What to do when someone dies 

There are two essential steps to take immediately after someone dies.

1. A doctor must issue a certificate stating the cause of death.

2. The death must be registered with your local Registrar, who will issue a death certificate.

When someone dies at home

Contact the deceased’s GP. They will visit and confirm that the patient has passed away and issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.

If the individual has a funeral plan, call the plan provider on the emergency number provided who 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 a nursing home

The staff will arrange for a doctor to visit. Once he or she has confirmed the death – you should advise the matron or duty nurse that contact should now be made with Golden Leaves, if you have arranged a pre paid funeral plan through Thy Will Be Done, or a funeral director to conduct the removal to a chapel of Rest.

When someone dies in hospital

Generally, the doctor attending the deceased will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. The Hospital Administrator will advise you where and when the certificate will be made available for collection. You will need to speak to the Patient’s Affairs Office – they will issue various documents which you should bring along to our offices to assist with the funeral arrangements.

When is a death reported to the corner?

In some circumstances the death must be reported to the coroner. This happens when:

• there is no doctor who can issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death

• the deceased was not seen by the doctor issuing the medical certificate after death nor within 14 days before death

• the cause of death is unknown

• the cause of death is believed to be unnatural or suspicious

• death occurred during an operation or before recovery from an aesthetic

• death is due to industrial disease or industrial poisoning.

Once a death has been reported to the coroner, the registrar can’t register the death until the coroner has decided whether any further investigation is necessary. In most cases this isn’t necessary, however, and the registration can be completed straight away.

What the coroner can do ?

The coroner can take one of three actions:

• no further action – the doctor will then issue the Medical Cause of Death Certificate and issue a form (Part A) direct to the register office.

• conduct a post mortem to establish the cause of death – once this is completed you can register the death with a form (Part B) sent direct to the register office.

• hold an inquest – on completion of the inquest the coroner will register the death and pass all necessary paperwork directly to the funeral director. The death certificate issued by the registrar will not be available until the inquest has been held.

How to register a death

Once the cause of death has been certified by a doctor (or, in some cases, a coroner), the next step is to get a formal death certificate from your local registrar. Deaths in England and Wales should be registered within 5 days and in the district where the person died.

Who can register a death?

The majority of deaths are registered by a relative of the deceased. The registrar will normally only allow one of the other people listed below to register the death if there are no relatives available.

If the person died in a house or hospital, the death can be registered by:

a relative

someone present at the death

an occupant of the house/official from the hospital

the person making the arrangements with the funeral directors

Deaths taking place anywhere else can be registered by:

a relative

someone present at the death

the person who found the body

the person in charge of the body

the person making the arrangements with the funeral directors

How to register the death

You will need to arrange an appointment with the Registrar to register the death. You can find your local Registrar by clicking here, or in the Yellow Pages.

You need to take the medical certificate of cause of death to the register office and tell the Registrar how many copies of the death certificate you need. It’s advisable to get more than one depending on how many organisations you think you are going to have to contact regarding the death (eg insurance companies, credit card companies and so on) as they might each want to see a certified copy of the death certificate.

Certificates are more expensive if you have to order additional copies at a later date, but they can be bought online, by post or telephone, or through the register office where you registered the death.

How to register a death away from home

Here are the instructions from the government’s General Register Office. Click here