When you suffer the death of a loved one it can be very daunting. At a time of distress and sometimes shock, there are a number of practical steps which must be taken. This is only a general guide as the steps will vary according to the individual circumstances of the death.
Registering the death
A death must be registered, and a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) will be needed before you can do so.
If the death was in hospital, hospital staff will inform you of the procedure and when you can collect the death certificate.
If the person has died at home or in a nursing home and the death was expected and a natural one, it will usually be the GP who issues the MCCD. You should then contact the funeral director, who will collect the body.
If the death was unexpected and in a public place or at home, the person may be taken to hospital by ambulance. The police will also attend and if death is confirmed at the scene they will notify the coroner. In this instance a funeral director will move the body, usually to a hospital on behalf of the coroner. It is a legal requirement that the cause of death is known and recorded. The coroner will decide if a post-mortem is needed. After a post-mortem, if the death is found to be natural, the coroner will provide a certificate to allow the death to be registered.
If the coroner decides that the death was not due to natural causes or that further tests are necessary, an inquest may be opened.
Certified copies of the death certificate.
You will need to purchase copies from the registrar as you will be asked to produce them by organisations. A solicitor is also able to certify a copy for you.
Secure the property
Make sure that the home is secure and contact the insurance company as soon as possible to ensure that the cover is still in place and is adequate. Generally possessions should not be taken from the deceased's home as they will need to be valued, however if there are high value items such as jewellery, you might consider moving them to a safer location.
Notifying others of the death
Banks and building societies should be notified immediately to prevent any fraud from occurring.
Family and friends will need to be notified sensitively. You will also need to notify any employer.
Government departments must also be notified to prevent any over-payment of benefits etc. For information on how this can be done click on this link to the Tell us Once service.
Arranging the funeral
The first thing to check is whether the deceased had a pre-paid funeral plan or whether they have given instructions in their Will about how they would like the funeral to be carried out. The cost of a funeral is generally taken from the deceased person's estate. The solicitor who helps you with probate should be able to advise on this.
Administering the estate
A solicitor can help you to administer the estate and to determine whether it is necessary to apply for probate. Click here for further detail about probate.