Although death is obviously a certainty, most of us are not sure what do when it actually happens. There are a few important steps to take when someone dies and this short article will give you a broad outline of priorities and where to go for information. Be assured that there is lots of help available.
When someone dies a doctor should be called to issue a certificate stating the cause of death, along with a document outlining who is eligible to register the death. If your parent or loved one is in a nursing home, the Doctor will probably already have been called and you may have had some initial conversations about what to do next.
Registering a death
Depending on the circumstances, there may have to be an inquest. The doctor will send a report of the cause of death to the coroner who will decide. This is not something to worry about, although it sounds alarming. In any event, you should contact the registrar and make an appointment to register the death. – which must be done within five days by contacting the local registrar. Dorset County Council’s website, DorsetforYou has a list of registrars as well as other useful information. Don’t delay to do this, because registrars are very busy. You may have to wait a week or more to get an appointment and possibly travel to a register office some miles away.
The registrar can provide several copies of the death certificate and will also provide a ‘green form’ which should be given to the funeral director so he can collect the deceased from the mortuary.
Organisations you need to contact
Dorset County Council (like most other local councils) runs a service called Tell Us Once – it will enable you to report death to most government organisations in one go. The registrar will tell you about using Tell Us Once and give you a unique reference number to access the service online or by phone. The following information is required to register:
- Date of birth
- 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).
Tell Us Once will notify:
- HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
- Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
- DVLA and the Passport Office
- The Local Council
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
You also need to notify the solicitor, who may hold a copy of the will, or find the will if you or a sibling have it. If your parent or loved one had shares, it will be necessary to get a valuation for probate. You can find out more about probate in our Age Space Podcast episode with Jason Butler. If there is a house or flat to be sold, this can be left until after the funeral, but the solicitor will be able to advise and help you on all these matters.
You might be interested to read a really lovely blog on organising a funeral; or how to deal with grief. Julia Samuel MBE is a specialist bereavement counsellor and we had the pleasure of interviewing her a while back and this is what she had to say about grief.