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Frequently asked questions

Below you'll find further information and answers to the questions we get asked the most.

Who are coroners?

Coroners are usually lawyers but in some cases they may be doctors. Coroners are independent judicial officers - this means that no-one else can tell them or direct them as to what they should do but they must follow the laws and regulations which apply. Each coroner has to have a deputy and between them they have to be available at all times. Coroners are helped by their officers, who receive the reports of deaths and make enquiries on behalf of the coroner. Some officers are full-time but in quieter parts of the country they are part-time and often work as policemen or policewomen the rest of the time. The cost of the coroners' service is met by local taxation.

What does the coroner do?

A coroner enquires into those deaths reported to him. It is his duty to find out the medical cause of the death, if it is not known, and to enquire about the cause of it if it was due to violence or was otherwise unnatural.

What is the role of a coroner’s officer?

Coroners’ officers work under the direction of coroners and liaise with bereaved families, the police, doctors, witnesses and funeral directors. They receive reports of deaths and make inquiries at the direction, and on behalf of a coroner.

Are all deaths reported to the coroner?

No, deaths are usually reported to the Coroner by the police or by a doctor if the death is sudden or unexpected. In most cases this will be by the deceased’s own doctor or a hospital doctor who has been treating him/her. Often however the deceased’s own doctor or the hospital doctor who has been treating them during their last illness will be able to give a cause of death and able to issue a Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death (MCCD) without any reference to the Coroner. This will then allow the death to be registered by the Registration Services who will then issue a death certificate.

When is a death reported to the coroner?

There are a number of occasions when a death will be reported to the coroner, by a doctor, the police or the registrar of births and deaths. This could include where it appears that:

  • No doctor attended the deceased during his or her last illness;
  • Although a doctor attended during the last illness the deceased was not seen either within 14 days before death nor after death;
  • The cause of death appears to be unknown;
  • The death occurred during an operation or before recovery from the effects of an anaesthetic;
  • The death was due to an industrial accident, disease or poisoning;
  • The death was sudden or unexpected;
  • The death was unnatural;
  • The death was due to violence or neglect;
  • The death was in other suspicious circumstances; or
  • The death occurred in prison or police custody.

How are deaths reported?

Deaths are usually reported to the coroner by the police or by a doctor called to the death if it is sudden or unexpected. In other cases, the local registrar of deaths may make the report. Whenever the death has been reported to the coroner the registrar must wait for the coroner to finish his or her enquiries before the death can be registered. These enquiries may take time, so it is always best to contact the coroner's office before any funeral arrangements are made.

What will the coroner do?

The coroner may decide that death was quite natural and that there is a doctor who can sign a form saying so. In this case the coroner will advise the registrar. The coroner may ask a pathologist to examine the body. If so, the examination must be done as soon as possible. The coroner or his staff will, unless it is impracticable or cause undue delay, give notice of the arrangements to, amongst others, the usual doctor of the deceased, and any relative who may have notified the coroner of his or her wish to be medically represented at the examination.

What is a post-mortem examination report?

A post-mortem examination report details the assessment made on the body and is sent to the coroner by the pathologist that carried out the examination. It may also give details of any further tests carried out to help determine the cause of death. Copies of the report are normally available to the next-of-kin. A fee may be payable for further copies.

Is an inquest always necessary?

No, a coroner may decide not to hold an inquest after a post-mortem examination as there is no reason to suspect that the person died a violent or unnatural death, and they did not die in prison. If this is the case then the body will be released for the funeral and a form will be sent to the registrar of births and deaths stating the cause of death so that the death can be registered.

Does the family have to accept the result of a post-mortem examination?

The relatives can ask the coroner for a separate, additional post-mortem examination if they still have concerns about the cause of death. This would be at the expense of the family and not the coroner’s service.

If the death is not due to a natural cause?

The coroner will hold an inquest.

Will the inquest decide who is to blame?

No. An inquest is not a trial. It is a limited inquiry into the facts surrounding a death. It is not the job of the coroner to blame anyone for the death, as a trial would do.

What is the purpose of an inquest?

The inquest is an inquiry to find out who has died, and how, when and where they died, together with information needed by the registrar of deaths, so that the death can be registered.

What happens if somebody has been charged with causing the death?

Where a person has been charged with causing someone's death, eg by murder or manslaughter, the inquest is adjourned until the person's trial is over. Before adjourning, the coroner finds out who the deceased was and how he or she died. The coroner then sends a form to the registrar of deaths to allow the death to be registered. When the trial is over, the coroner will not normally resume the inquest.

