When someone dies, there are many things that you will need to take care of, from registering the death to notifying particular organisations. Understanding what you need to do may help ease some of the stress or confusion you may be feeling.
Day 1: Obtain a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death
As soon as someone dies, you should call a doctor. They'll be able to issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death and will be on hand to answer any questions you may have.
You will then need to find a funeral director, and arrange for the deceased to be collected and brought into their care.
Days 2-5: Register the death
You must register the death in the country where your loved one died. You'll need to find a register office in the area where the death occurred and make an appointment.
You'll also need to bring certain documents with you, such as the deceased's passport and Birth Certificate.
Days 5-8: Make funeral arrangements
You should then begin making funeral arrangements with your chosen funeral director. You'll need to consider the type of funeral, coffin, travel arrangements, and other details such as flowers and readings.
Days 8+: Deal with the estate
If your loved one left behind a will, the named 'executor' will deal with the estate. If there isn't a will, a relative will be appointed as an 'administrator' in order to deal with this.
Inform Tell Us Once about the death within the first two weeks. They will tell authorities and government services that your loved one has passed away, rather than having to contact each authority separately. The deceased's social media accounts will need to be dealt with too.
These guides answer some of the most frequently asked questions after a death, 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 repatriate a body?
If a loved one dies abroad and you would like to bring them back to their country of residence for burial or cremation, we can help.
Dignity offers a full body repatriation service and will be able to arrange for your loved one to be brought back home for the funeral. Your local Funeral Director will take care of all the details, supporting you throughout the entire process.
Read our full guide: Body repatriation
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
How do I handle the deceased's finances?
When a loved one dies, how you deal with their estate will depend on whether or not they left behind a will.
We've created a series of guides which explain how to manage a loved one's bank accounts, mortgage and debt when they die.
Read our financial guides : Dealing with finances after a death
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
Has someone passed away?
Your local Funeral Director will be able to arrange for your loved one to be collected and brought into their care at the soonest available time.
They'll guide you every step of the way, from the moment your loved one passes away to making all of the necessary funeral arrangements.
Search for your local Funeral Director