What to Do When Someone Dies

Step-by-step information on what to do when someone dies

Last updated: 21 July 2020

When a loved one dies, there are practical things that need to be done in order to move forward with the funeral arrangements. This guide provides a brief overview of what steps need to be taken and in what order.

1. Get the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death

The cause of death needs to be verified by your loved one’s doctor. If the doctor is satisfied that the cause of death is clear, a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will be issued.

In the event that the cause of death is unknown or deemed suspicious by the doctor, the coroner’s office will be contacted to conduct an investigation into the cause of death. If the coroner is involved, you cannot register the death until the coroner has issued supporting documentation. However, they will issue an interim death certificate so that funeral arrangements can go ahead.

2. Register the death and get the Death Certificate

To register the death, you will have to submit the medical certificate of cause of death to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages at a registry office. They will ask for your loved one’s personal details, such as date of birth, address and whether they were receiving a pension or benefits. It may be helpful to also bring any marriage certificates and your loved one’s NHS medical card, if possible.

After registering the death, you will be issued a Death Certificate and the Certificate for Burial or Cremation. Once issued you can then continue with the funeral arrangements.

3. Arrange the funeral with a funeral director

Although your loved one cannot have a funeral until the Death Certificate and the Certificate for Burial or Cremation are issued, you can start to make the funeral arrangements at any point after the death of your loved one.

Your funeral director will be able to discuss any concerns or answer any questions you may have about the funeral service.

If you are yet to contact a funeral director, you can compare funeral directors near you on Funeral Guide.

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