What to Do When Someone Dies

It can be reassuring to know what to do when someone dies. Whether the death was expected or not, our guide will help you navigate the process following the death of a loved one. The steps that are taken will differ depending on the place of passing and if the death was caused by natural causes or not. A Medical Certificate of the cause of Death must be obtained from a Doctor to enable you to register the death. Upon registering the death, you will be issued with a Death Certificate.

We understand that this can be a difficult time for many. If you need additional support, please contact our supportive and experienced team who will do all they can to help.

When a Death Occurs at Home

When a death occurs at home, and was expected, the family Doctor should be notified as soon as possible. In most cases, the Doctor will visit the home to confirm the cause of death and issue a Medical Cause of Death Certificate. Once you have the certificate, you may instruct our services.

If the death was not expected, then you should call the emergency services. Usually, a First Responder, ambulance, Doctor and the Police will attend. If the Doctor can confirm the death occurred due to natural causes, they will issue you with a Medical Cause of Death Certificate. Once you have this, you are free to call us to instruct our services.

In cases where the death was not caused by natural causes, a Coroner will be called. It is likely that they will instruct an inquest to establish the cause of death.

When a Death Occurs in a Hospice or Nursing Home

When a person dies in a hospice or nursing home, it is usually expected. The staff on duty will notify you and Doctor will issue the Medical Cause of Death Certificate.

When a Death Occurs in a Hospital

When a loved one dies in a hospital, the staff on duty will inform the next of kin or specified contact of the death. The deceased will be transported to the hospital chapel. The administration staff will arrange for the Medical Cause of Death Certificate to be issued.

What Happens When a Death is Referred to a Coroner?

If the Doctor is unable to establish the cause of death, the Coroner will be informed. They will seek to establish if the cause of death was clear or not. Normally, a post-mortem will be ordered, and an inquest may be instructed, depending on the circumstances.

When this happens, the deceased will be taken to the hospital mortuary. The body will be released for the funeral when the cause of death has been confirmed.

If an inquest has been instructed, this can take time, so you may need to request an interim Death Certificate.

For the latest advice, visit the governments web page about what happens when a death is reported to a Coroner.

Who Should You Notify Following a Death?

People may have many professional, personal and financial contacts and it is important that these contacts are notified in good time. For a checklist about who to inform, visit our page detailing who to notify when a loved one dies.

Register a Death

In Wales and England, the death should be registered within 5 days. Although you can register the death at any Register Office, it may be quicker if you register it with the local office in the area where the death occurred.

If the death occurred in Scotland, you have 8 days in which to register the death.

The Register Office will issue a Death Certificate and a Certificate for Burial or Cremation (also known as a ‘green form’). They may also issue a Certificate for Department of Work & Pensions.

The funeral cannot take place until the ‘green form’ has been issued and passed to us.

If the death occurred abroad, then you must register it in accordance with the regulations of the country where the death happened. You can also register the death with UK authorities.

What happens if I cannot register the death because a Coroner is involved?

If a Coroner has instructed an inquest, then it may not be possible to register the death in the required time limits. Do not worry, as you can apply for an interim Death Certificate. This certificate can used to apply for probate. Once the inquest has been completed, a normal Death Certificate will be issued. For more advice, please contact us.

Contact Us for Advice on What Happens When a Loved One Dies

We understand that when a loved one dies, time can become a blur. We are here to support you at each stage, so please approach us for guidance on what to do when someone dies if you are uncertain of any aspects.

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