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When someone dies it can be a very emotional time and this can make it hard to know what practical things you need to do next.
On this page we’ll explain:
When someone dies, the first steps you need to take will depend on how and where they died.
> Call the family doctor and nearest relative immediately.
If the death was expected, the doctor will give you a medical certificate showing the cause of death.
They’ll also give you a formal notice saying they’ve signed the medical certificate and telling you how to register the death.
If the person is to be cremated, you’ll need two certificates signed by different doctors.
The hospital will usually issue a medical certificate and formal notice.
The body will usually be kept in the hospital mortuary until the funeral directors or relatives arrange a chapel of rest, or for the body to be taken home.
If someone dies unexpectedly, or the family doctor hasn’t seen them in the last 14 days, the death is reported to a coroner.
A coroner is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating unexpected deaths. They may call for a post-mortem or inquest. This may take some time, so the funeral may need to be delayed.
If someone dies abroad, register the death according to the regulations of the country and get a consulate death certificate. Register it with the British Consul in the country too, so a record can be kept in the UK.
The GOV.UK website offers two leaflets which explain the practical support British consular staff can offer and what you need to do.
Read the leaflets
You need to register the death within five days. Here’s a step-by-step guide how to do that:
You can use any one, but it’s best to use the one in the area where the person died.
When you go to the register office, you’ll need to take with you the medical certificate showing the cause of death, signed by a doctor. If possible, also take the person’s:
You will have to tell the registrar:
When you have provided the required information, the registrar will give you:
If you need to you can buy extra death certificates – these will be needed for the will and any claims to pensions, savings, etc.
It’s best to pay for several copies, because copies required at a later date may be more expensive.
Ordinary photocopies aren’t accepted by some organisations, such as banks or life insurance companies.
The registrar may tell you about the free Tell Us Once service if it’s offered in that area. This lets you report a death to several government departments in one go, either online or by telephone.
You will need to get a Tell Us Once reference number from the registrar.
When someone dies, you must get in touch with certain organisations to let them know as soon as possible.
(TIP: You may be able to use the Tell Us Once service to do some of this if the registrar has given you the details.)
You need to:
You may need to contact other organisations as well, such as:
You should send any Lasting Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney they had back to the Office of the Public Guardian, along with a death certificate, if you were their attorney.
Find out more about Power of Attorney
When someone dies there's often a lot to deal with – their paperwork, finances, legal issues, property, as well as coping with your own emotional reaction to their death.
Here are some things you may need to consider and where you can go for further information:
For help coping financially, see our pages on Bereavement benefits
For more emotional support, see our pages on bereavement
Get more information on dealing with the estate
For more information arranging a funeral, see our factsheet
For more information:
Call Age UK Advice: 0800 169 2081
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