General Article Your legal rights and responsibilities

Topic Selected: Bereavement
This article is 9 years old. Click here to view the latest articles for this topic.

Who’s in charge?

There’s no law that says you have to have a funeral.

But there is a law that says you must dispose of the body of the person who has died ‘by burial, cremation or any other means’ (Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953).

The law views a dead body as a potential health hazard and it enables one or more people to take possession of a dead body for the sole purpose of disposing of it. Note that word ‘possession’. Possessing a dead body is not the same as owning it. No one owns a dead body. No one owns a living body, either. You do not own your own body; you are not allowed to offer your organs for sale.

Certain people have a prior right to possess a dead body so long as they undertake to dispose of it. If you have the right to take possession of a dead body then you have the right do so at once without having to produce any documentation.


What does this mean?

The person with the right to possess the body has the right to take possession as soon as death happ...

Would you like to see the rest of this article and all the other benefits that Issues Online can provide with?

Sign up now for an immediate no obligation FREE TRIAL and view the entire collection