What to do when someone dies

What to do when someone dies

It is perfectly normal to be unsure what to do following a bereavement. We are here for you at the end of a phone for support and guidance. Contact your local branch or you can call us out-of-hours on 0800 028 48 08.

If you’re not yet ready to speak to someone, our funeral builder service will help with your thought process and give you an idea of the prices involved.

Though procedures vary throughout the UK, the following information should also offer you guidance:

To download everything you need to know about what to do when someone dies, contact us for a booklet or download an e-version here

First contact should be with the deceased’s doctor who will issue a Medical Certificate of Death. In some cases you may be asked to collect the certificate from the surgery. In the case of a nursing home death, their staff should liaise with the doctor. For sudden death at home, inform both the doctor and the local police.

Contact us: After you have informed the doctor.

The nursing staff will arrange for a doctor to issue the Medical Certificate of Death which you will need to collect, along with any belongings, from the hospital bereavement office. You should advise the bereavement staff if the funeral is likely to be a cremation or burial.

Contact us: As soon as you are ready to make the funeral arrangements.

Notify the police or an emergency doctor. They will, in turn, inform a Coroner. It is normal for a Coroner to be involved as they are automatically contacted if the deceased hasn’t been under a doctor’s care on a regular basis.

Contact us: As soon as possible. We can advise further, and even liaise with the Coroner’s office for you.

If the worst happens whilst abroad or away from home, there will be extra measures to take. A local doctor will need to be contacted to provide a Death Certificate and there may be extra procedures relevant to the country involved that should be observed. Once you have collected the Death Certificate then you can begin the necessary arrangements to bring the deceased home. If they are abroad then the procedure is known as repatriation.  Check their travel insurance to see if they are covered.

Contact us: As soon as possible. We will help with the various processes involved, and provide some much needed guidance. We can also make the necessary arrangements to bring the deceased straight into our care ready to help plan the funeral.

The death of every person in England and Wales must be registered by the Registrar of Births and Deaths, and is usually done by a relative of the deceased. This can be done at any registry office, irrelevant of where death occurred, and an appointment should be made within five days of death occurring. This is also required for stillbirth.

The Registrar will require the following information:

  • The date and place of death
  • The deceased’s first name, surname, and maiden name where appropriate
  • The deceased’s date and location of birth
  • The postal address of the deceased
  • If they were in receipt of a pension or allowance from public funds
  • If the deceased was married, and the date and place of birth of the surviving widow or widower
  • The Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death
  • The deceased’s NHS medical card, birth, and marriage certificates (if available)

Upon completion, the Registrar will give you a Death Certificate; more formally known as a Certified Copy of Entry in the Register of Death. Additional certified copies can be obtained for a small charge, often needed for closing bank accounts and insurance policies, etc, however our Funeral Directors do not need a copy.

You will also receive a Certificate for Burial of Cremation, which we will require in order to make the funeral arrangements on your behalf.

Once a doctor has certified death, we are able to collect the deceased, however do not feel this has to happen right away. Many families wish to wait for other family members to arrive to say their goodbyes at home.

Most people request the deceased to rest at our funeral home, though some prefer this to take place in their own home. If this is the case, we recommend you allow us to bring the deceased into our care first, to return them later when all necessary preparations have been completed.

Private chapels of rest are available in most of our funeral homes, however the decision of whether anyone is to visit is a personal one. We can only tell you than many take comfort from seeing the deceased at rest.

Having to tell other people that someone has died is not an easy task, and what you say varies depending on many factors including your relationship with both the deceased and who you are informing, and on the circumstances of death. Our experience would suggest that keeping it simple is the best approach. If the cause is unknown, it is best to say this rather than surmise.

It isn’t just friends and family either. There are many companies and organisations who will need to know about the death too. These may include;

  • Employer
  • Local council – to cancel council tax and benefits
  • Utility providers – electricity, gas, water, telephone, mobile, TV, internet
  • Banks & Building Societies
  • Credit & Store cards
  • Membership Organisations – Chelmsford Star Co-op, WI, gym, clubs
  • Social services
  • Social security
  • Annual/Monthly payments
  • Email and Social Media accounts
  • Charities – cancel regular donations
  • Post Office – get mail redirected
  • Finally, if premises are to be left empty, contact the local police to make them aware.