What to do When Someone Dies
We understand that the death of a loved one can be an overwhelming time. There are many steps to take and people to inform. Knowing what to do when a death occurs can help you handle the situation in a logical and efficient manner and save you from further distress. Our helpful guide below details what do when someone dies and who you need to inform.
What to do First When a Person Dies
When a person dies there are several steps to be completed before you can plan their funeral. They include:
- Obtaining the medical certificate of the cause of death
- Registering the death
- Obtaining the certificate for burial or cremation (green form)
- Making funeral arrangements
How to Obtain a Medical Certificate
The medical certificate is essential as it records the cause of death. This certificate is required so you can register the death with the local authority (where the death occurred). The location where the person died will influence who can issue the certificate and when you will receive it.
When the Person Dies at Home
If the person died at home and the cause of death is clear and did not occur under suspicious circumstances, the attending doctor will be able to issue the medical certificate.
When a Person Dies in Hospital or a Nursing Home
When a person dies at hospital or within a nursing home, as long as the cause of death is within normal circumstances, the attending doctor will be able to issue the medical certificate.
What Happens if a Coroner Becomes Involved?
If a person dies suddenly and the death was not expected, the doctor may need to report the death to the coroner.
If the death occurred under suspicious circumstances, the doctor will be obliged to report the death to the coroner and the police will also become involved.
When the coroner is notified of the death, they will arrange for the deceased to be taken to the hospital mortuary. This is so the cause of death can be established. If the circumstances warrant an investigation into the death, the coroner will order an inquest. Once the cause of death has been established the medical certificate will be issued.
How to Register a Death
You can register a death once you are in possession of the medical certificate. To register the death, you must visit the registry office in the local authority where the death occurred. In England and Wales, the law states that the death must be registered within 5 days. If you live in Scotland, then the death must be registered within the following 8 days.
If the coroner has become involved, you may not be able to obtain the medical certificate within the time frame stated above. When this happens, we recommend that you notify the registry office as soon as possible outlining the reason why you cannot register the death within in the normal timescale. As soon as the coroner issues the death certificate you can arrange to register the death.
Funeral Director Duties
- When you inform us of the death, we will arrange for your loved one to be transported in a private ambulance to our chapel of rest
- We will take care of the body and you will have the opportunity for family viewings
- We will consult with you to arrange the funeral plans and the associated costs
- If your loved one had taken out a funeral plan, the plan may cover some or all of the costs
- On the day of the funeral we transport your loved one to either the crematorium, church or natural burial ground