What To Do When Someone Dies
Someone we love passing away is one of the hardest things that life throws at us, and when that befalls you, it is completely natural and normal to feel at least partially at a loss as to what to do next.
There’s often so many things to do, so many tasks big and small, that people don’t know where to start; so let’s go through the things you need to do when someone dies.
If you need any help or advice, please call our Beckenham office on 020 3823 6385 or call our Penge office on 020 3870 2587.
There is an array of official documents that you need to procure where possible in order to register a death. The required documents are:
- Medical certificate of death
- The deceased person’s birth and marriage certificate
- The deceased person’s NHS medical card
As well as documentation, there is some required information that you need to provide:
- The deceased person’s date and place of death
- Their date and place of birth
- Their full name, including the maiden name – for a woman who was married or widowed, the full name and occupation of her husband
- The date of birth of their spouse
- Their last address
- Their occupation
- Details of any pension or benefits the deceased person was receiving at the time of their death
Registration needs to occur within 5 days of death, including weekends and bank holidays.
There are also different provisions depending on whether the death occurred at home, abroad or in hospital. We’ll go through them here.
If the death occurred in hospital or a nursing home
When someone dies in hospital or in a nursing home, we can arrange for them to be moved to a mortuary, but in order to do this, we will need to obtain a ‘Removal Order’ from the deceased person’s family.
The person’s belongings will need to be collected from the hospital or nursing home in which they died, and the staff at the premises will be able to provide you with the required medical certificate. It will be provided in a sealed envelope, addressed to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
If the person is to be cremated, a second doctor will need to sign a certificate that confirms the person has been examined – this will incur a fee.
If the death occurred at home
If someone dies at home, their GP will need to be called. They will come to the house, and then issue a certificate stating the cause of death, if the death was expected. If it was not expected, the death needs to be reported to the coroner, and the deceased will be taken to a mortuary for a post-mortem. If you do not have their GP’s contact details, you will need to call an ambulance.
If the death took place abroad
A death that happens abroad needs to be registered according to the laws of that country, and it should be reported to The British Consulate in order for the death to be registered in the UK, too.
When the deceased is returned to the UK, the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages for the district where the funeral will take place needs to be notified. This is so they can issue a death certificate before a burial takes place. Where a cremation is preferred, you will need the permission of the Home Office.
If the cause of death is unknown, or the person died of natural causes, then the coroner of the funeral district will need to be informed. In Northern Ireland, the family of the deceased can request that the coroner arrange a post-mortem or inquest.
The repatriation of the deceased can be covered by travel insurance, if applicable.