Who to contact when someone dies

pair of hands holding a mobile phone

When a family member dies and you have to organise their affairs there’s a lot to think about. A good place to start is by letting people know they’ve passed away.

But who do you need to contact when someone dies? We’ve put together a list of who to contact and when to do it. We hope it make things easier for you.

Are you in immediate need of help?

If you’ve just found someone who’s died or may be seriously injured call 999 straight away. Explain your situation and they’ll tell you what to do next. If you’re on your own, call a relative or friend who lives nearby for support. If that’s not possible call on a neighbour for help.

Who to contact when someone dies and it’s expected:

Call their doctor and nearest family member

If the death was expected (perhaps the person had a terminal illness) the doctor will give you a medical certificate with the cause of death. The doctor may come to the house to confirm the cause of death. But if the death was expected and the doctor has already seen the person within the last two weeks, the doctor may not need to come out. The surgery will arrange the medical certificate for you instead so you can collect it when you’re ready.

Call family members who live nearby too. They may want to say goodbye and they can also be there if you need support.

Who to contact when someone dies unexpectedly:

Call 111 for advice

If a family member or friend dies unexpectedly call 111 for advice. They’ll tell you whether to call an ambulance or the person’s doctor. If paramedics arrive they can confirm that the person has passed away but a registered health professional must issue the death certificate. So it’s likely that you’ll still have to contact the person’s doctor.

If it’s not clear why the person died a coroner may need to carry out a post-mortem exam to find out what happened. The paramedics or doctor will usually contact the coroner for you. If this happens funeral plans may be delayed. This is because you won’t get a death certificate straight away so you won’t be able to register the death as quickly.

Who to contact in the first 24 hours:

Call the register office and a funeral director

Once the death has been confirmed and you’ve got a medical certificate for the cause of death you can register the death at your local register office. You’ll need to do this within 5 days of the death so booking an appointment at the register office in the first 24 hours of the death is sensible. You may not be able to get an appointment for a couple of days. At the appointment they’ll give you a death certificate so you can find a funeral director.

If a coroner is carrying out an investigation into the cause of death you won’t have to register the death within 5 days. You’ll be given an extension. And the coroner will usually send the medical certificate directly to your local register office.

You can arrange for the funeral director to collect the person who died and to look after them in a chapel of rest before making funeral plans. But remember that the person doesn’t have to be moved straight away. There’s time for you and other family members to say goodbye if that’s what you’d like.

Who to contact in the first 48 hours:

Call other family members and friends

You may want to reach out to other family members and friends of the person who passed away. Letting them know what happened can be draining especially if you have to call a lot of people. So ask other family members to help with this. You can support each other through the process and check in with one another regularly too.

Who to contact in the first 72 hours:

Call people they’d see regularly and services they’d use a lot

Who to contact in the first week:

Call government bodies, financial companies and service providers


Government organisations you’ll need to tell and why

Did you know you can use the government’s Tell Us Once Service? This helps you notify several government organisations of a death all at once. This service will notify all the organisations in the list above as well as Veterans UK and some public sector pension schemes.


Financial companies to contact


Household contacts and utility providers

Struggling to call all the companies you need to? See if Settld the death notification service or LifeLedger can help. They’re free death notification services that’ll tell different companies all at once.

Ask other family members to help out with the simpler calls too. Splitting up the list of people to contact between 2 or 3 of you will make things easier to handle.

Who else should you contact when someone dies?

Useful info to have ready

When you tell different organisations about a person’s death it’s useful to have essential info to hand. We’ve listed what you might need below. So you’re not searching for things every time you’re filling out forms or making a phone call.

Keep the following to hand:

If you’re responsible for handling the person’s estate, you may need to give your contact details to some organisations too.

Getting through all the paperwork and phone calls takes some time. So knowing who to contact when someone dies will at least help you work through phone calls quicker. Hopefully our checklist helps you manage things so you can take the time to you need to cope with your own emotions too.


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash