What to do when someone dies
It is perfectly normal to be unsure of what to do when someone dies. Simplicity Cremations are here to walk you through the first steps after death, so you can get things done the right way. Don't forget, we are available for support at all hours should you need us.
When someone dies, particularly someone you were close to, it can be a very emotional and confusing time. If you are responsible for making the funeral arrangements it can be difficult to know what you need to do. Besides letting family and friends know, there are practical arrangements and steps to take when someone dies such as notifying certain organisations. We’ve created a guide that explains what to do when someone dies.
What to do immediately after someone dies
If someone dies at home and their death was expected
During the day
When someone dies at home and the death was expected for example due a terminal illness, the person’s GP should be called. If you are unable to contact their GP for any reason, you should call the NHS helpline on 111.
If you loved one passes away at home during the night, you should call the NHS helpline (dial 111) and they will advise you on what to do next. You can wait until the next morning to call the person’s GP.
Has someone passed away at home?
If your loved one passes away at home, you will need to contact your chosen funeral provider to arrange for the collection of their body.
At Simplicity, we can collect your loved one at any hour of the day. Please note that if your loved one passes away at home, in a care home or hospice there will be a charge of £250 for their collection to cover their care in our quality mortuary facilities. If you would like you loved one to be collected out of 9am-5pm on working weekdays, there will also be an out of hours charge of £195.
If someone dies at home and the death was unexpected
If someone dies at home and the death was unexpected, you should call 999 as soon as possible and ask for an ambulance. The operator will provide you with instructions, and establish whether you can try to resuscitate the person. Upon arrival, the paramedics will attempt resuscitation or confirm the death.
If the cause of death is unknown or the death was unexpected, the police or paramedics will arrange for the collection of the deceased and transport into the coroner’s care. You will be able to arrange for your loved one’s collection from the coroners by your chosen funeral provider, when the coroner releases the body.
In both instances, if you are not the person’s next of kin or a close relative, you should notify them as soon as possible.
What to do when someone dies: step by step
Step 1: Get a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD)
A medical certificate will be issued by a doctor that will confirm the death, if the cause is known. If the person died at home, their GP will be able to issue this personally (or you may be asked to collect it from the GP’s receptionist). If the person died in hospital or a care home, the staff will provide you with the medical certificate of cause of death.
A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death includes the following information about the deceased:
- Place of death
- Cause of death
If a doctor is unsure about how the person died, the death is unexpected or suspicious or doctor had not seen the deceased in the 14 days prior to their death the coroner may be contacted so that a post-mortem or inquest can be carried out. This may take some time, which can delay funeral arrangements.
If you are planning to cremate your loved one rather than burying them, please make their GP or the hospital aware of this as soon as possible as different forms will need to be obtained, which will need to be signed by two different doctors. The first form is known as the Certificate of Medical Attendant (or Form 4). This is often signed by the same doctor who issued the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. The second form is known as the Confirmatory Medical Certificate (or Form CR5), This form is completed by a different doctor, who will check and confirm the details provided by the first. As this is an additional process required for cremation, there is a fee of £164 for the completion of these forms, this covers the cost of the two forms and is composed of two payments of £82. These fees are not applicable in all cases, for instance in the death is referred to a coroner.
This is an extremely important step as without the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, you will not be able to register the death.
Step 2: Register the death
The next step in the process when someone dies is to register the death. You can use the UK Government website to begin to register a death. You will need to do this within 5 days in England and Wales (or within 8 days for Scotland). In most cases, you will need to be a relative of the deceased or someone with recognised authority over the proceedings to be able to register the death.
If the death has been reported to the coroner, you cannot register the death until the coroner’s investigations (a post-mortem or inquest) are complete.
To register the death, you can go to any registry office but if you use the one in the area where the person has died you’ll be given the documents you’ll need on the day. If you use a different registry office, the documents will be sent to the office in the area where the person has died before they are issued to you – this may cause a delay.
Take the following documents belonging to the deceased, if available:
- medical certificate of death (provided to by the person’s GP or the hospital
- birth certificate
- marriage or civil partnership certificate
- NHS medical card
The registrar will need to know:
- the person’s full name
- maiden name (if applicable)
- their date of birth
- their place of birth
- their last address
- their occupation
- the full name, date of birth and occupation of their spouse
- if they were receiving a state pension or benefits
We have created a guide which includes more information on how to register a death.
Step 3: Contact your chosen funeral provider
One of the next steps to take when someone dies is to decide on the type of funeral the deceased would have wanted.
When it comes to arranging a funeral, there are a number of decisions for you to make, including whether the deceased would have wanted a burial or cremation and a funeral with or without a service. The deceased may have left details about their funeral wishes in their will, or alongside other paperwork they have left behind. You are under no obligation to follow their wishes, but when someone has left their funeral wishes, most families decide to honour these.
Opting for a Simplicity Cremation will mean you do not have to engage the services of a Funeral Director or visit a branch saving both your time and money, and what will be an emotional time for you and your family. The process can be started with one simple phone call to our team of funeral professionals. At Simplicity, our funerals are available from £995 throughout the whole of mainland Great Britain.
For more information about arranging a funeral, download our arranging a funeral guide now.
Please note, the funeral can only take place after the cause of death has been confirmed and the death is registered. When you register the death, the registrar will provide you with a green certificate will allows a burial or cremation to go ahead. You should give this form to your chosen funeral provider.
Step 4: Notify the government and relevant organisations
In the week’s following the death, you’ll need to start advising various organisations. Many people are unsure who you need to inform when someone dies, so we have listed the most common considerations below.
You can notify several government offices in one go using the Tell Us Once service. This is a free service and available in most areas of England, Wales and Scotland. If this service isn’t available to you, you’ll need to contact the relevant departments directly.
If you're notifying organisations individually, contact:
- HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC)
- Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
- Passport Office
- Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
- Local Council
It’s important to inform banks and other financial providers of a death. The Death Notification Service is the simplest way to do this as it notifies a number of banks and building societies at the same time.
Property and bills
You will also need to notify organisations with which the person was a named account holder. Including:
- Mortgage providers or landlord
- Utility and communications providers
- Insurance providers
- Private pensions
You may also consider redirecting the post of the person who has died by filling in a Special Circumstances form and taking it to your local Post Office.
What to do when someone dies checklist
Download our free what to do when someone dies checklist to guide you through the process.
Why choose Simplicity Cremations?
Not everyone wants a traditional funeral, and many do not see the value in some of the more ceremonial aspects.
When you arrange a funeral with Simplicity, you can rest assured we will be here to guide you through the process of what to do when someone dies, every step of the way. All it takes is one phone call to start the process.
For more help on what to do when someone dies or to arrange a funeral, contact us. We’re available 24 hour a day, 7 days a week, so we’ll be here when you need us most.