In deciding whether it is reasonable for you or your partner to have accepted responsibility for funeral expenses, Social Security Scotland looks at whether there is a closer relative of the person who has died. It also considers any other relevant factors, such as whether closer relatives were estranged from the person who has died.
If an adult has died, in deciding whether there is a closer relative, the following order of hierarchy is used:
- the spouse or civil partner, unless they were permanently separated at the time of the death
- living with the adult as if they were married to each other for least 6 months (or if the adult was in hospital before death, had been living together for six months when the adult was admitted to hospital)
- the adult’s child
- the adult’s parent
- the adult’s brother or sister
- the adult’s grandparent
- the adult’s grandchild
- the adult’s uncle or aunt
- the adult’s cousin
- the adult’s niece or nephew
- a friend of long standing of the adult
If a child has died in deciding whether there is a closer relative, the following order of hierarchy is used:
- the child’s parent or another person who had parental rights and responsibilities for the child (but not a local authority)
- the child’s brother or sister
- the child’s grandparent
- the child’s uncle or aunt
- the child’s cousin
- the child’s niece or nephew
- a friend of long standing of the child
Usually, it will be reasonable for the person who has the closest family relationship to the person who has died to take responsibility for the funeral expenses. But there are other circumstances, such as estrangement, which may be relevant and may mean that you are entitled even if there is a closer family member.
If there is another family member at the same level on the table of hierarchy, but no one above you, Social Security Scotland should accept that it is reasonable for you to accept responsibility without looking at that other person's circumstances.
If more than one person applies for a funeral support payment, the application of the person who is the closest relative will be looked at first. If that person is entitled, then the other person cannot be entitled. If more than one person applies, they are equally close relatives to the person who has died and they cannot decide whose application should proceed, Social Security Scotland will decide.
If you are unhappy with a decision which Social Security Scotland makes about you application you can challenge this decision.