Golden Leaves helped me with all the arrangements, talking me through every step. Very helpful at a very stressful time

What to do when someone dies

It can be devastating to experience a bereavement – even if it was expected. Working out what to do first can become stressful and overwhelming. It is easy to feel lost on your journey.

The guide below will cover what to do when someone dies – from the day your loved one passes away to the day of the funeral.

What to do after a death

What you need to do when someone dies will depend on the circumstances of their death.

When someone dies at home and their death was expected

In cases where the person’s death was expected, due to a terminal illness, for example, then the deceased’s GP will need to be contacted. The doctor will visit, confirm the death and issue a medical certificate of cause of death. This will allow the death to be registered at the register office.

If the individual has a funeral plan, then you can call the emergency number provided. They will inform the funeral director shown on the plan to make arrangements for the removal of the deceased to a chapel of rest.

When someone dies at home unexpectedly

It can be hard to know what to do when someone dies at home, but when it’s unexpected, for example, as a result of an accident, then it can be even more stressful. If the cause of the death is unclear or unnatural, the death may need to be reported to a coroner.

A coroner is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating unexpected deaths. The coroner may call for a post-mortem examination, which may take some time and cause a delay in the funeral. The police will also be called to do a routine visit when someone dies unexpectedly at home.

When someone dies in hospital

The doctor will issue the medical certificate of cause of death and support you with the next steps. Some hospitals will need the death registered before the funeral director can take the body from the premises or arrange for the body to be taken home.

When someone dies in a care home

When someone dies in a care home, the care home staff will notify the next of kin as soon as possible. They will also notify the GP as soon as possible so that they can certify the death.

Care home staff will ensure the deceased is looked after properly and will usually be moved to their room or another private space until the family has been notified and the funeral director can collect the body.

When someone dies in abroad

If someone dies abroad, then the death should be registered according to the regulations of the country.

A local death certificate can usually be used in the UK. If the language isn’t in English, then it may need to be translated. The death can also be registered with UK authorities if the family want to.

Registering and reporting a death

It’s a legal requirement to register a death within five days in England and Wales and eight days in Scotland. A burial or cremation cannot go ahead until the death has been registered.

A death can be registered by contacting the registrar’s office local to the person who has died.

Find out more information on how to register a death.

Who to contact when someone dies

Dealing with a person’s affairs can be overwhelming. After someone’s death, the family or a trusted friend must get in touch with certain organisations to let them know as soon as possible.

The Government’s ‘Tell Us Once’ service lets someone report a death to most government organisations in one go, and is available in England, Wales and Scotland, but not Northern Ireland.

The government organisations that can be contacted in one go include:

  • HMRC for tax purposes
  • DVLA
  • UK Passport Agency
  • Local services, such as council tax, electoral services and libraries

If your local authority doesn’t offer the Tell Us Once service, you will need to contact these departments yourself.

Below are some other organisations that may need to be contacted after a person’s death:

  • Bank and building supplier
  • Employer
  • Healthcare services (GP, dentist, optician, and anyone else providing medical care)
  • Insurance company
  • Pension scheme provider
  • Mortgage provider, housing association or council housing office
  • Social services
  • Utility companies
  • Charities, organisations or magazine subscriptions the deceased person made regular payments to
  • Bereavement Register (removes their details from mailing lists and stops most advertising mail)

Arranging the funeral

Before someone dies, they may have spoken with their loved ones about funeral plans and instructions or have it written in their will – especially if their death was expected, such as after a terminal illness.

They may have also purchased a pre-paid funeral plan which means all the arrangements for cremation or burial have already been decided and paid for.

If there aren’t any clear wishes, or the death was unexpected, the executor or nearest relative will usually decide if the body will be cremated or buried, and what type of funeral will take place.

Here, at Golden Leaves, we offer a series of pre-payment funeral plans, payable with a single payment or fixed monthly payments. Find out more by visiting our Funeral Plans page today.

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