When you lose someone close to you, it can be very confusing and oftentimes overwhelming. Not only have you got your own emotions to deal with, but there are also funeral arrangements and personal affairs for you to handle. And these are only a few of the things you’ve got to sort out. Many people are confused about what to do after a death. Having a checklist can be very helpful, which prompted us to create one so that you know what to do when someone dies.
In this guide, we’ll break down all the steps you need to take, what you need to do as soon as possible and what can wait. With a checklist to refer to, the death of a loved one becomes a little less painful.
What to do immediately after a death
If your loved one dies in a hospital or nursing home where a doctor was present, the staff on hand at the time will handle most of the administrative tasks on your behalf. However, if your loved one dies at home, the job of handling those details may fall to you. The amount of paperwork you have to deal with might take you by surprise. To make sure you cover all the essential steps, here’s a list of the things you must do immediately after a death.
Request a medical certificate
As soon as you can, you need to get a medical certificate. This is essential so you can register the death and arrange the funeral. A death certificate is issued immediately after a person’s death unless there is a coroner’s inquest.
If your loved one dies in a hospital or a care home, they will give you the certificate. What do you do when someone dies at home? If they die at home, it’s your responsibility to call their GP.
A medical certificate is free.
What do you need to register the death
In England, Wales, or Northern Ireland, you must register a person’s death within five days. In Scotland, the time frame increases to eight days. What happens if you don’t register a death within 5 days? It’s possible to delay registration only if there’s a coroner’s inquest.
Where you register the death depends on where the deceased lived at the time of their death. Youmust register the death at:
- The Register Office, if they were living in England and Wales
- The District Registration Office, if they were living in Northern Ireland
- The Registrar of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, if they were living in Scotland
Registering the death of a loved one will cost you nothing. However, there is a fee for a certificate. In England and Wales, you’ll pay £11. In Scotland, you pay £12, and in Northern Ireland, you’ll pay £15.
When you register a death and request a death certificate in the UK, it’s also an excellent time to request copies of the certificate as well. If you wait until later down the line, the cost of a copy will be higher.
How to register a death? You need the following information:
- Full name including any previous names
- Date and place of birth
- Last address
- Full name, date of birth, and occupation of their surviving/late spouse or civil partner, if they were married
- Medical certificate with the cause of death
Other documentation that might come in handy:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage or civil partnership certificate
- National insurance number
- NHS medical card
- Proof of address, such as a utility bill
- Driving license
You will also need to take identification for yourself, such as a driving licence or passport.
Find out about any wishes or funeral plans of the deceased
If you’ve had the opportunity to talk to your loved one about their wishes for a funeral or burial, it makes this step much more straightforward. However, family members don’t commonly discuss funeral arrangements with their dear ones.
If you haven’t discussed their wishes, you’ll need to look for a letter of instruction in the deceased paperwork. It might also be in the hands of their solicitor.
You might have to call a family meeting if you can’t find any instructions. You’ll need to discuss what the person wanted in terms of a funeral, what you can afford, and the family’s wishes.
Consider organ donation
You can determine whether your loved one wanted to donate their organs by checking if they registered with NHS Organ Donor Register. Organ donation is time-sensitive, so it’s vital you act quickly.
Arrange body transportation
If your loved one expressed any wishes about their funeral or made prepayments to a funeral home or cemetery, you must follow their wishes. If there are no known wishes or plans, there are two options.
Once you’ve registered the death, you can make arrangements for their funeral, including their body’s transportation. This is generally done through a funeral director, although it is possible to make the arrangements yourself.
Take care of their property, pets, or dependants
If your loved one had the responsibility for one or more people or pets, you need to find someone to take care of them temporarily while you work out a long-term plan.
If they were living on their own at the time of their death, you must make sure their property and vehicles are safe and securely locked up.
Who to contact when someone dies
Once you’ve made all the previous arrangements, you need to start notifying various organisations about the death.
- Their landlord and other organisations: You have to notify them as soon as possible. As well as the landlord, you should also inform organisations such as housing association or council housing offices, mortgage providers, employers, and utility providers.
- Government departments: These include the Passport Office, HM Revenue & Customs, Department for Work and Pensions, Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, Local Council, public sector, or armed forces pension scheme.
- Insurers and creditors: these include bank or building society, credit card companies, insurance companies, pension providers, and any other companies that owed the deceased money or the deceased owed money to them
Who is the next of kin when someone dies?
There is no legal order of next of kin UK status, according to UK law. The term can be open to interpretation. Generally, however, it refers to the person who has, or had, the closest relationship with a person who has died.
