23.15As we described above, it is important for the grieving process for families to have a central role in post-death decisions even if the deceased person has appointed a decision-maker. We described a role for family members as decision-makers in Chapter 22. Here, we analyse whether and how the views of family members other than the decision-maker should be taken into consideration.
23.18This applies to all decision-makers such that, if a particular family member assumes responsibility for the funeral arrangements, that person should be required to take account of the preferences of other family members who also wish to be involved in making decisions (with relative weight depending on the strength of the relationship).
23.19We have considered whether a representative should be under an active obligation to seek out family members’ views in order to take them into account or under a passive obligation to consider views that are expressed to him or her. While it seems reasonable to require a representative to get as many views as possible prior to exercising the decision, on the other hand, that can be an onerous time-consuming responsibility, and in any event, family members can be expected to come forward with their views on the matter. The major concern with an active duty to seek out family members’ views is delay.
23.20We consider a middle ground is possible. The deceased’s representative should be under a duty to seek out the views of family members to the extent that he or she judges to be reasonably practicable in the time available. Particular priority should be given to obtaining the views of any spouse.
23.21If the deceased’s representative is a family member of the deceased, he or she is entitled to take his or her own wishes into account as well as those of the wider family but must do so within his or her capacity as an appointee who is exercising specific statutory rights and duties. We recommend below that guidance be made available to people acting in this role, and it could address how to balance one’s personal interests against the demands of the role.
R116 A person making decisions relating to funeral arrangements, disposal of the body or how any remains should be dealt with must take account of any views of the family. In particular, that person must seek out the views of family members to the extent that he or she considers is practicable in the time available, giving particular priority to obtaining the view of any spouse. That person must give preference to the views of those people closest to the deceased person, particularly any spouse.