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What to do when a death happens

March 14, 2013


Whenever a death happens at home, even if the result of a long illness and expected or not, it is still distressing to all those concerned such as family and friends.

In all such cases the deceased's GP/Doctor should be called in order for the death to be certified. Once the GP/Doctor has arrived, and if the person who died was in a care home, then the deceased's family will be notified by the Manager / Deputy Manager of the Care Home.  The families will sometimes be asked if they would like to visit the deceased at the Home, as this can be arranged.

Additionally, the family will be asked the name of their preferred and chosen funeral director.

Shortly after the death the GP/Doctor will issue a medical certificate which will give the cause of death, and will be made available for collection at the GP/Doctor's surgery as the medical certificate is essential for the death to be registered.  If the GP/Doctor attending is not able to establish the cause of death or the deceased has not been seen by a GP/Doctor within 14 days, then the GP/Doctor will refer the deceased to the Coroner.

How to register a death

Once everything is in order and the Medical Certificate been issued the death must be registered at the Registry Office in the area/district where the death happened. This must be done within 5 days of the death occurring.  It is also required that you make an appointment to attend the Registry Office.

The General Register Office oversees civil registration in England and Wales. They maintain the national archive of all births, marriages and deaths:

Search for your local register office:

If you are unable to attend, for whatever reason, the Registry Office, which covers the area where the death occurred you can by arrangement attend a Registry Office of your choice, provided you have all the required particulars of the deceased, in order to ensure you can make a declaration. This will then be forwarded to the area where the death occurred for registration. There might be a delay with the certificates being released and so any arrangements for the funeral cannot take place until the death has been registered.

If your husband, wife or civil partner has died you may be able to get Bereavement Payment: a one-off, tax-free, lump-sum payment of £2,000.

For more help on how to deal with bereavement, please click on the following link:

Helpful Contact Numbers:                

Cruse Bereavement Care             0844 477 9400   

Probate Helpline                              0800 30 20 900   - also known as The probate and inheritance tax helpline. For more information, please click on:

Bereavement Gard is a service being offered free to the public by funeral directors who are members of the NAFD to guard against uninvited marketing calls. Tel No:  0800 781 0999  

Documents required to register a death:

Documentation and Information for Registering a Death:

• The Medical Certificate of the cause of death.