What to do when someone dies

22nd January 2019

There are a number of practical tasks that need to be addressed shortly after the death, such as registering the death, informing people who are close to the deceased, closing down accounts and cancelling payments.

To make this easier we have created a short list of the necessary steps to help you through this time.

Registering a death

When the doctor gives you the medical certificate, they will also provide information about who is eligible to register the death, this must be done within five days. To register a death, you need to contact your local registrar to arrange a death certificate.  The registrar will provide you with a death certificate and will also provide a “green form” which should be given to the funeral director, so they can collect the deceased from the mortuary if they died in hospital.

AdobeStock 82132782 CopyThe registrar will provide additional copies of the death certificate for use when informing other organisations.

When someone dies at home: In the first instance, call the family doctor and nearest relative. If it was expected, the doctor will provide you with a medical certificate showing the cause of death and a formal notice saying that they have signed the medical certificate with instructions on how to register the death. If the person is to be cremated, two certificates are necessary, signed by different doctors (this is can be arranged by the uneral director)

If someone dies in hospital: The hospital will take care of issuing the medical certificate and formal notice.

When someone dies unexpectedly: If the family doctor hasn’t seen the patient in the last 14 days, the death must be reported to a coroner.  A coroner is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating unexpected deaths. They may call for a post-mortem or inquest, which may take some time, so the funeral may need to be delayed.

Informing organisations who need to know

Most local councils run a service called Tell Us Once which allows you to report a death to most government organisations in one go. The registrar will give you a unique reference number to access the service online or by phone. The following information is required to register:

  • Date of birthAdobeStock 117448023
  • National insurance number
  • Driving licence number
  • Passport number
  • Details of any benefits or entitlements such as State Pension
  • Details of any local council services eg Blue Badge
  • Name and address of next of kin
  • Name, address and contact details of the person or company dealing with their estate – their Executor/Administrator (you will need their permission to provide their details)

Others you will need to notify:

  • Company pensions/personal pension providers
    Banks and building societies (including joint accounts)
  • Company registrars of shareholdings
  • Credit card companies
  • Doctor’s surgery and hospital attended by the deceased
  • Insurance companies

Organising a Funeral

AdobeStock 11357007 1Once the death certificate has been issued, the funeral service can be arranged.  Funerals come in many shapes and sizes and its very much a personal choice depending on what your parent wished for, timing and budget.

Most people choose to use the services of a funeral director.  It is sensible to choose one who’s a member of either The National Association of Funeral Directors or the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors.   Get a quote, so you know what is included in their services, you don’t want any surprises.

Normally this will include:

  • The funeral director’s services
  • Your parent’s transfer from the place of death
  • The care of your parent before the funeral
  • A hearse to the nearest crematorium or cemetery
  • All necessary arrangements and paperwork

There may be extra charges for crematorium and cemetery fees, embalming and flowers.

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