What to do when someone dies

When someone dies, there are a number of things that need to be done in the days immediately following their death. Briefly, these things are:

  • Obtain a medical certificate stating the cause of death
  • Inform the registrar in order to obtain a death certificate
  • Make arrangements for the deceased's funeral

Less urgently but no less importantly, you will also need to inform people like insurance companies and the Benefits Agency, and to deal with the property and belongings of the deceased and other legal matters that may arise.

If the deceased has left a will, the appointed executor – usually a close relative – takes on the responsibility for handling the funeral and other arrangements. If there is no will, the next of kin or another relative should perform these duties.

Obtain medical certificate (cause of death)

The first thing to be done is to obtain a medical certificate showing the cause of death.

If the person died at home, you should call the deceased's doctor straight away. The doctor will determine the cause of death and issue the certificate, making it available for you to collect from the surgery.

If the death occurrs in a hospital or care home, the staff will contact the next of kin and arrange for a doctor to issue the certificate.

Sometimes, if the doctor cannot determine the cause of death or the person died suddenly and unexpectedly, it may be necessary to get the coroner involved. The doctor will contact the coroner, and you will have to wait until the coroner releases the deceased's body before setting a date for the funeral. 

How we can help

Your funeral director can help to ease the burden at this most distressing time, and you can call us day or night for immediate support. Once the medical certificate has been issued, we will take care of your loved one as you wish, removing the deceased from the hospital as required and making all the preparations for the funeral. We can also liaise with the coroner if this is necessary.