Family's tend to work out the next of kin between themselves, but it can also be an added compilation at a time when emotions are already running high.
The NHS identifies next of kin based on the family members they can trace at the time. However, if someone is well enough to identify their own next of kin on the hospital admission form, they can pick anyone they want. It might be a partner, close friend, and not necessarily a family member.
If someone dies alone, and there are no contactable next of kin, the local council of the city, town, or village in which the person died will make the necessary funeral arrangements and handle their estate. The council will conduct a public health funeral, also known as a “pauper’s funeral”. This is also an option if the deceased family is wondering how to plan a funeral with no money.
A public health funeral includes a simple service, a coffin, and the services of a funeral director who will oversee the cremation or burial. If space is at a premium, as it is in some UK areas, the deceased will be buried in a mass grave with no marker to commemorate their burial.
Things to do within a day or two after someone dies
Most people arrange a funeral through a funeral director. It is possible, however, to make the arrangements yourself.
Arrange all the funeral documents
There is a lot of paperwork involved with a funeral, and it’s important to have all the funeral documents prepared and close to hand. When registering a death, the registrar will usually give you a certificate for burial or cremation. This form is known as the green form. If you’re using a funeral director, you provide them with this form, as a funeral cannot occur without it.
Additional forms are required, depending on whether you choose cremation or burial. Your funeral director will handle most of these, but if you’re making the arrangements yourself, you’ll need:
- An application form to purchase a grave plot or to bury the deceased in a plot that is already owned
- Cremation Form 1 is an application to cremate the body of a person who has died
Plan a funeral
If you’ve decided to work with a funeral director they will go through your options, the types of funeral ceremonies and help you plan a funeral service. Here are some of your options:
- Direct cremation: A funeral director’s services are not needed as this ceremony is organised directly by a loved one of the deceased. It’s a low-cost option that allows you to bid farewell in a fuss-free and straightforward way.
- Religious funeral
- Woodland burial
- Eco burial
- Traditional funeral
How to plan a funeral memorial service
More and more people are separating the cremation from the celebration of life. The reason for this is that a memorial service opens up a wealth of possibilities for saying a special and more personal good-bye to a loved one. There’s more time for those left behind to think about what they want to do to share unique memories of their loved one with a separate ceremony.
Remember them always and celebrate their life
Coming to terms with a loss is a challenging process to go through. A celebration of life can have a positive impact on the process.
And the celebrations don’t have to stop there. An increasing number of people are looking for ways to celebrate and remember a loved one online.
What to do after the funeral
In this section, we’ll look very briefly at all the things you should do after the funeral.
Memorise or close social media accounts
People often make assumptions about death and social media. You’d be wrong to assume that a loved one’s social media accounts would close automatically after a period of inactivity. It’s not always the case, and each platform handles the situation differently.
Of course, there is the option to memorise their social media account or create an online memorial page such as Pure Cremation’s Pure Memories.
Consult with a trusts and estates lawyer
When a person dies, it triggers a series of legal obligations, some of which are time-sensitive, and you must carry them out according to the law. You may wish to consult with a trusts and estates lawyer and familiarise yourself with the process and responsibilities.
Check what the estate includes
To check what is in the estate, you need to find all the financial documentation belonging to the person who died. If an estate is incredibly complicated, it is advisable to use a probate specialist.
Cancel any billing services
You should make a list of essential expenses, such as mortgage, taxes, and utilities. While making this list, you may come across services such as cable, internet, Netflix, and mobile phone contracts that are no longer needed. You should notify these companies of the death of your loved one and cancel the service.
Register with the bereavement register
You can reduce the amount of unwanted marketing post being sent to a loved one who has passed away. The bereavement register is a free service. Within as little as six weeks, the names and addresses of the deceased can be removed from most mailing lists.
Power of attorney after death
If your loved one named you in a lasting power of attorney, this legal document is only valid during their lifetime. When your loved one passes away, the Lasting Power of Attorney ends.
Coping with grief and loss of a loved one
When you’ve taken care of all the bureaucracy and paperwork, and the funeral and memorial service have taken place, you may suddenly find yourself dealing with grief. Grief is a natural response, and there’s no right or wrong way to deal with it. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, faith, and how significant the loss was.
The critical thing to remember is to take care of your family and yourself. There are stages of grief you have to go through before you can close the grief cycle. The stages are:
- Anger and bargaining
We all deal with grief in different ways. Pure Cremation can help you make the arrangements for a loved one’s cremation as well as provide expert guidance and help to get things started.