There is a bewildering amount of information online regarding what to do when someone dies at home. To cut through the noise and make the process as clear as possible, we have written the following guide.
We hope that it will make things easier for you at an incredibly challenging time.
Was the death expected?
If someone dies at home, there are two different courses of action to follow. They depend on whether the death was expected or not. If the person was seriously ill and the death was therefore expected, the first thing to do is to call their GP or the doctor who was caring for them.
In some cases, for instance if you are calling outside of hours, you may be unable to get hold of the GP. You should instead dial 111 for the NHS helpline and arrange for a medical professional to come to the house. Either the person’s GP or another doctor will need to verify the death and provide a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. You can then call us on 0800 133 7961 and we will arrange for your loved one to be taken into our care.
Was the death unexpected?
On the other hand, if a loved one dies at home without any warning, you need to immediately call 999. Both an ambulance and the police should be contacted in this instance.
It is possible that the cause of death in this situation will not be apparent to the medical practitioner who arrives at your house. They may therefore have to call a coroner to investigate. The coroner will let the next of kin know when they are ready to release the deceased for the funeral.
Registering the death
Once the cause of death has been confirmed by a doctor, the next step is to register the death. Please note that if the coroner is involved there is no need to do this as the coroner will register it on your behalf.
Registering the death must be done within five days of the confirmation of death in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland you have eight days to complete this imperative task.
Registering a death should take place in the closest registrar office to where the person died. You can find where this is located using the UK government’s search tool here.
Who can register the death and what will they need?
In most cases, a relative of the deceased will register the death. However, a witness of the person’s death or the person responsible for arranging the funeral arrangements can also register it if necessary.
It is easier to register the death over the phone. The medical certificate is necessary to complete this step. We also advise that you get hold of the person’s birth certificate, NHS number, marriage or civil partnership certificate, driving license and some form of proof of the person’s address beforehand.
Registering a death will provide you with a death certificate. Additional copies of this document will cost £11 in England and Wales, £12 in Scotland, and £15 in Northern Ireland.
You will also receive a Certificate for Burial or Cremation free of charge. Referred to as a green form, this document may be sent straight to your funeral service provider as it is needed for the cremation to go ahead. If you are using our services then you can provide our email address and phone number: [email protected] / 0800 133 7961.
Informing the government
Although registering the death formally records that someone has died, you will also have to notify various government departments. Fortunately, the UK government has a function that enables you to alert the relevant departments in one phone call. You can find it here.
Arranging the funeral
Once you have registered the death, you can begin the funeral preparations. What form the funeral takes may depend on the wishes of the person who has died. Some people leave detailed guidance whereas others leave it to their family to decide.
Direct cremation, where the actual cremation is separate from any ceremony or service, is becoming an increasingly popular funeral option. These are also known as direct funerals or unattended cremation. DirectCremation.co.uk has been providing professional and dignified cremations since 2016.
We offer the cheapest direct cremation service in England or Wales at £895. This includes collection of the deceased from any hospital or mortuary, an environmentally-friendly coffin and of course, the private and individual cremation itself.