What about other court proceedings?

Any other court proceedings will normally follow the inquest. When all the facts about the cause of death are known, then a person may be brought before another court, or a claim for damages made. The inquest may be of help to the family of the deceased in finding out what happened. The information obtained may also help to avoid similar accidents in future.

Is there always a jury at the inquest?

No, most inquests are held without a jury. There are particular reasons when a jury will be called including:

  • if the death occurred in prison or in police custody
  • if the death resulted from an incident at work

In every inquest held with a jury, it is the jury, and not the coroner, which makes the final decision (this is called returning the verdict). Jurors are paid expenses and some money towards loss of earnings, if any. They are not expected to view the body, although in some cases they may have to look at unpleasant photographs.

Must a witness attend court?

Yes. In many cases the evidence of a witness may be vital in preventing injustice. A witness may either be asked to attend the inquest or receive a formal summons to do so.

Who decides which witnesses to call?

The coroner decides who to ask and the order in which they give evidence. Anyone who can help should tell the coroner or his officer who will then see what relevance and help the evidence may be.

Who can ask a witness questions?

Anyone who has what is called "a proper interest" (see next paragraph) may question a witness at the inquest. He or she can get a lawyer to ask questions or they can ask questions themselves. Questions must be sensible and relevant. This is something the coroner will decide. There are no speeches.

Who is a "properly interested person"?

  • a parent, spouse, child and anyone acting for the deceased
  • anyone who gains from a life insurance policy on the deceased
  • any insurer having issued such a policy
  • anyone whose actions the coroner believes may have contributed to the death, accidentally or otherwise
  • the chief officer of police (who may only ask witnesses questions through a lawyer)
  • any person appointed by a government department to attend the inquest
  • anyone else who the coroner may decide also has a proper interest. If you ask, the coroner or his officer will advise you whether you have a proper interest

Is legal aid available?

Legal Aid for the vast majority is not available but you may get some legal advice from the

Citizens Advice Bureau

or a solicitor under the 'Legal Help' scheme. If the death invokes article 2 of

European Court of Human Rights

(ECHR), public funding can be made available but you would need specialist advice about applying for it.

Can future deaths be prevented?

Sometimes the inquest will show that something needs to be done to prevent a recurrence. The coroner can draw attention to this publicly and will write to someone in authority about it, for example the council or a government department.

Will the inquest be reported in the papers?

All inquests must be held in public and someone from the press is usually present in court. Whether they report the case is a matter for them. At the same time the coroner knows that every death is a personal tragedy and tries to treat each one sympathetically. The inquest tries to get at the truth, and can often help to stop the spread of untrue stories about the death. Suicide notes and personal letters will not be read out unless they have to be, but although every attempt is made to avoid any upset to people's private lives, sometimes, in the interests of justice, it is unavoidable.

Can the funeral be held before the inquest is finished?

Yes. If an inquest is to be held, the coroner will normally allow burial or cremation of the body once the examination of the body has finished. However, delay can arise if someone has been charged in connection with the death.

If the coroner decides to hold an inquest, can the death still be registered?

No, if there is an ongoing inquest then the death cannot be registered. An interim certificate of fact of death can be issued by the coroner to assist in the administration or the estate. It should be acceptable for banks and financial institutions unless it is important for them to know the outcome of the inquest. When the inquest has been completed, the coroner will notify the registrar so that the death can be registered by the registrar and a death certificate can be obtained

Can a death certificate be given before the inquest is finished?

Not normally. However, when the inquest has been adjourned after someone has been charged with causing the death, a certificate can be issued. The coroner may provide an interim certificate of the fact of death so as to assist the personal representatives in looking after the estate.

Is the coroner concerned with organ transplants?

If the death has been referred to the coroner, the coroner must be asked to agree to the removal of the organ, since the removal could affect some important evidence. Decisions can usually be made quickly

Will organs be retained after a coroner’s post-mortem examination?

Distressing though it can be for the deceased’s family, organs and tissue may sometimes be removed from a body and preserved by a pathologist if they have any bearing on the cause of death or the identity of the deceased. It is possible that these may be made available to the family some considerable time after the funeral so that they can decide on the way they are disposed of.

Can a report of the inquest be obtained?

When the inquest has been completed a person who has a proper interest in the inquiry may apply to see the notes written by the coroner after the inquest, or may have a copy of the notes on payment of a fee. In some cases there may be a taperecording, or transcript, of the hearing.

Other functions of the Coroner:-

What if the family would like to take the body abroad?

