BY
2016 14/02/2016 DN14 9NW
2017 05/03/2017 YO8 4NZ
2017 20/04/2017 LS24 9HU

Further detail than this will not be provided:

Under section 31(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act, an exemption applies where disclosure would be likely to prejudice a range of investigations and conduct, including the prevention and detection of crime.

Disclosure of information on the assets of estates of deceased individuals before steps had been taken by the Treasury Solicitor to secure the assets could interfere with the statutory function to collect bona vacantia (ownerless goods) vested in the Crown and would provide an opportunity for criminal acts to be committed, including theft and identity fraud.