What to do after someone dies

What to do when someone dies

It can be difficult to keep on top of the practical side of death. When someone dies, there are certain steps to follow and while a death needs to be registered, there are other documents that need tackling first. Whether it’s the apparently endless paperwork or you’re feeling overwhelmed as to where to start, here’s a quick run through of what you’ll need to sort out when someone dies.

Get a Medical Certificate explaining the cause of death

You’ll first need a medical certificate of the cause of death before you can register a death. If the person died at home, you’ll need to contact their GP or the nearest doctor.

If the person died unexpectedly, and the doctor is unclear about the cause of death, they will then contact a coroner. You can’t register the death until the coroner supplies supporting documents. Though, you’ll be able to get a temporary document outlining the circumstances so that funeral arrangements can begin.

If the person dies in hospital, then the dedicated bereavement staff will give you what you need.

Register the death and get the Death Certificate

After you’ve got a medical certificate, you can register a death. Someone’s death should usually be registered within 5 days in England and Wales, or 10 days in Scotland. Delays due to a coroner’s report are not counted.

To register a death you’ll need give in the medical certificate to a registry office near to where the person has died. You may need to call ahead to make an appointment as registering can take up to half an hour. 

After the essential medical certificate, it’s useful to also bring with you confirmation of the person’s birth date, proof of address and details of any pensions or benefits they were receiving. You’ll also need to bring two forms of identification for yourself. This can either be your birth certificate, council tax bill, driving licence, proof of address or passport.

After registering someone’s death you’ll get a Death Certificate, as well as a Certificate of Burial or Cremation (known as a Green Form). You will have to pay a small fee for the Death Certificate, starting at around £4. Now you’re able to get on with putting the funeral arrangements into place.

Get on with arranging the funeral  

After you’ve got the Death Certificate, the funeral arrangements can really get going. For many, this will involve contacting a funeral director. You needn’t wait for the Death Certificate to be issued in order to start planning, though.

Funeral directors are there to make sure the process is as straightforward as possible. When choosing a funeral director you should compare ones nearest to you. It may be worthwhile to check if the funeral director you’ve chosen is a member of the National Association for Funeral Directors (NAFD) or the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF). 

After someone dies, the to do list can seem overwhelming. But, it’s a case of swiftly getting through the necessary documents and appointments and on to the meaningful stuff.

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