In every case where someone wishes to take a body out of England or Wales, written notice must be given to the coroner in whose area the body is located. The coroner will then consider whether an inquest or post-mortem examination is needed and will notify his or her decision within four days.

Can the body be bought back to this country?

If a body is being brought into England or Wales, the coroner in the area to where the body is brought may need to be involved. The coroner may need to determine the cause of death and will be required to hold an inquest if the death was unnatural, or violent, or sudden and of unknown cause.

When death has occurred outside England and Wales, where is the death registered?

When death has occurred outside England and Wales and the body is returned here, the Death Certificate will have been issued in the country where the death occurred rather than by the Registrar here. When the body is returned to England or Wales, then the death is treated in exactly the same way as if the death had occurred here, rather than abroad, whereby the coroner will consider whether an inquest or postmortem examination is needed. The coroner must be notified in every case when a body is to be taken out of England and Wales (whether or not there has been an inquest), and four clear days are allowed for his or her reply, unless written permission is obtained sooner. There is no fee for this. When a body has been brought into England and Wales from another country the coroner may be able to give some help in finding the cause of death and may be required to hold an inquest.

What must I do if I think I have found Treasure?

If a person finds an object which they believe to be Treasure then they should report it to the coroner’s service within 14 days. Failure to do so is a criminal offence.

Where can I get more information about the duties of the Coroners office?

From your local coroner's office. This is usually listed in the telephone directory. Alternatively, your local police or the Citizen's Advice Bureau will be able to tell you where the office is situated. Local Coroners Offices to Mansfield & District Crematorium are:-

HM Coroner for Nottinghamshire

The Council House, Old Market Square, Nottingham NG1 2DT.Tel : 0115 8415553E-mail : coroners@nottinghamcity.gov.uk

HM Coroner for Hundred of Scarsdale & High Peak District

5- 6 Royal Court, Basil Close, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S41 7SLTel : 01246 201391

HM Coroner for Derby & South Derbyshire

5 – 6 Royal Court, Basil Close, Chesterfield, Derbyshire S41 7SLTel : 01332 613014

Public Health Funerals

In some instances there are times when a person passes away and there is no-one available to make funeral arrangements. This usually happens when someone dies with no known blood relatives or has relatives that do not want or who are not able to be involved.
In instances such as these when no suitable arrangements have been made then the Council has a responsibility under section 46 Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 to ensure that the deceased receives a proper and dignified burial or cremation.
In some instances this role may also come under the responsibility of the local hospital.

Who can refer a funeral to the Local Authority?

In most cases it will be HM Coroner’s office who refers the case to the appointed
‘proper officer’ at the Local Authority, however occasionally managers of residential homes or sheltered accommodation may do this or possibly even acquaintances of the deceased.
In all instances the Local Authority to which the funeral is passed is dictated by where the deceased died, not where they lived.

What happens next?

Once a death has been referred to the ‘proper officer’ at the Local Authority, then they will make every attempt to retrieve the deceased’s belongings from the police or whoever has them. They will also carry out a full property search of the deceased’s home in order to retrieve any documentation such as wills, information pertaining to the location of any relatives, any indication of religious beliefs or funeral preferences. The death is registered by the Council if it has not already been done.
If details about family and friends are found, they will be told about the death and we will work with them if they want to take over responsibility for the funeral arrangements, otherwise we will seek information from them to enable our appointed officiant who will take the funeral service to personalise the service itself.
The officer responsible will make contact with creditors and debtors notifying them of the deceased’s death. They will also inform utilities, banks, insurers and landlords.
If a will is found the executor (the person who will be responsible for looking after your estate when you die) will be asked to make the funeral arrangements in line with the deceased person’s wishes. The council will then take no further action.

Who pays?

The cost of the funeral is normally paid for using the money from the deceased persons estate. (A person’s estate is all the belongings you own when you die). If there isn’t enough money in their estate to meet the costs, the executor of the will is personally responsible.
If the deceased person has not made a will the person who is arranging the funeral (normally the next of kin) is responsible for the funeral costs.
Help may be available from other sources like charities and the department of works and pension. In the event that the cost of your funeral estimate is over what can be claimed then either your funeral director or bereavement services department will usually be happy to work with you in advising how to reduce these costs.
If the next of kin is not prepared to arrange or pay for the funeral, for example if there isn’t enough money in the deceased person’s estate to pay for the funeral or the next of kin is unable to raise funds from elsewhere then they will be asked to make a written statement to confirm this.

