What to Do When Someone Dies

There are various things that you will need to do when someone dies, many will apply in all circumstances, while others may depend on when, where and how your loved one died.

As there is a lot to deal with, you may find it helpful to ask someone close to you to do some things – such as letting people know what’s happened – for you.

When someone dies at home

Contact the person’s GP or family doctor straight away; they will come to the house as soon as possible. When they have established a cause of death they will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (Form 11). It is not always possible for them to issue this immediately, in which case they will let you know when it can be collected from their surgery.

When someone dies suddenly or unexpectedly

If this happens a report may need to be sent to the Procurator Fiscal. If this is the case, please don’t worry, it’s not uncommon and can happen for many reasons – for example the person had not seen their doctor recently.

In some cases the police may be involved as well. We understand that this can be distressing, but it’s part of normal procedures and is nothing to be concerned about.

When someone dies in hospital or in a nursing home

The sister-in-charge will take care of things such as arranging for a Medical Certificate and making arrangements for you to collect it. If you know that your loved one wished to be cremated, let the staff involved know as soon as you can, as they will need to arrange certain paperwork for you.

Contact your Funeral Director

We can be contacted at any time of the day or night, so please get in touch with us as soon as you feel able to. You do not have to wait for the Medical Certificate, although this will be needed later on.

We will ask you certain standard questions about you, your loved one and where they died when you first contact us. We can also answer any questions that you may have and, should you wish, advise you on what you need to do next.

Contact the Registrar

Once you have the Medical Certificate, you will need to register the death. This needs to be done before the funeral can take place.

Other organisations you need to get in touch with

Contact the person’s solicitor as soon as you can, especially if you think that their will may contain information about the type of funeral they wished to have.

There will be many companies and organisations that you will need to contact and you may find it easier to ask a friend or family member to help you with this. Many of the people you need to contact will request a copy of the Death Certificate so that they can handle things appropriately and to avoid confusion later on.
Here are some of the organisations you will need to contact:

  • Their current employers
  • Their bank, building society and/or credit union
  • Their insurance company
  • The companies that supply their gas and/or electricity
  • Their credit and store card companies
  • Their pension provider
  • The Inland Revenue
  • The companies that provide their phone and broadband (including mobile phones)
  • Their landlord or mortgage provider
  • Their dentist
  • The local authority that they pay Council Tax to
  • The DWP
  • TV Licensing

You will also need to contact any clubs or organisations that they were a member of – as well as the practicalities of cancelling membership, it is likely that people who knew them such groups may wish to pay their respects.

You will also need to get in touch with any companies that they may owe money to or have hired/rented something from, and any organisations that may have provided support services to them (home helps, carers etc.).

If they had any holidays booked you will need to contact the travel agents or airlines involved and make cancellations.

Letting friends and family know

When you have contacted close friends and family, you may wish to let colleagues, associates and others know about the funeral arrangements. An obituary or death notice is an easy way to do this and is something that we can arrange on your behalf.

Registering the death

You will need to register the death at the local Registrar’s Office before the funeral can take place. There is certain information that they will need from you, which we have listed below.

Many people find registering the death particularly difficult and upsetting, so you may wish to ask someone to go with you. If a friend or family member cannot go with you and you are worried about going alone, speak to us and we will arrange for someone to be with you.

The Registrar will need the following information:

  • Their full name, occupation and postal address
  • The name and address of their doctor
  • Their date and country of birth
  • The full name and occupation of their father and the full name and maiden name of their mother
  • Whether they received a pension or an allowance from public funds
  • The full name, occupation and date of birth of their surviving widow, widower or civil partner (if applicable)
  • The Registrar will need the following documents:
  • The Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death (Form 11)
  • Their National Health Service medical card
  • Their birth certificate
  • Their marriage or civil partnership certificate

The Registrar will then give you:

  • A Certificate of Registration of Death (Form 14) – you will need to give this to us so that the funeral can go ahead
  • A Social Security registration or notification of death certificate for use in obtaining or adjusting Social Security benefits
  • An abbreviated extract of the death entry

You may need a full extract of the death entry to get information about assets such as insurance policies, savings, pensions and other financial accounts – the Registrar can supply these for a fee of £10 each.

Whilst the above gives an indication of what you can usually expect, there may be case – for example if the death has been referred to the Procurator Fiscal – when the process may differ. In such instances, we will guide you through what happens and what you need to do.