What to do when someone dies

hand holding pen and writing items onto a checklist in a notepade

Knowing what to do when someone dies isn’t easy. It’s useful to get all the help you can with the paperwork, funeral arrangements, and contacting other people and companies.

Here we’ve broken down what needs to be done when someone dies. You might find it helpful to share this list with other family members or friends, so that you can work through the tasks together.

What do you do when someone dies?

Where do you start? What needs to be done when someone dies? Immediately after the death there are some practical steps you’ll need to take. And the steps you take might be different depending on where the person passed away.

Take a look at the list below to see which one applies to you. Click on the most relevant one for more guidance on what to do next.

For more general guidance on what to do after someone dies, read the practical steps to take below. 

Get a medical certificate

When someone dies a doctor or registered medical professional needs to confirm the death. Then they will issue a medical certificate of cause of death. Depending on where the person died you may need to contact a doctor to do this. Or if the person died in hospital the staff will take care of this for you. You’ll need a medical certificate to register the death. So make sure this has been taken care of before making an appointment to register the death.

Why wouldn’t the medical certificate be issued?

If the cause of death is not clear to the doctor then it may need to be dealt with by a coroner. The coroner may need to carry out a post-mortem to find out the cause of death before a medical certificate is issued. This may delay registering the death and the funeral arrangements. But the coroner will issue the medial certificate and send it to the register office for you. They should let you know when they’ve done this but if you have concerns you can contact the coroner for more info.

Contact a funeral director (if that’s what you’d like)

Depending on the final wishes of the person who passed away you may want to contact a funeral director. They can collect and look after the person who died while you register the death and start making funeral arrangements.

Remember that you can contact several funeral directors to talk about your options before making any arrangements. You may also want to ask another family member or friend for help with this. Discussing your options at a time when you’re dealing with someone’s death isn’t easy. But weighing up your options may help you to manage costs while still saying goodbye to the person who died in the way that you’d like.

Not sure where to start? Use our funeral director finder to help you find a funeral director who fits with what you’re looking for.

Register the death

Once the medical certificate has been issued you can register the death. You’ll need to register the death within 5 days (8 days for Scotland) unless the coroner gets involved. You’ll also need to register the death before you make any funeral arrangements. This is because you need the paperwork you get from the register office (death certificate) before making any plans.

Use our guide on how to register a death to make sure you have everything you need before your appointment.

It covers:

Arrange the funeral

Once the death is registered you can start making funeral arrangements. Before you do, check if the person who died made any funeral arrangements themselves. They may have an insurance plan that covers the cost of their funeral or they may have organised a prepaid funeral plan. It may also be worth checking for any final wishes they left behind as part of a will just in case this changes any of your plans for the funeral service.

Here’s a list of things you may want to think about when planning the funeral:

You can make the funeral as simple or elaborate as you’d like. Take away or add the elements that fit the way you’d like to remember the person who died.

Read our guide on how to arrange a funeral for more in-depth advice on planning a funeral.

Tell people about the death

Other practical things to do when someone dies include contacting other people and organisations to let them know what’s happened. This could include notifying landlords to organise the end of a lease or freezing bank accounts. Get some help making phone calls from other family members or friends if possible.

Use our list of who to contact when someone dies so that you notify everyone you need to.

You may also find the government’s Tell Us Once service useful. This will notify several government organisations of the death all at once. Ask the registrar about this service when you register the death. They’ll be able to help you with this. Some registrars may be able to complete the service for you.

Deal with the estate

Find out if the person who died made a will if you haven’t done this already. You’ll need to find out where it is too. Perhaps the person who died told you where it is but don’t worry if they didn’t. You can ask their solicitor or their bank. If that doesn’t help you can also carry out a will search with the National Will Register. This service costs a minimum of £45.60. So if you’re sure the person who died didn’t make a will don’t worry about using this service.

Have you found the will?

Now you’ll need to figure out whether you need to apply for a grant of probate. This means that you have the legal right to deal with the person’s estate. But it may only apply when the person who died was the only owner of their home or had personal belongings worth a lot of money. Get in touch with the banks and building societies the person used to see if you’ll have to apply for probate. Different organisations have different rules on when it’s necessary so it’s best to check before you put any property on the market or make plans to share out any belongings.