Property of the deceased

In the event that the Local Authority take over the funeral arrangements then they will need to enter the deceased’s home and undertake a property search. To enable this to happen any keys or property belonging to the deceased that family and friends have should be handed in for safekeeping. All property should be recorded and handed into the proper officer who will then then issue a receipt for it.
Property should only be handed over to the legal representatives dealing with the deceased person’s estate. This may not be family or friends because if a will has been made executors may have been chosen
If the deceased person’s belongings are not worth anything in monetary value and the property was rented, the landlord is responsible for recovering the property and dealing with the contents
If, after the funeral costs have been met and there is still some money left over, the proper officer for Public Health funerals will notify HM Treasury Solicitor at the Bona Vacantia department who will then follow the rules set down by the Secretary of State.

Burial or Cremation?

The decision over burial or cremation will be made by the ‘proper officer’ dealing with the case and will be based on what information is discovered about the deceased.
At Mansfield and Ashfield if we believe that there may be next-of-kin that may come forward in the future such as sons or daughters then we may opt for burial, likewise if we find paperwork indicating that they wanted to be buried, suitable arrangements will be made. In either case an appropriate religious or non-religious ceremony will be arranged depending on the deceased’s beliefs (if we know what their beliefs were).
If we are satisfied that there are no objections to cremation being the method of disposal then we would opt for cremation. There is a requirement in cremation law that there must not be any objection to cremation and where possible all relevant persons must be informed.
At the crematorium a Public Health Funeral is just the same as any other funeral with a chapel service. Where possible the officiant who is taking the service will have been provided with information relating to the deceased’s history before the funeral so that they can make the service a personal one.
In the event that it is a burial a graveside service is normally held, this would be the same as any other graveside service apart from there would not be a gravestone to mark the grave.
In all cases family and friends are welcome to attend.

Provision of Public Health Funerals

As a Local Authority we have to ensure that we follow specific protocols when procuring services. The services of our appointed funeral director were obtained through a formal tendering process and our appointed funeral director will provide the following service:-

  • To collect the deceased from place of death (within Mansfield or Ashfield District Council’s geographic area) and return them to our funeral director’s Chapel of Rest .
  • To prepare the deceased and dress in a closed down gown
  • To place the deceased in a basic foil coffin, complete with lining, nameplate and handles that conforms to the requirements for cremation.
  • To provide a hearse to convey the deceased from their Chapel of Rest to a local crematorium/cemetery within the Mansfield or Ashfield District Council geographic region.
  • To provide sufficient bearers to convey the deceased safely from the hearse to the final place of disposal.

It is confirmed that should the service required be a cremation then it will be hearse direct to the crematorium with a simple service.
It is confirmed that should the service required be a burial then it will be a graveside service.

Additional to the above all disbursements will be paid by the funeral director (i.e. cremation/burial fees, medical fees, officiant’s fees, headstone removal and refix fees)
It is acknowledged that :-

  • there will be no viewing of the deceased by family/friends
  • there will be no direct contact with the family
  • that in the event that HM Coroner or Police require the body to be removed to a hospital/mortuary outside of the District Councils areas then this will be facilitated.
  • All instructions will be issued directly to the funeral director from either the

Crematorium Registrar or Deputy Registrar

  • It will be up to family and friends to provide flowers and their own transportation to the funeral.

Recovery of Expenses

Wherever possible the Council will recover expenses from the deceased’s estate to limit the cost to the taxpayer.
The following administration fees will be made and recovered from the estate

  • Administration fee with/without property search: £180.00
  • Cost of funeral – contract fee from Funeral Director and disbursements.

If there is not enough money in the deceased person’s estate to cover the administration costs a statement will have to be made. This will need to confirm what has been left in the deceased person’s estate (including money possessions and property) and the charges may not apply.

Why are graves dug so deep?

People often feel distressed at the prospect of seeing their loved ones coffin being buried so deep, however there are practical reasons and legal reasons for doing so.

Graves have to be dug to a sufficient depth to allow for future burials to take place. A grave needs to be deep enough to allow for the depth of the coffins/caskets that will be buried there. There are also legal requirements regarding the depth of undisturbed earth between each coffin and the amount of earth that must cover the last coffin.

Why are there so many different types of grave available at some cemeteries?

