Dignity

Funeral Services

When someone dies, there are many things that you will need to take care of, from registering the death to notifying particular organisations. For each stage of the process, you’ll find useful information below.

Here is a breakdown of the steps to take when someone dies:

What to do immediately when someone dies

The first steps when someone dies will depend on how and where the person passed away. In most cases, the first thing you will need to do is call the deceased's GP. They should be able to issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. The following information will explain what you need to straight away.


What to do when someone dies at home

If someone dies at home, the things you will need to do will depend on whether the death was expected or unexpected, and whether it occurred in the day or at night.

Read our full guide: What to do when someone dies at home


What to do when someone dies in hospital 

If a loved one has unfortunately passed away in hospital, the next of kin or closest family members will be informed immediately. 

Read our full guide: What to do when someone dies in hospital


What to do when someone dies in a care home

If someone passes away whilst in a care home, the staff should contact the next of kin immediately. You should call the deceased's GP or 111 straight away, although the care home may do this on your behalf. The care home staff will usually give you some time alone with your loved one. They should also be able to professionally advise you on what to do next should you need further guidance.


What to do when someone dies unexpectedly

If someone dies suddenly or unexpectedly, call 999 straight away to request an ambulance and the police. You will need to stay on the line and follow any instructions given to you. The emergency services will often contact a coroner, or a procurator fiscal in Scotland, to investigate the death.


What to do when someone dies abroad

If someone dies abroad, you will need to register the death according to the regulations of the country in which your loved one has passed and get a consulate death certificate. You will also need to register the death in the UK.

Has a loved one passed away?

If someone has passed away, please contact our 24/7 support team as soon as you can. We are here to guide you every step of the way.

0800 456 1047

What are the first steps to take when someone dies?

Follow our step-by-step guides to understand what key things you need to do when someone dies

What to do when someone dies checklist

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What to do when someone dies: FAQs

These guides answer some of the most frequently asked questions about what to do when someone dies, helping you understand each and every stage of the process.

If you're still unsure of the steps to take when someone dies, of if you would like further information, contact your local Funeral Director. They'll be able to offer professional and expert advice when you need it most. 


What do you do when someone dies and a coroner is involved?

A coroner is typically appointed by the local authority to investigate a death when:

  • The cause of death is unknown
  • The death was sudden, violent or unnatural
  • The person died in prison or custody
  • The identity of the person who has died is uncertain or unknown
  • A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death isn’t available

It is the coroner’s duty to identify how, when and where the person died for official records, as well as for the benefit of the bereaved.

Read our full guide: What does a coroner do?

What do you do when someone dies and they were an organ donor?

If a relative sadly dies and you’re unsure if they were registered as an organ donor, the NHS will contact you and ask you to confirm that they had not changed their mind before passing away.

If they chose to donate their body to medical science, the medical school will usually arrange for donated bodies to be cremated, unless you specifically request for your loved one to be returned for a private burial or cremation. They may also hold a committal or memorial service to honour the deceased.

The cost of the cremation is often covered by the medical school; however, they don’t usually cover further funeral arrangements or burials.

Read our full guide: Organ and body donation after death

What is embalming?

Embalming delays changes to the body which occur when someone dies, giving your loved one a more restful appearance. Whilst there is no legal obligation to embalm someone when they die, it is still a very popular choice in the UK.

Read our full guide: The embalming process

Should I visit the Chapel of Rest?

Many people choose to visit their loved one in a chapel of rest so that they can pay their respects and help with the grieving process, but some people prefer not to; there is no right or wrong decision.

If you do decide to arrange a visit, our Funeral Directors provide private and tranquil chapels of rest which can be personalised to reflect the life of your loved one. We will be able to arrange a suitable day and time for you to visit, usually a couple of days before the day of the funeral.

Read our full guide: Visiting a Chapel of Rest

How do I deal with my loved one's estate after death?

The death of someone triggers a series of legal obligations which are often time-sensitive and must be carried out within the letter of the law. In most cases, these duties are straightforward and assumed by the surviving spouse or heirs. In some cases, however, it may be better to consider the services of an independent legal provider.

This guide explains the legal terminology and the basic tasks involved in handling an estate after death.

Read our full guide: Dealing with an estate after the death of a loved one

What happens if someone dies with or without a will?

What happens if someone dies and leaves a will?

When someone dies and leaves a will, you will need to locate the original copy, apply for probate and pay any remaining inheritance tax.

Read our full guide: What to do when someone dies with a will


What happens if someone dies without a will?

If your loved one hasn't left a will behind, it means that they have not specified who their inheritance should go to. If someone dies without a will in place, only certain people are legally allowed to apply for probate, or to be the administrator.

Read our full guide: What to do when someone dies without a will

How do I tell people about the death?

Having to let people know that someone has passed away can be a very difficult and stressful thing to go through. No matter what you say, nothing can ever truly prepare them for such upsetting news. You may place an obituary in a local newspaper to tell people about the passing of a loved one. We also offer an online Funeral Notice Service that is exclusive to our clients.

Read our full guide: Letting people know a loved one has died

Which organisations should I notify after a death?

When a loved one passes away, you will need to notify various organisations about the death as soon as possible. These will include banks, building societies, health professionals and utility companies.

These online services will help you and your family notify various organisations about the death:

  • The Tell Us Once service will allow you to notify a person's death to various government departments at the same time

  • The Death Notification Service has been created to allow you to notify a person’s death to a number of banks and building societies at the same time

  • The Bereavement Register will help you reduce the amount of unwanted marketing post being sent to a loved one who has passed away

Read our full guide: Who to notify after a death

How do I deal with online and social media accounts when someone dies?

Dealing with your loved one's social media accounts and emails might not be at the top of your priority list after they've passed away. However, you might find that turning to their social media accounts and scrolling through memories helps you to grieve.

When someone dies, there are three options for how you can deal with their digital legacy:

  • Memorialise their accounts
  • Delete their accounts
  • Leave their accounts open

Read our full guide: Dealing with social media accounts after death

How do I choose a funeral director?

Choosing an experienced and professional funeral director will help ease the burden and stress of arranging a funeral for your loved one. At Dignity, we strive to set the highest standards for funeral services, facilities and care.

Read our full guide: How to choose a funeral director