If you’re responsible for dealing with the estate you may want to get some help from a solicitor who specialises in probate. It’s a complicated process. But you’ll want to weigh up the costs of the solicitor before deciding whether or not you can take this on yourself.

What if there’s no will?

You’ll need to decide who will be responsible for sorting out the estate (if it’s not you). The person responsible for dealing with the estate will then need to contact the Probate Registry to apply for letters of administration. Like a grant of probate, this means that you’ll be allowed to deal with the person’s estate.

When it comes to dealing with the estate this could include:

Coping with losing someone

Knowing what steps to take after someone dies may ease some of the stress of planning and organising. But you may still need help coping with the loss. Make sure you take some time for yourself and keep in mind that there are organisations you can reach out to for help such as Cruse Bereavement Support.

You can find more organisations that offer free bereavement support in this list of bereavement charities in the UK.

 

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

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Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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What is a Direct Cremation?

A Direct Cremation is an alternative to the traditional funeral. This involves the cremation of the deceased without a funeral service. A Direct Cremation is generally the most economic option because costs of the coffin, preparation of the body, funeral service and expensive transportation are not included. However, many people choose Direct Cremations for reasons other than expense, for example:

  • - Wanting to have a memorial at a different time to the cremation
  • - Expressed desire from the deceased to not have a ceremony
  • - Individuals with relatives who face big physical or geographical challenges in coming together for a ceremony

The prices quoted for Direct Cremations include:

  • All charges, meetings and paperwork for the cremation
  • Collection of deceased and care prior to cremation
  • A simple coffin and urn for the ashes
  • Cremation fees and delivery of ashes to the family
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Attended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees for an Attended Funeral, which is where family and friends have a ceremony or service for the deceased person at the same time as they attend their burial or cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Taking care of all necessary legal and administrative arrangements
  • Collecting and transporting the deceased person from the place of death (normally within 15 miles of the funeral director’s premises) into the funeral director’s care
  • Care of the deceased person before the funeral in appropriate facilities.
  • Providing a suitable coffin
  • Optional viewing of the deceased person for family and friends, by appointment with the funeral director
  • At a date and time you agree with the funeral director, taking the deceased person direct to the agreed cemetery or crematorium (normally within 20 miles of the funeral director’s premises) in a hearse or other appropriate vehicle

In addition to the Funeral Director’s fee, there will be third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements) to cover the other aspects of a funeral (such as the crematorium or burial fees). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to provide these for you.

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Unattended funeral

This is Funeral Choice’s best estimate of this Funeral Director’s fees and the crematorium fee for an Unattended Funeral, which is where family and friends may choose to have a ceremony, event or service for the deceased person, but they do not attend the burial or cremation itself. This is also known as a Direct Cremation.

This price includes the following:

  • Funeral Director's fees
  • Crematorium fee (for an unattended funeral) as selected by the Funeral Director

In addition to this fee, there might be additional third party costs to consider (sometimes called disbursements). Your chosen Funeral Director will be able to explain these for you.

If you wish to attend the funeral, you should view the “Attended Funeral” price instead.

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Why is this price Estimated?

We work hard to ensure the Funeral Director Fees we display are accurate and up to date. However, unlike with our partners, we cannot guarantee this price is correct today.

Funeral Director fees

The price quoted contains the Funeral Director fees for a simple funeral. This includes:

  • Funeral Director fees for meetings, paperwork and running the funeral
  • Collection of the deceased and care prior to funeral
  • Hearse or appropriate vehicle for transport to the funeral
  • Basic coffin

The Funeral Director fees quoted do not include third party costs (often called disbursements). The Funeral Director will guide you through your options. These costs are:

  • Cremation or burial fees
  • Medical certificate for cremation
  • Clergy or officiant fee for conducting the ceremony

In addition to the disbursements you may want to discuss optional costs with your Funeral Director - these could include:

  • Funeral flowers
  • Memorial (venue hire, catering etc)
  • Memorial headstone
  • Orders of service
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Funeral Choice charity donation

To redeem the £20 charity donation all you have to do is select the charity from the dropdown list in the Make Contact form. Once you have confirmed arrangements with that funeral director send us an email to info@yourfuneralchoice.com confirming the service has been arranged. After we receive this email we will make the donation to the chosen charity and confirm back to you.

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