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: 10 October 2019

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What do you do when someone dies at home?

When someone dies at home and the death is expected, their doctor should be called. If someone dies at home unexpectedly you will need to contact the emergency services.

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 GP or the nearest doctor. In most cases when someone dies at home and it is expected the doctor can provide a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death confirming the cause of death immediately. You can find out more about getting a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death in our guide.

Your funeral director will be able to advise you on registering a death and everything else you need to do when someone dies.

Whether you choose to lay out your loved one at home or you would like your funeral director to take care of them until the a funeral, is up to you.

What happens when someone dies at home unexpectedly?

The first thing you need to do when someone dies at home unexpectedly is call 999 and ask for police and ambulance services immediately. When someone dies at home unexpectedly, there is a possibility the death will be followed by a coroner's inquest. You won't be able to register the death until the coroner has confirmed the cause of death. This might delay the funeral, but your funeral director will be able to help you through every step of the process.

What do you need to do next?

When someone has died at home and their cause of death has been confirmed by a doctor or coroner, you will need to register their 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.

If it is available in your area, you can use the government's Tell Us Once service which allows you to alert every relevant government department to your loved one's death, in one phone call.

Once you have submitted the forms for registering the death, you can go about arranging a funeral for them. The person who has died may have left details of what kind of funeral they wanted in the form of funeral wishes. If they had a funeral plan that 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?

Whether someone dies at home unexpectedly or otherwise, you'll have to consider a wide range of things when planning their funeral. We have guides that can help when arranging a funeral, including a guide to funeral hymns, a guide to writing a eulogy and a glossary of funeral terms.