Some authorities have introduced a wide range of graves to give people as many options as possible when they have to arrange a burial. Within the cemeteries managed currently by Mansfield District Council we offer the following options:-

  • A traditional grave – this allows for a more traditional, elaborate and larger type of memorial often with full kerb surrounds. These graves are always dug to accommodate two interments.
  • A lawn style grave – this allows for a headstone at the head of the grave but in front is laid to lawn and no other memorial is permitted on the lawned area. This allows for ease of maintenance. These graves are always dug to accommodate two interments.
  • A woodland grave – set in a woodland setting, this type of grave encourages a more environmentally aware method of disposal whereby memorials on the grave are not permitted, the grave is dug to single depth only and the area is allowed to naturalise.
  • A cremated remains grave – generally a half sized grave that has room for a headstone/vase at the head of the grave only and the body of the grave is laid to lawn. This usually allows for a minimum of 4 sets of cremated remains to be interred.
  • Infants/children’s graves – these are located in an area specifically reserved for children and are of the lawn style grave, with a large area reserved at the head of the grave for personalisation,
  • Additional to the above we also permit bricked graves should families wish to have them, however additional time has to be allowed between booking the burial and the actual burial time to allow for the grave to be bricked. The bricking is usually an additional charge from your funeral director.
  • Some authorities also allow vaults and mausolea , or even burial above ground in a Catacomb

I have a lawn grave. Why can't I put a full memorial over the surface of the grave?

The lawn grave was designed on the war grave principle (to have only a memorial of limited size at the head of the grave with the rest of the grave laid to lawn). In this manner the limited area available for burial is best utilised. In addition maintenance is easier to accomplish with large mowing machinery being used to keep the area in a neat condition. These graves are sold on the understanding that only lawn style memorials are erected. Full memorials are only permitted on traditional graves in specified parts of the cemeteries. You would/will have been given the option of purchasing a traditional or lawn type grave at the time of your purchase.

Are graves filled in straight after a funeral or are they left to the next day?

Where possible we prefer not to dig a grave too far in advance of a burial, however sometimes this is not possible and in those instances are covered overnight. The ICCM Guiding Principles for Burial Services states that immediately after the mourners have departed the graveside, the grave shall be entirely back-filled and made tidy. This work is completed on the day of the burial and coffins should not be left uncovered overnight.

I understand that some people wait while the grave is filled in. Why is this?

Some cultures require that the grave is filled in while the family watch or they may wish to undertake the back-filling of the grave themselves. When families want this it is essential that the cemetery is made aware of their requirements when the burial is first arranged. This will ensure that the family's wishes are met and that their safety is protected during the back-filling process.

Can anyone witness the grave being filled?

Yes, but the cemetery will need to be advised of this before the funeral takes place so that they are prepared.

I've got a lawn grave. When will I be able to put a memorial onto it?

In cemeteries where continuous concrete foundations have been laid memorials can be erected on lawn graves, 'almost' immediately. Where individual foundations are provided for lawn memorials ideally these will be situated on ground at the head end of the grave that has not been disturbed. In these circumstances and with the use of ground anchors and fixings that comply with the National Association of Memorial Masons (NAMM) Recommended Code of Practice, it is still possible to erect a memorial almost immediately. This is the situation in the majority of circumstances in Mansfield District Council managed cemeteries, however this may not be the case in other authorities and so it is best to check with the authority you are dealing with. In cemeteries where the headstone is erected directly on the excavated area of the grave there may be a period stipulated in the cemetery regulations which gives the ground time to settle and consolidate. During this period the cemetery staff should monitor any sinking that becomes apparent and top up periodically with topsoil until settlement ceases. This period may differ around the country due to differing soil types and conditions. Even after settlement has ceased it is advisable to ensure that your memorial mason adopts the NAMM Code of Practice as mentioned above. In all Mansfield District Council managed cemeteries memorials have to be erected/have work undertaken on them by a stonemason who is on our ‘Approved List’ These are stonemasons who have declared that they are happy to abide by our Rules and Regulations, that they will conform to the method of fixing memorials specified by us (in accordance with NAMM Code of Practice) and have sufficient insurance cover.

Why have I only been sold the grave for a set period of time?

Local authorities are not authorised to sell the land in which the burial is to take place. Cemeteries law stipulates that only the exclusive right of burial in a grave can be sold. This right may be granted for a period of no more than 100 years. Some authorities restrict this right to as little as 25 years (50 years in Mansfield District Council’s area). The law does permit the period of right of burial to be added to and to be handed down the generations, so the grave can stay in the family for as long as they wish. However, ownership will never be issued for more than 100 years at any one time. Some authorities write to owners at appropriate intervals offering the opportunity to extend their right of burial. Even where this option to extend is not offered, the owner of the right of burial can renew the right at the end of the term. It is therefore very important that should you change address you let us know.

I own the grave - can anyone else be buried in it if I don't want them to?

No. Graves cannot be opened without the permission in writing of the registered owner of the right of burial. The only exception to this is where the burial is to be that of the registered owner. The law protects your rights as registered owner.

