What To Do When Someone Dies
Our guide about what to do when someone dies has been put together to help people know what to do when the time comes. Knowing what to do first can ease stress at an already difficult time.
What To Do First
When a person dies there are four main steps that must be followed. These are:
- Obtaining a medical certificate of the cause of death so you can register the death
- Registering the death
- Obtaining a certificate to authorise the burial or cremation
- Making funeral arrangements
Obtaining a Medical Certificate
The medical certificate will record the cause of death. You must have a medical certificate in order to register the death with the local authority. The circumstances under which a person has died can influence who issues the certificate and when you receive it.
The Death Occurred At Home
If the death occurred at home and the cause of death is clear and not open to investigation, the attending doctor will be able to issue the medical certificate.
The Death Occurred At A Hospital Or In A Nursing Home
Similarly to if a person died at home, as long as there are no mitigating circumstances and the cause of death is clear, the attending doctor will be able to issue the medical certificate
When The Coroner Becomes Involved
If the death was unexpected, sudden or happened under suspicious circumstances the doctor may need to report the death to the coroner. The coroner will arrange for the deceased to be transported to the hospital mortuary to establish the cause of death. The coroner may instruct an inquest into the death. Once the coroner has recorded the cause of death, the medical certificate will be issued.
Registering The Death
Once you are in possession of the medical certificate that states the cause of death, you must visit the registry office to record the death. In England and Wales, the death must be registered within 5 days. If you live in Scotland the death must be registered within 8 days. It is important to note that the death needs to be registered at the local Registry Office in the district where the death took place.
If the coroner has become involved then the mitigating circumstances may mean you cannot register the death within the timescales outlined above. If this happens, we advise notifying the Registry Office of the circumstances. Once HM Coroner issues the death certificate you will be able to register the death.
Certificate For Burial Or Cremation
When you register the death, the registrar will issue the certificate to authorise the cremation or burial. This form is also known as a ‘green form’. As soon as you are in possession of the green form, you must pass it to us so we can begin to make the funeral arrangements with you.
Making Funeral Arrangements
Once we are in possession of the certificate to authorise the burial or cremation, the funeral arrangements can be finalised. We will consult with you regarding the funeral planning and confirm the date of the ceremony. The planning consultation can take place at our premises or we can visit your home if you prefer.
If your loved one was in possession of a Funeral Plan, then the funeral arrangements will have already been instructed and the funeral will be carried out according to the pre-agreed Funeral Plan.