Experiencing the death of a loved one, whether sudden or expected, is extremely difficult. Knowing what to do after a loved on has died can be even more difficult - so we have made a helpful guide to assist you through this tough time

What to do if a loved one dies at home or a carehome

If the death is unexpected then you should call the police.

If the death was expected and a doctor had recently seen the deceased, call the doctor to inform them. The doctor will issue a medical certificate so you can register the death (which needs to be done within 5 days). You should also let the doctor know if the deceased is to be cremated.

If the doctor does not require a post mortem examination by a coroner then you are free to arrange the collection of the body.

For more advice, head to our previous blog on what to do when a loved one dies at home.

If a loved one dies in hospital

If a coroner is required for a post mortem examination then this will have to be done before a medical certificate can be provided.

Once you receive a medical certificate from the doctor you will be able to register the death (which must be done within 5 days).

You can then arrange for the collection of the body (you may be required to sign for the body to be released by the hospital).

what to do when a loved on dies

How to register a death in the UK 

Once you have the medical certificate you can register the death.

You can register online at https://www.gov.uk/register-a-death or you can book an appointment at the local town register office. You will have to contact the local town government online or by phone. This must be done in the town where death occurred.

Ask for a TELL US ONCE appointment with the registrar. This reports a death to most government organisations in one go.

For more information on how to register a death in the UK, head to our previous blog: How to register a death in the UK

What do I need to register a death

You must take the medical certificate showing the cause of death with you. You should also try to bring the person’s:

  • Birth certificate
  • NHS medical card
  • Proof of their address, like a utility bill
  • Council tax bill
  • Driving licence
  • Passport
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate

Don’t worry if you can’t find all these documents – you’ll still be able to register the death without them. The registrar will also want to know:

  • The person’s full name (at the time of their death)
  • Any other names that the person used (e.g. a maiden name)
  • Their date and place of birth, including the town and county if they were born in the UK,
  • Or, just the country if they were born abroad
  • Their last address
  • Their occupation or last occupation if now retired
  • The full name of their husband, wife or civil partner, if they’ve died
  • Details of any state pension or other state benefit they were receiving

Who can register the death

If the death occurred inside a house or public building such as a hospital, the following people may register the death:

  • A relative
  • Someone who was present at the death
  • The occupier of the house or an official from the public building where the death occurs, e.g. the hospital
  • The person making the arrangements with the funeral director

If the death took place elsewhere, the following list of people may register the death.

  • A relative
  • Someone who was present at the death
  • The person who found the body
  • The person who is in charge of the body
  • A funeral director is not allowed to register the death.

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