What To Do When Someone Dies At Home

A guide for what to do when someone dies at home, either unexpectedly or not, and what you need to do next

Last updated: 17 July 2019

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What do you do when someone dies at home?

If someone dies at home unexpectedly, you should call 999 and ask for police and ambulance services immediately. If the death was expected, for example if the person who died suffered from a terminal illness, then the doctor of the person who has died should be called.

In most cases where the death is expected, the doctor will be able to provide a medical certificate noting the cause of death.

Whenever you are ready, you should contact a funeral director who will be able to help with all aspects of arranging a funeral.

What do you do when someone dies at home and you expect it?

When someone dies at home and it is expected, you should call their doctor or the family doctor. In most cases they will provide a medical certificate confirming the cause of death immediately.

Once you have a death certificate and feel ready to move onto the next step, you should contact a funeral director who will be able to help you with everything else you need to do.

Whether you choose to have the person who has died laid out at home or you would like your funeral director to take care of the person until you are ready to arrange and hold a funeral, is up to you.

What do you need to do next?

After someone has died and their cause of death has been confirmed by a doctor or coroner, you will need to register their death. Without a death certificate from a doctor or a coroner, you won't be able to register the death. You must register a death within five days if you are in England, Wales or Northern Ireland and within eight days if you are in Scotland.

You won’t receive a certificate for burial or cremation until you have registered the death. Your funeral director will be able to help you with making sure the right forms are filled out and submitted to the correct authorities.

Once you have submitted the forms for registering the death, you can go about arranging a funeral. The person who has died may have left details of what kind of funeral they wanted in the form of funeral wishes and they might have taken out a funeral plan which would not only give guidance on the type of funeral they wanted, but also provide financial means to arrange that funeral.

What else do you need to think about?

If a death at home is unexpected it may need to be investigated by a coroner. If it seems the cause of death may not be natural, then a coroner might request a post-mortem examination as part of their investigation. This investigation is known as an inquest. In the event of a death being investigated by a coroner, funeral plans might have to be delayed while their investigation is completed.