I am told the grave is for two people - there is only one person in the grave and I now want two more burials to take place in the grave.

When a grave is purchased to take two full body burials, the depth to which the grave is excavated for the first burial must take into account the need for the second burial. There are legal requirements as to how much earth must be left on top of the last coffin, and it is therefore not physically possible to put an extra coffin into the grave without breaking the law. However, after the grave is full for burial of coffins, cremated remains caskets or urns may still be buried within the grave.

What happens when the lease expires?

Exclusive right of burial in a grave is purchased for a set period of time. At the end of the period the purchaser is normally given the option of renewing the right for a further period. If you are the owner of a right of burial, it is most important that you keep the local authority fully informed of any change of address. Otherwise you may not receive a notice of renewal at the appropriate time. Right of burial often includes the right to have a memorial on the grave (sometimes the right to have a memorial is granted separately). At the end of the period of the right to have a memorial, the authority will attempt to make contact to offer the option to renew the right for a further period. If the owner cannot be contacted or simply chooses not to renew, the cemetery staff can lawfully remove any memorial following a set period of notice. Renewal of the right may be withheld pending a full inspection of the memorial and a stability test. Any defects found would have to be repaired.

Who is responsible for the memorial?

The owner of the right to have a memorial on a grave is responsible for maintaining it in a safe condition. However the burial authority is responsible for maintaining the cemetery as a whole as a safe place for the public to visit. If an owner fails to do this, the authority may take action to make a memorial safe without prior notification to the owner. Cemetery staff carry out routine inspections of memorials in the cemetery. When a memorial is identified as being unstable and there is a risk that it may fall and injure someone, it may be cordoned off, laid flat or have a temporary support installed depending on the circumstances. The authority will send a letter to the owner in these circumstances and it is then the owner’s responsibility to arrange suitable repair. If a memorial is still under guarantee, the memorial mason will be responsible for the repair at no extra cost to the owner. If the owner does not respond to the letter or if the letter is returned undelivered, the memorial may well be laid flat and when the right to have a memorial expires, renewal may not be granted until repairs are made. If the situation persists, the authority may choose to remove and destroy the memorial. Mansfield District Council has introduced a scheme for the registration of memorial masons. Memorial masons working in the Council's cemeteries agree to guarantee the quality of workmanship for any memorial installed by them during the period the scheme has been running.. A notification of their agreement of their method of fixing in compliance with the Code of Fixing Practice of the National Association of Memorial Masons is issued with every installation. All memorial masons must comply with the Rules and Standards laid down by the Council as part of the conditions of the registration scheme. A copy of the "Rules and Standards" is available to the public on request.

What happens if/when all the owners have died?

Ownership of the exclusive right of burial in a grave can be transferred via the owner's estate. The means of transfer can be very complex and while there is a set procedure to follow, each case must be looked at individually. If you need to transfer ownership contact the burial authority’s office where staff will arrange for a transfer to take place with due compliance with law.

Why can't I have what I want on the grave?

Ownership of right of burial on a grave is granted subject to the regulations that a local authority is legally entitled to impose as the provider of the burial ground. Regulations differ from authority to authority, between cemeteries within a single authority and between sections in a single cemetery. If you wish to purchase right of burial and there is a choice of location available, it is important that you select the situation that most suits your needs. Contacting the burial authority and make enquiries about the choices and options available.

Why is a permit for a memorial needed?

Prior to a memorial being erected on a grave space, the written authority of the owner of the grave must be given on a permit / application form, authorising the proposed erection of the memorial. Memorials must conform to cemetery regulations with regard to their size and the method of installation. The memorial also needs to be checked for stability under health and safety regulations in the future. Registration of the memorial ensures that the authority is aware of its presence. It also ensures that no one other than the owner of the right to have a memorial placed there can go ahead against their wishes.

I want to bury cremated remains into the grave. Are there any restrictions?

The law states that it is against the law to disturb human remains without licence (including cremated remains in a casket or urn), and therefore no further burials will be possible in the grave if there is any likelihood or remains being disturbed until a licence has been obtained. Cremated remains can be buried in the grave at full depth, in which case they will not be disturbed by further full body burials, but by having to excavate a grave to this depth there will be additional charges for opening the grave. As we do not usually bury or excavate in the area reserved for the headstone within Mansfield District Council cemeteries it may be possible to inter beneath the headstone area but this should be discussed with the cemeteries office prior to booking so that we are fully aware of your future requirements and can advise accordingly.

How many people use cremation today in Great Britain?

