Helping you understand the funeral process

As experts in arranging funerals, we thought it would be helpful to give you some advice on the steps you need to take when a loved one passes away. This is an overview, and we have included links to further information. Please feel free to call or e-mail us if you have any questions.

When a death occurs at home

If the death is unexpected, the first thing to do is call your GP. If the coroner needs to carry out an examination, your loved one will be collected and taken to the nearest hospital.
If the death is expected, due to illness, then you should tell their doctor as soon as possible. They will visit the home address and either complete the Medical Certificate of Death there and then, or ask you to collect it from the surgery the next day.

When a death occurs in a hospital

When a person died in hospital, the procedure is very similar, however you will ask the hospital for the Medical Certificate of Death, instead of the person’s doctor.
When you have received the Medical Certificate, you need to make an appointment at the Registry Office in the district where the death occurred, to register the death.

If the death has been reported to the Coroner, they will give you the certificates you need, or send them directly to the Registrar’s Office in the district where the death occurred.

How to register a death

You should register a death within five days, and it will normally take about half an hour.
Who can register?
  • A relative
  • Someone present at the death
  • An administrator from the hospital
  • The person making arrangements with the funeral directors

Documents required:

  • Medical Certificate of Death, signed by a doctor
  • Medical Card if available or
  • Birth Certificate or information regarding date of birth

Information required:

  • Date and place of death
  • Full name of deceased (and their maiden name, or other previous name if applicable)
  • Date and place of birth
  • Occupation and home address
  • If married, full name, date of birth and occupation of surviving spouse

For more information, please visit

Documents you will receive:

  • A green-coloured Certificate, which you will need to give to your chosen Funeral Director
  • A Certificate or Registration of Death (form BD8).

Informing government organisations

You’ll need to tell various government organisations about the death, and there is a service called ‘Tell Us Once’ to make it a little easier.
They will report the death to HMRC, the DWP, Passport Office, the DVLA, the local council, and organisations dealing with such things as bus passes, disabled cards etc., giving you one less thing to worry about.

You will also need to inform the person’s bank, mortgage, pension and insurance providers.

Help with costs

There may be money available from the estate of the person who has died, such as money from bank or building society accounts, or insurance policies and pension schemes.

Unless it’s a joint account, any money held in the deceased’s account may be frozen, and may not be accessible until probate has been obtained.

Some people are entitled to financial support from the government, for example, if you or your partner receives certain benefits. To find out more about the Social Fund, and see if you qualify, click here. Any claims must be made within three months.

You may be entitled to Bereavement Benefits if you have lost a spouse or civil partner. To find out more, click here.

Dealing with the estate

When a person dies leaving property or other possessions, someone will need to administer their estate. This will include legal, tax and administration tasks, and you may be able to carry them out yourself, or you may prefer to appoint a legal professional.
If a will was made, it is important to access it before finalising the funeral arrangements, as it may contain instructions for the funeral. In most circumstances, we would advice you to consult a solicitor, who could save you a great deal of unnecessary trouble, and eventually save you money.

Often, a process known as Probate may need to be carried out.

How to obtain Probate:
Someone needs to take charge of the deceased person’s estate by collecting the money, paying any debts and distributing the rest to the people named in the will.

The Probate Registry issues the document, which is called a Grant of Representation. There are three types of grant:

  1. Probate issued to one of more of the executors names in the will
  2. Letters of Administration (with will) issued when there is a will, but no executor named, or if they are unable to deal with the estate
  3. Letters of Administration issued with the deceased has not made a will, or the will is not valid

You may also find it useful to speak to an independent Financial Advisor, to help advise you about the best way to mitigate any tax due on the estate.