A Step By Step Guide | What To Do After Someone Dies

What To Do After Someone Died

  1. Overview
  2. Register the death
  3. When a death is reported to the coroner
  4. Arrange the funeral
  5. ‚”Tell Us Once‚” and organizations you need to contact
  6. Death Abroad

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1. Overview
When someone dies there are 3 things you must do in the first few days:
1) Get a medical certificate – you‚’ll get this from a doctor (GP or at a hospital) and you need one to register the death.
2) Register the death within 5 days of the death – you‚’ll then get the documents you need for the funeral.
3) Arrange the funeral – you can use a funeral director or do it yourself.

2. Register the death
‚ùã If the death has been reported to a coroner you can‚’t register the death until the coroner gives permission.
Who can register the death, the documents you‚’ll need and documents you‚’ll get depend on the circumstances of the death. Use the register a death tool to find out what you need to do.

3. When a death is reported to a coroner
A doctor may report the death to a coroner if:

  • the cause of death is unknown
  • the death was violent or unnatural
  • the death was sudden and unexplained
  • the person who died was not visited by a medical practitioner during their final illness
  • the medical certificate isn‚’t available
  • the person who died wasn‚’t seen by the doctor who signed the medical certificate within 14 days before death or after they died
  • the death occurred during an operation or before the person came out of anaesthetic
  • the medical certificate suggests the death may have been caused by an industrial disease or industrial poisoning

The coroner may decide that the cause of death is clear. In this case:
1) The doctor signs a medical certificate.
2) You take the medical certificate to the registrar.
3) The coroner issues a certificate to the registrar stating a post-mortem isn‚’t needed.
To find out how the person died, the coroner may decide a post-mortem is needed. This can be done either in a hospital or mortuary.
You can‚’t object to a coroner‚’s post-mortem – but if you‚’ve asked the coroner must tell you (and the person‚’s GP) when and where the examination will take place.
After the post-mortem:

  • The coroner will release the body for a funeral once they have completed the post-mortem examinations and no further examinations are needed.
  • If the body is released with no inquest, the coroner will send a form (‚ÄòPink Form – form 100B‚’) to the registrar stating the cause of death.
  • If the body is to be cremated, the coroner will also send a ‚ÄòCertificate of Coroner – form Cremation 6‚’.

If the coroner decides to hold an inquest
A coroner must hold an inquest if the cause of death is still unknown, or if the person:

  • possibly died a violent or unnatural death
  • died in prison or police custody

You can‚’t register the death until after the inquest. The coroner is responsible for sending the relevant paperwork to the registrar.
The death can‚’t be registered until after the inquest, but the coroner can give you a certificate to prove the person is dead. When the inquest is over the coroner will tell the registrar what to put in the register.

4. Arrange the funeral
The funeral can usually only take place after the death has been registered.
Funeral directors
Most people use a funeral director.
Get more than one quote to compare costs. You should choose a funeral director who‚’s a member of either:

  • National Association of Funeral Directors
  • Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors

Both organisations have codes of practice and have to give you a price list when asked.
Some local councils run their own funeral services – eg non-religious burials. The UK Society of Celebrants can also help with non-religious funerals. Just drop us a line here.

Arranging the funeral yourself
To arrange a funeral yourself, contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local council.
Funeral costs
Funeral costs can include:

  • funeral director fees
  • things the funeral director pays for on your behalf (called ‚Äòdisbursements‚’) – eg a celebrant, a newspaper announcement about the death
  • local authority burial fees

Often funeral directors list all these costs in their quote.

Paying for a funeral
The funeral can be paid:

  • by you or other family members or friends
  • from a financial scheme the person had – eg a pre-paid funeral plan or insurance policy
  • from money from the person‚’s estate (eg savings) – getting access to this is called applying for a ‚Äògrant of representation‚'(sometimes called ‚Äòapplying for probate‚’)

If you have difficulty paying for the funeral, apply for a Funeral Payment.

Moving a body out of England or Wales
You need to get permission from a coroner to move a body for a funeral abroad. Apply at least 4 days before you want the body to be moved.
Find a local coroner using the Coroners‚’ Society of England and Wales website.

5. Tell Us Once and organisations you need to contact
You‚’ll need to report the death to various organisations and government departments.
Most local councils run a service called Tell Us Once – they‚’ll contact different government services for you.
The registrar will explain your options for using Tell Us Once. These are:

  • online
  • by phone ‚- the registrar will give you the phone number
  • in person, by making an appointment with your local council bereavement adviser

Your registrar will give you a unique reference number to use the Tell Us Once service.
You may need to contact the following organisations if you don‚’t use Tell Us Once
HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC)
You may have to send different forms to HMRC depending on the person‚’s circumstances (eg income, pensions, benefits, whether there‚’s a surviving spouse or partner).
HMRC‚’s bereavement tool will help you work out which forms to fill out and where to send them – fill in a questionnaire and it‚’ll tell you how to sort out tax and benefit affairs.
National Insurance (NI) contributions office
You may need to contact the NI contributions office to cancel the deceased‚’s NI payments if they were:

  • self-employed
  • making voluntary payments, eg to make up for a gap in their NI record

HMRC will automatically stop collecting NI if you tell them of the death.
Child Benefit Office
If you, your spouse or partner are claiming Child Benefit, you‚’ll need to contact the Child Benefit Office if:

  • your child or a child you‚’re responsible for dies
  • your spouse or partner dies and you‚’re now the sole parent
  • both of the child‚’s parents have died and you‚’re now their main carer

You need to contact the Child Benefit Office within 8 weeks of the death.
Tax credit Office
If you, your spouse or partner are claiming tax credits, you‚’ll need to contact the tax credit office if:

  • a child you‚’re responsible for dies
  • your spouse or partner dies
  • You need to contact the tax credit office within 1 month of the death.

You must contact DVLA to:

  • return any driving licence and cancel the car tax of the deceased
  • tell them the registration numbers of any vehicles that belonged to the deceased

Returning a passport
If the person had a passport, you should cancel it to prevent it being used illegally. You can return it with the form below or hand it into your nearest passport office.
Download ‚ÄòWhat to do with a passport when the passport holder has died‚’ (PDF 39KB)
The local council
Contact the local council to cancel things like Council Tax and resident parking permits. Councils also offer bereavement services.
Student Loans Company
Send the death certificate or coroner‚’s report to the Student Loans Company to get a student loan cancelled.
Student Loans Company Limited 
100 Bothwell Street 
G2 7JD

Banks and other financial organisations
You may need to close down (or change the details of) the person‚’s bank accounts or financial schemes.
For instance, you may have to contact their bank, mortgage provider, insurance companies and pension provider.

6. Death abroad
You need to register a death if the person died abroad, both with the UK authorities and in the country where the person died.
Bringing the body home
To bring the body home you need:

  • a certified English translation of the death certificate
  • permission from a coroner (or equivalent) in the country where the person died to remove the body

The British Consulate can help to arrange this.
You can find out more on about coping with a death abroad.
Contacting a register office in England and Wales
You need to take the death certificate to the register office in the area the funeral is taking place.
As the death has already been registered in the country the person died in, the registrar will give you a ‚ÄòCertificate of no liability to register‚’. You should give this to the funeral director so the funeral can go ahead.
When a coroner is involved
You need a certificate from the coroner (form ‚ÄòCremation 6‚’) if the person is to be cremated.
Whether the person is to be buried or cremated, a coroner will be involved if the cause of death abroad is unknown – or if it was sudden, violent or unnatural.

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