Since 1968 when the number of cremations exceeded burials for the first time, cremation has increased considerably. Current figures suggest that around 70% of all funerals are cremations.

Do any religious groups forbid cremation?

All current Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church, allow cremation, as do Sikhs, Hindus, Parsees and Buddhists. It is however forbidden by Orthodox Jews and Muslims.

Is cremation more expensive than burial?

No. Generally the cost of a grave is much higher than the fee charged for cremation (due to a grave having to be maintained for ‘x’ number of years beyond the actual burial date, whereas cremation does not have that requirement to the same degree) although the funeral charges are similar for both services. The only additional charge for cremation arises when the death has not been referred to a coroner and two doctors need to be paid for the necessary certificates. This does not apply to burial currently.

What religious ceremony can I have with cremation?

The service for burial and cremation is the same apart from the form of committal sentences. The service may take place at your own place of worship with a short committal service in the crematorium chapel, or you may have the whole service at the crematorium chapel. Alternatively, you may prefer a civil ceremony be conducted, or even no service at all. Some also prefer to hold a memorial service after the cremation where the cremated remains become the focus of the service.

How is a cremation arranged?

The Cremation Regulations are complex and many people approach a funeral director immediately death occurs, and advise him that they wish to arrange a cremation. The funeral director will ensure that all the necessary statutory forms for cremation are obtained and presented to the Crematorium.

Can a cremation be arranged without the services of a funeral director?

Yes. The Executor or nearest surviving relative may arrange the cremation service themselves and advice is available at the Crematorium.

Can relatives witness the committal of the coffin to the cremator?

Yes. The Crematorium must be informed that you wish to witness the committal when the cremation is booked. Staff are informed and will then make the necessary preparations on the day. It should be noted that individual crematoria may have different protocols relating to this mainly governed by the layout of their building. At Mansfield & District Crematorium we restrict viewing to a maximum of 6 persons.

Is the coffin cremated with the body

Yes. The Code of Cremation Practice requires that the coffin be placed in the cremator in exactly the same condition as that in which it was received at the Crematorium. Crematorium regulations require that the coffin and all its fittings and furnishings be made from materials suitable for cremation. The Environmental Protection Act 1990 has placed a new responsibility on Cremation Authorities to ensure that the process is completed under controlled conditions which will minimise the impact on the environment. In these circumstances it will be necessary for any items included in the coffin for presentation or viewing purposes to be removed by the Funeral Director before the coffin is conveyed to the Crematorium.

How soon after the service will the cremation take place?

Under normal circumstances the cremation is usually carried out shortly after the service and certainly on the same day. The only exceptions to this are in the case of an emergency or as a planned procedure (occasionally a request is made for a service to take place prior to completion of the legal documentation and the cremation will be carried out at a later date). If the cremation does not take place on the day of the service the person who applied for the cremation is kept fully informed.

Can I personalise the funeral service ?

We actively encourage families/friends to make the funeral service of their loved one as personal as they like. We have an extremely extensive music system and are able to source most music that is legally and currently available (excluding that that only appears via youtube of mp3 downloads). We also have bespoke Copeman Hart organs in both our chapels which provide a beautiful sound to accompany any singing. We encourage the use of soloists (vocal or musical), video presentations and have magnetic photostands for use within the chapel for photos of your loved on. We often have dove or balloon releases following a series, which is very symbolic (unfortunately we cannot allow Chinese lanterns as we are surrounded by trees and potentially it could put the building and woodland at risk).

How are cremated remains kept separate?

A cremator can only accept one coffin at a time and all the remains are removed from the cremator before the next cremation. An identity card is used throughout the whole process until the final disposal, thereby ensuring correct identification.

What happens to the cremated remains after cremation?

The law relating to cremation requires that cremated remains are disposed of in accordance with the written instructions of the applicant (usually the executor or nearest surviving relative). At Mansfield & District Crematorium they can be strewn in the woodland to the rear of the building in specially designated areas of the Garden of Remembrance, either as a witnessed appointment or with no-one present, in an area where a previous friend/member of the family has been scattered or not. The remains may also be removed from the crematorium for disposal elsewhere (favourite place, cemetery, churchyard etc –please note you should obtain the owner of the lands permission to carry this out) or retained by the client. At Mansfield & District Crematorium we usually only release cremated remains to your funeral director as he will know which member of the family he is dealing with – this hopefully ensures that the correct person receives them . In exceptional circumstances we will release to family but only by prior arrangement and with the person who is to collect them being introduced to us beforehand and providing relevant forms of identification. Occasionally we may be asked to forward the cremated remains to an address in the United Kingdom – this we will do, at cost, by courier.

Can more than one body be cremated at a time?

No, each cremation is carried out separately. The aperture through which the coffin passes into the cremator and the cremation chamber are of dimensions that will only safely accept one coffin. However, exceptions can be made in the case of a mother and baby or small twin children who can be accommodated within one coffin, so long as the next of kin or executor has made this specific request.

Can I visit a crematorium and see what happens behind the scenes?

Yes. Visits are encouraged however we would ask that you make an appointment to ensure that a senior member of staff is available to escort you and explain the process to you. The visit may take place whilst cremations are taking place or when not; the choice is yours This open door policy helps to dispel the myths that have been explained above. On seeing the cremation process the viewer can be reassured that all cremations take place individually, coffins are cremated with the deceased and that identity is maintained throughout the process so that a family can be sure that they receive the correct cremated remains. For groups arrangements it would depend on the numbers involved as obviously we need to ensure we have space to work and cause no disruption to funeral services. Larger groups may have to be accommodated either in the evening or at a weekend by prior arrangement. The Director & Registrar frequently talks to groups of trainee officiants/ ministers, nursing home staff and funeral directing staff about the procedures at the crematorium and is always happy to discuss these further.


What is Probate and Do I Need It?

Probate is often very misunderstood and conjures up images of months of difficulty and delay in getting it resolved. This is not inevitable and quite often many acts of probate are very simple and easily executed, often within several weeks.

What is Probate?

In its simplest form probate is a simple document, nothing more, issued by the Probate Registry confirming that an executor has the right to wind up an estate of the person who has died. The 'estate' is the house, money and savings left by someone when they pass away. The 'executor' is the person chosen in the Will to sort out the estate and make sure it goes to the people named in the Will.

Do I have to have Probate?

This depends upon the size of the estate. Quiet often, when the estate is very small no probate is needed.

How do I get Probate?

By filling in some forms. If the estate is small the forms do not have to give full details of it. The important form is the 'Executors Oath'. This is not usually available from stationery shops but can be found in books about probate. It has to be sworn as being true. For more information on Probate, including application forms, fees etc, visit the website of the Probate Service at


Do I have to use a solicitor?

No, but it does help as they know exactly how the probate system works and can make the process easier to understand at what is already a stressful time. You can also apply direct to the Probate Registry yourself. Most solicitors offer probate services and their fees depend upon the amount of work necessary and the size of the estate. Always ask them first.


A will is a legal document which gives the wishes of the deceased.

In order for a will to be valid, it must be:-

  • made by a person who is 18 years old or over; and
  • made voluntarily and without pressure from any other person; and
  • made by a person who is of sound mind. This means that she/he is fully aware of the nature of the document s/he is writing or signing and aware of her/his property and the identify of the people who may inherit; and in writing; and
  • signed by the person making the will in the presence of two witnesses; and § signed by the two witnesses, in the presence of the person making the will, after s/he has signed. A witness or the married partner of a witness cannot benefit from a will. If a witness is a beneficiary (or the married partner of a beneficiary), the will is still valid but the beneficiary will not be able to inherit under the will.

Although it will be legally valid even if it is not dated, it is advisable to ensure that the will also includes the date on which it is signed. As soon as the will is signed and witnessed, it is complete.

What do I do if there is no Will?

Speak to a solicitor - it is safer in the long run because various laws affect who is entitled to wind up the estate and receive the money.


If you have any difficulty in dealing with the deceased's property, possessions or guardianship of their children, get advice from a solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau as soon as possible. These places also hold a list of local solicitors which shows whether they take legal aid cases and if they specialise in probate work. You can also search for solicitors in local telephone directories such as yell.com or through the Legal Aid Agency.

Many solicitors are prepared to offer up to half an hour of legal advice for a small fee, some even offer a free initial consultation to discuss your situation.


If the person who died was paying tax on income from investments or as a self employed person or as an employee, tell the tax office about the death as soon as possible. This will enable the deceased's tax affairs to be settled. Depending on circumstances, this may involve some more tax or claiming a repayment.

The particular tax office to contact will depend upon the deceased's circumstances. For instance:

  • if the deceased was an employee or had a pension from a former employer, the pay section of the employer or pension organisation will know the deceased's tax office.
  • if the deceased was self-employed, contact he tax office nearest to the place of business.
  • if the deceased was unemployed, or retired without pension from a former employer, contact the tax office nearest to the home address.

Further Information is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs/contact/bereavement-and-deceased-estate