Organ Donation: The New Opt-Out System

Do you know that from Spring 2020, the law is changing so that all adults will be considered to be an organ donor when they die unless they have recorded a decision not to donate or are an excluded group?

(The excluded group are people under the age of 18, those who have lost mental capacity and those who have lived in England for less than 12 months.)

This new policy is called the ‘opt out’ system. It was introduced in Wales in 2016 and applies in England from Spring 2020, (actual date to be confirmed). If you do not wish to be an organ donor then you will have to opt-out by registering on the NHS Organ Donor Register.

If you have opted-out of organ donation then this decision should form a part of your funeral wishes.

When we take Will instructions we encourage our clients to think about their funeral wishes. Some clients do not have any funeral wishes, while others have detailed requests.

Sometimes a Will is not read until after a funeral so do make sure that your nearest and dearest know if you have specific wishes.

So, what are funeral wishes? These are your wishes in relation to:

  • The type of service you would prefer; for example, a Christian service or a humanist ceremony. Who should be invited to the service, whether you would like mourners to bring flowers or make a charitable donation. Sometimes people consider what songs or music should be played.
  • The type of ceremony to dispose of your body; for example, burial, natural burial in a woodland plot or cremation. If you wish to be cremated, you may wish to consider if there is a place that you would like your ashes to be scattered.

Legally, your Executors have responsibility for your funeral arrangements and we suggest that you advise them either by recording your wishes in a written ‘Letter of Instruction’ or by discussing it directly with them.

We will discuss your funeral wishes with you as part of your instructions when you make a Will. If you have specific concerns or requests, you can discuss them directly with us and we can provide you with tailored advice.

Vanessa Ruparel is a Solicitor in the Private Client team who specialises in this area, you can contact her on 0118 958 9711 or

Further Reading:

Long Delays in the Probate Registry

Windfall for the Ex-Carer of an Elderly Widow

Abuse of Powers of Attorney Reaches Record Levels

J.R.R. Tolkien and Literary Executors


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