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When someone dies

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

Issuing a death certificate

If 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 is can 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.

Registering a death

When the doctor gives you the medical certificate, they will also provide information about who is eligible to register the death – which must be done within five days.  To do this you need to contact the local registrar or Births, Deaths and Marriage 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 he 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.

Informing organisations who need to know

Most local councils run a service called Tell Us Once – it 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 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

Organising a funeral

Once 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 the loved on might have specified, timing and budget.

Most people chose 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
  • Transfer of the deceased person from the place of death, and care of them 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.

You don’t have to use a funeral director if you don’t want to – you can have a ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) funeral. DIY funerals can be less expensive and more personal and intimate, although you will have more to organise.  You will need to contact your local council if you want to arrange a funeral in your local cemetery or crematorium.

Several of our members have shared their experiences of losing a loved one, see the blogs written about dealing with the death of a parent or organising a father’s funeral.