When Someone Dies

This section primarily concerns the immediate decisions required around the time of death and the procedures that must be followed. The circumstances of the death will generally dictate what actions need to be taken.

In addition to the information below, there is a useful publication called 'What to do after a death', available from the Department of Work & Pensions website.

Place of Death

If the person has died in hospital the body will usually be retained by the hospital mortuary until the funeral director arranges for collection ahead of the funeral.

If death has occurred at a nursing home they will arrange for a GP to confirm the death. If deemed to be as a result of natural causes and the patient has been seen by their GP during previous weeks, the nursing home will arrange for the chosen funeral director to collect the deceased. The GP of the decreased will then issue the medical certificate for the cause of death within the next 24/48 hours.

Family members usually arrange a visit by the family GP if the death has occurred at home. The GP will need to confirm the death and then, if deemed to be as a result of natural causes, the family can make arrangements with a funeral director for the collection of the deceased.

The Coroner, a lawyer or doctor responsible for investigating a death, is usually involved when a death is unexpected, if it has occurred outside of the two week period either at home or in a nursing home, in a public place, as a result of an accident, or when the circumstances of the death are unknown or suspicious. In these instances the deceased will be collected by a funeral director working for the Coroner and taken to the local mortuary, as it is probable that a post mortem will need to be carried out to help determine the cause of death. However you are not obliged to use the services of the Coroner's funeral director to carry out the funeral arrangements.

People to inform

Following a death it is important to ensure that family members and friends are informed. We can assist with arranging a suitable announcement in the local newspaper if required.

There are also many others who should be informed as promptly as possible, and it is a legal requirement to do so. These include, but are not limited to, the deceased's solicitor, bank, insurance provider, pension provider, the Passport Office, motor vehicle insurer* and DVLA (driving license and car registration), employer, utility companies and Inland Revenue.

*Please note that insurance cover on a vehicle owned by the deceased ceases immediately at the time of death. The next of kin or executor should inform the insurance company concerned who will offer immediate transfer of cover. The vehicle registration documents should be returned in due course to the licensing authority for transfer of ownership to the beneficiary. The driving license of the deceased should also be returned to the licensing authority.

Registering a death

Registration must be completed within five days of the death at the Register Office in the borough where the death occured, unless the Coroner is included when the time limit is extended to 14 days. Those eligible to register the death are any relative (next of kin preferred), any person present at the death, an executor or the Matron in charge of a nursing home or hospital in which the death occured.

The Medical Cause of Death certificate must be presented and other details will need to be made known to the Registrar including the date and place of death, the deceased’s full names and address, the date and place of birth, their occupation, whether they were married and if so, the date of birth of the surviving widow or widower, and whether the deceased was receiving a state pension or allowances.

Once the registration has been completed, death certificates will be made available to the family, and if required, a certificate for retention by the DSS in relation to state pensions. Death certificates may be required in relation to the administration of a will, and multiple copies are available on request and subject to the payment of the relevant fee.