What to do when somebody dies

Even if it’s been expected, when someone dies it can feel overwhelming. As well as the emotional impact this has on your family, you’ll also be wondering what needs to be done in order to prepare for a funeral.

Whether it’s knowing what paperwork needs completing, or finding financial support, it’s important to remember you’re not alone.

One thing at a time

Confirming the death

When someone dies you will need a medical certificate to confirm the cause of death. If they have died at home and it was expected, the GP will be able to do this for you. However, an out of hours on-call doctor can also do this for you, as can a paramedic or specially trained nurse.

If someone has died in a care home or hospice, this will usually be done for you by the care home staff.

However, if the person has died unexpectedly, then you’ll need to contact the emergency services. At this point, sometimes the coroner might get involved and may request a post-mortem to determine the cause of death.

Once the death has been confirmed and you have a medical certificate to state the cause of death, you can then apply for a death certificate at the local register office. This needs to be done within 5 days (or 8 days in Scotland) unless you waiting for a coroner’s report.

Registering the death

When you go the register office, you will get three important pieces of paperwork.

  • The Certificate for Burial or Cremation
  • Form BD8
  • Death certificate

The Certificate for Burial or Cremation needs to be handed to your funeral director so that they can finalise the funeral arrangements. Meanwhile, the BD8 form, also known as the White Certificate, needs to be filled in and sent off to the local benefits office where they will work out your loved one’s position regarding state pensions or benefits.

The death certificate will be issued to you, but it’s a good idea to get additional copies of this document as you’ll need it for solicitors and actioning the will, pension claims, dealing with insurance policies, and sorting out bank accounts and investments.

Choosing a funeral director

It’s important to take your time and choose the funeral director that’s the right fit for you and your family. If the person who has died has a funeral plan, they may already have chosen one – and taken care of many of the details.

As well as taking care of your loved one and making the funeral arrangements, your funeral director will also be able to handle a lot of the paperwork involved during this time.

Making the arrangements

We understand that there’s a lot to consider when planning a funeral; cremation or burial, coffins and urns, order of service, music, flowers. But there’s no rush. Remember to take your time. Our funeral directors will make sure you’re able to consider all the options with full transparency of costs involved, so that you can plan a funeral that works for your family.

Accepting help

If possible, try to accept help during this time. It could be from a family member helping to notify friends and family, or it could be in the form of professional bereavement support. It’s important to remember you are not alone.

If you are worried about the financial cost of the funeral, you may be entitled to help from the government or third party support. If you would like advice on this, please speak with one of the team and we’ll be happy to help.

Get in touch or arrange a call back

You can call us anytime on 0208 529 1530 or send us a message and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible. Please let us know if you’d prefer to receive an email rather than a telephone call (or vice versa).