What to do first
If someone dies at home the family doctor and nearest relative should be contacted immediately. If the death was expected the doctor will give you a Medical Certificate showing the cause of death. The doctor will also give you a Formal Notice that states that they have signed the Medical Certificate and tells you how to get the death registered. If the person is to be cremated two doctors must sign the Certificate‚ but this can be done later.
If the person dies in hospital the hospital staff will contact the next of kin. The body will usually be kept in the hospital mortuary until the funeral directors or relative arrange a chapel of rest or for the body to be taken home. Hospital staff will arrange for the nearest relative to collect the deceased person’s possessions. A Medical Certificate and Formal Notice will be issued‚ as described above.
If someone dies unexpectedly or the family doctor has not seen the person within 14 days prior to the death‚ the death is reported to the coroner. The coroner is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating unexpected deaths
Arranging a funeral
Do not make funeral arrangements until you are sure that the death does not have to be reported to the coroner as this could affect the date when the funeral can be held.
You should be aware that the deceased may have left instructions in their will or a letter about their wishes. There may be an organ donor card or request for their body to be given for medical research. You should also check whether they had paid into a funeral plan to cover some or all of the costs. If there is no will or instructions the next of kin should decide what to do.
If you arrange the funeral‚ you are responsible for paying the bill, so first check where the money will come from and whether it will be enough. Most funeral directors will wait until probate has been granted or funds are released from the deceased person’s bank account.
Arranging a funeral - more information
Organisations to contact
You will need to contact a wide variety of organisations to inform them of the death. Here are just some of those you may need to contact. You may have to send them a death certificate:
- Building society
- Children's school or childcare provider
- Council tax
- Credit card companies
- Hospital clinics
- Insurance companies (including car insurance)
- Income tax
- Landlord or local housing department
- Life assurance
- Pension plans
- Post Office
- Premium Bond Office / National Savings & Investments
- Private health care provider
- Social Services
- The Benefits Agency
- Utilities (gas, electricity, water, telephone, internet service provider)
For more information of the people and organisations you may need to contact you can visit:
Death and Bereavement (GOV.UK website)
Tel: 020 3876 8806