What to do when someone dies in Dorset

What to do when someone dies in Dorset

When someone dies it’s not the easiest subject to talk about and one most of us don’t want to even think about.   It’s a sad and emotional time.   However, there are some practical tasks that need to happen.

To make this time easier we have put together all the information you need on what do when someone dies in Dorset.

Obtaining a death certificate

When someone dies at home – 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 will be arranged by the funeral director).

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

If someone dies unexpectedly – or the family doctor hasn’t seen them in the last 14 days, the death is 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. Details of the Dorset Coroner’s Office can be found here.

Registering a death in Dorset

You will need to register the death, which ideally must be done within five days.  To do this you need to contact the local registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriage where the death occurred to arrange a death certificate.

Here are details of Dorset’s Registration Offices. You can arrange an appointment to register a death in Dorset online here.

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.

The registrar can provide additional copies of the death certificate for use when informing other organisations.

Arranging a funeral in Dorset

Organising the funeral of loved ones can be daunting, but it’s important to get it right and in a way that befits their memory. 

These days there are many different types of funeral and some people chose to mark the death of their loved one with a service of celebration of their life. You may find our Guide to Funeral Planning useful.

Most people still engage the services of a funeral director, usually one based nearby. You may want to choose a firm that is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) or the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF).

Informing organisations who need to know

Dorset councils run a Tell Us Once service which lets you report a 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 e.g. 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 still 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

Help and support for the bereaved

Everyone needs some support when a loved one dies and in Dorset you can find help from Dorset Council’s info and advice section.

My Life My Care has a guide to bereavement services in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole area while Cruse Bereavement Care has a local Dorset hub.

Mind Dorset has put together a list of organisations dealing with issues following a bereavement. Poole Hospital and Dorset County Hospital also have bereavement services in place.

Our section on Dealing with Death and Grief shares useful advice that we have learned when times are tough.

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