In the aftermath of a loved one’s death, the last things you’re probably thinking about are the legal hoops you now need to jump through in order to properly and legally register the death. It can be an incredibly trying time in the best of circumstances, and if you’re underprepared, things can seem a little overwhelming.
However, there’s no need to worry. Registering a death is a simple and straightforward process which doesn’t require significant time, effort or expense if you know what you’re doing. The step-by-step checklist below should help you get through the process and help you prepare for life after death.
Get a medical certificate
The first thing you’ll need to take care of is obtaining a medical certificate from a practicing GP or hospital doctor. This will provide the deceased’s cause of death.
Find your local register office
You can ask your GP or doctor about the location of your local register office upon receipt of your medical certificate, or you can find out online. It’s advisable to use the closest register to where the death occurred, since further away offices will likely incur delays. Many offices will only register a death by appointment, so it’s a good idea to call in advance and secure a time slot. If the deceased died overseas, you’ll need to register the death in the country where it occurred. All registrations must take place within five days of the death, except in Scotland (where it is eight days).
Prepare yourself for the registration
Most registrations shouldn’t take more than around 30 minutes and are fairly straightforward processes, but they can be helped immensely if you make sure you take the right documentation with you. In addition to the medical certificate you received from the doctor, you’ll need to have the following information:
- The deceased’s full name and any other names they may have used (i.e. maiden name)
- Their date of birth
- Their place of birth (including town if born in the UK)
- Their occupation (or last occupation if they have since retired)
- Their last known address
- Details of any state benefits or pensions they are entitled to receive
While not essential, it’s also a good idea to try and bring the following documents with you:
- Their passport
- Their driving license
- Their birth certificate
- Their marriage certificate
- Their NHS card
- Proof of address
Registering a death does not cost anything.
Obtain the appropriate paperwork
Depending on your location within the UK, you’ll be given different forms for you to fill out and give to funeral directors, will executor or other relevant person. These could include (but are not limited to) a Certificate for Registration of Death, a Certificate for Burial and Cremation and the Death Certificate itself.
Alert the relevant authorities
Finally, you’ll need to make sure that all of the relevant authorities are made aware of the death. This includes organisations like HMRC, the DWP, the National Insurance contributions office, the tax credit office, the passport office, the DVLA, the local council and any other pension schemes. Fortunately, the UK government offers a Tell Us Once system, whereby all of the relevant bodies can be notified all at the same time.