When someone dies, you will need to inform a number of people and organisations and complete certain documents needed by law. If you are a relative or friend you can do some of these things yourself. Others will need to be done by the executor or administrator of the estate. There is plenty of support available to help you through this difficult time.
- Tell the family doctor
- Contact a funeral director, if you intend to use one
- Begin arrangements for the funeral – you should check the Will for any special requests
- Obtain a medical certificate of cause of death signed by a doctor, or if the Coroner is involved, take instructions from Coroner’s Officers regarding registration of the death
- Register the death at the Register Office
As early as possible :
- Contact your Solicitor and/or Executor as soon as you can to confirm that they hold the original Will.
- In the Will, there may be specific directions for burial arrangements.
- This will also enable your Solicitor to start the process of obtaining Probate if necessary
- If there is no Will, decide who will apply to sort out the deceased’s affairs and contact your Solicitor to help you apply for ‘Letters of Administration’ if necessary
How to Register a death
A death must be registered within five days from when it occurred. This period can be extended in exceptional circumstances and if the Coroner is involved. The registration must take place in the district where the death occurred.
If it is difficult for you to get to the appropriate registration office, you may visit your local office and declare the necessary information, which will then be sent to the office for the district in which the death occurred to enable the death to be registered in that district. They will then send you the appropriate documents; consequently registration by declaration may result in a delay in the issue of the document needed for the funeral arrangements.
You can only register a death once you have the medical cause of death certificate from the doctor, or in the case of a death reported to the Coroner, confirmation from the Coroner’s office that the relevant paperwork has been issued to the Register Office.
The death can be registered by the following people, in order of priority :
- A relative
- Someone present at the death
- The occupier of the nursing/residential home/official from the hospital where the death took place
- The person making the arrangements with the funeral directors
- The person who found the body
- The person in charge of the body.
There are many organisations which might be able to help you in such a stressful time. Here is a list to help you find the most appropriate for you.
- The National Association of Bereavement Services: www.stjohnshospice.org.uk
- This organisation has a directory of services, and can direct people to their nearest source of support. Tel: 020 7709 9090
- The Compassionate Friends www.tcf.org.uk
- For help and support to parents whose son or daughter has died. Tel: 0845 123 2304
- The Samaritans www.samaritans.org If you just need someone to talk to who will give you support. There over 180 branches that are open 24 hours a day. Tel. 08457 909090
- SSAFA Forces Help www.ssafa.org.uk This is a national charity helping serving and ex service men, women and their families in the hour of need. Tel: 0845 1300 975
- The National Association of Widows www.nawidows.org.uk They offer a friendly helping hand to all widows and their families.
Remember, in all the circumstances, the immediate practicalities will be the more important than the process of applying for Probate or Letters of Administration