When someone close to you dies, it can be difficult to think practically. You might not know what the immediate next steps are, who to contact, and what you should do in general. But not to worry, we’re here to help.

In this article, we go through a step-by-step process covering what you should do if a loved one dies at home.

1. Immediate next steps if a loved one dies at home

Expected deaths

If the death is expected, your immediate next steps will vary depending on the time of day:

  • During the day – For an anticipated death, caused by a medical condition or illness (such as cancer), you’ll need to contact the deceased’s GP or the NHS helpline by dialling 111 as soon as possible.
  • During the night – If your loved one has passed away in the night, you should call the NHS helpline on 111 and they will advise you on what to do next. You can then wait until the morning before contacting their GP once open.

In both situations, if you’re not the next of kin or a close relative, you should notify them immediately.

Once the necessary steps have been taken, and the cause of death is confirmed, the doctor will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, which allows you to register the death. You should then contact a funeral director as soon as possible and arrange for them to take care of your loved one.

A popular choice for many is arranging a direct cremation for the deceased. Not only can you save up to 75% compared to traditional funerals, but they offer a hassle-free and quick service so that friends and family can grief, as well as celebrate the life of their loved without the stress of arranging a traditional funeral.

Unexpected deaths

If the death was unexpected, you must alert the Police and Ambulance services straight away by dialling 999. The operator will provide instructions on what you should do including whether resuscitation should be attempted. During this, paramedics will be on route, and upon arrival will either take over resuscitation, start it, or confirm the death.

With unexpected deaths, it’s important to leave your surrounding area untouched. Excluding any attempt at resuscitation.

The Police will then take care of the deceased by arranging a funeral director to collect the body, acting on behalf of the Coroner if the death wasn’t expected.

2. Registering the death of a loved one

After sorting the immediate steps, you need to register the death within 5 days. Here’s how to do it:

Find a registry office

You can use any registry office you’d like, but it’s best to use one in the area where the person died.

Get the information together

When visiting the registry office, you’ll need to bring the medical certificate showing the cause of death, signed by a doctor. If possible, you should also take your loved one’s:

  • Birth certificate
  • Driving license
  • Proof of their address
  • NHS medical card or number
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate

Because of the recent covid restrictions, you are not currently required to visit the registry office. You can arrange a telephone appointment by contacting the local registry office by phone or by booking an appointment on their website. The doctor will send the medical cause of death certificate directly to the registrar.

What you’ll receive

After handing over the required information on your loved one, the registrar will give you:

  • A certificate for burial or cremation (this is called a Green Form)
  • A certificate of registration of death (form BD8)
  • Any number of death certificates you require, these are charged at £11 each
Elderly couple

Updating records

When someone dies, you must get in touch with certain organisations to let them know as soon as possible. This way, any necessary records can be updated with the death.

You may be able to use the Tell Us Once service, which reports a death to several government departments in one go. You can arrange an appointment for when you visit the registrar office, or you can access the service online or via the phone.

In order to do this, you will need a Tell Us Once reference supplied from the registrar.

The government departments that can be contacted in one go using the Tell Us Once service include:

  • The tax office
  • The DVLA
  • The UK Passport Agency
  • HMRC for tax purposes
  • Local services such as council tax services, electoral services, libraries, etc.

Not all local authorities offer the Tell Us Once service though. So, in this case, you’ll need to contact the above departments yourself.

On top of these listed departments, you may need to contact the following organisations as well:

  • Employer
  • Insurance company
  • Banks
  • Mortgage provider, housing association or council house office
  • Social services
  • Pension scheme provider
  • Utility companies
Mother and baby

3. Arranging a funeral service

Once the death has been registered, it’s time to start thinking about a funeral.

Your loved one may have left their funeral wishes, instructions, or left details on a funeral they’ve already paid for. But if they haven’t left any clear funeral wishes, the nearest relative will likely decide what should happen, such as the type of funeral that will take place.

Arranging a funeral can not only be stressful, but quite expensive too. In fact, the average funeral cost for a burial is £4,383, whilst the average for a cremation is £3,290.

It doesn’t have to be this expensive though, there are ways around it. We’ll explain how.

Choose a direct cremation from Celebration of Life

As Great Britain’s trusted direct cremation provider, we can help you save up to 75% compared to the average funeral costs. With a simple, easy to arrange process that’s available 24 hours a day. For just a fee of £950, we’ll collect your loved one, care for them at our mortuary facilities, arrange a date for cremation with you, and return the ashes in an urn so that you can celebrate at a time that suits everyone. It really is that simple.

For more information on our direct cremation service, and to find out exactly what’s included head over to our direct cremation page or contact our friendly team at Celebration of Life today. We’re available 24/7 and always happy to answer any questions you have.

Direct cremation