When a death which has been expected occurs at home or at a nursing home, the Doctor who has been treating the deceased should be contacted. The Doctor or a colleague will either attend to confirm that death has occurred, or will give permission for the deceased to be transferred to a Funeral Director’s premises, if this is your wish. You can then contact the Funeral Director of your choice, who will attend to transfer the deceased to their premises.
If a relative who has been a hospital inpatient dies, the Doctors who have been treating the deceased will usually be able to issue the Medical Certificate. Ask the ward staff or Doctor what you need to do to collect this Certificate, or ring your local Funeral Director for advice and contact numbers.
Most Hospitals will give family Members the opportunity to sit with the deceased before transfer from the ward or private room. The deceased will then be taken to the mortuary, prior to collection by your chosen Funeral Director.
The Doctor can only issue the Certificate if he knows the cause of death, and has been treating the deceased for this illness in the last 14 days. If this is not the case, or if there are other circumstances involved (such as a recent operation, or a possible industrial disease), the Doctor will have to refer the death to the Coroner.
If the death has occurred at home, the Coroner will arrange for the deceased to be taken into his custody, in order that the death can be investigated.
It is the Coroner’s responsibility to ascertain the cause of death. The vast majority of deaths that are reported to the Coroner are discovered to be from natural causes – only a small proportion require further investigation. The Coroner will conduct a Post Mortem examination of the deceased, which involves examination of the organs to ascertain the cause of the death. The Coroner does not require permission to investigate a death within his/her jurisdiction, and cannot be prevented from doing so.
In certain circumstances, the Coroner may investigate a death even when the person has been ill for some time. The Coroner has to investigate deaths from diseases which may have been caused by the deceased’s occupation, or deaths after recent operations, to ensure that public interest has been served.
If you have already asked a funeral firm to transfer the deceased to their premises, you can still use a different firm to deal with the funeral arrangements. The Company you contact to deal with the funeral will arrange for the transfer of the deceased to their premises. It will still be necessary for you to pay the other firm for the removal of the deceased.
All deaths have to be registered, and the people closest to the deceased have a legal obligation to do this. Deaths in England and Wales or Northern Ireland should be registered within 5 days – if this is not going to be possible, you should inform the Registrar. In Scotland, deaths must be registered within 8 days.
In England and Wales, the death has to be registered at the Registrar’s Office in the area where the death occurred. This is the case even if the death occurred a distance from home.
However there is a facility available to attend your local Registrar’s Office to register a death that occurred in another area. This is called ‘Registration by Declaration’, and involves the two Registrars transferring documents by fax and post in order to register the death. Depending on the circumstances, this can delay the date of the funeral – ask your Funeral Director for advice.
In order to register the death, you will need to obtain a Medical Certificate from the Doctor who was treating the deceased during the last illness. When the Coroner is involved, this Certificate is replaced by one from the Coroner.
If you have the deceased’s Birth or Marriage Certificates to hand you can take them along to the Registrar, but the documents will not be retained. All that is required is the information contained on them e.g. the deceased’s place and date of birth, and maiden name if applicable.
DSS Form. This should be taken or sent to your DSS Office with any pension or benefit books in the deceased’s name, or in joint names. This is also used to assess whether a surviving partner is eligible for benefits such as Widows Benefit.
Funeral Director’s Form. This is green, and should be given to your Funeral Director to allow the funeral to take place. NB: If the Coroner has investigated the death, and cremation is required, this will be replaced with a form which the Coroner will send direct to the Funeral Director.
Death Certificates. These are copies of the Register Entry, and are the Certificates required by Banks, Insurance Companies etc. to attend to the deceased’s affairs.
No. Arranging the funeral involves your Funeral Director discussing with you the type of funeral required, and offering you advice and information as appropriate. This can be done as soon as you have made certain decisions about the funeral – e.g. whether it is to be a burial or cremation.
Then, once you have registered the death, you can arrange with your Funeral Director for the green form to be handed over.
No – there is no requirement to hold a religious funeral service, and there are a number of alternatives. Perhaps a relative or friend could take the service if they feel able to do so. Other Members of the congregation could speak or read verses or poems. The British Humanist Association has a network of officiants who will provide a very personal non-religious ceremony. Ask your Funeral Director for more information or to organise a Humanist ceremony.
Funeral Directors who are Members of the National Association of Funeral Directors abide by a Code of Practice which ensures that they treat their clients and the public fairly. Members are required to have price lists available showing the cost of the services they provide.
If you have chosen a Funeral Director who is a Member of the National Association of Funeral Directors, you will receive a confirmation of arrangements before the funeral takes place. This ensures that you are aware of the costs of the funeral you have arranged, and forms the basis of the contract between yourself and the funeral firm.
The DSS Social Fund awards financial assistance to individuals who meet a number of criteria. To qualify, you, and all other family Members who share your responsibility for the funeral, must be receiving at least one of several benefits, and have insufficient savings to pay for the funeral.
The DSS Funeral Payment will provide a limited amount, which may cover a very basic funeral, or provide a contribution towards a more traditional funeral.