The First Steps To Take When Someone Passes Away

When someone close to you dies, it is obviously an extremely sad occasion for everyone connected with them.  However, there are some practicalities that must be attended to before you can begin to think about funeral arrangements or arranging a memorial service.

Here's a brief overview of the matters that require attending to immediately following a loved one's passing.

What to do first

The first thing you must do is notify all close family and friends of the deceased.  Unfortunately, if there are lots of people to contact, this can become a stressful and onerous task.  It's therefore helpful if you can ask a friend or relative to pitch in too. One person should not be left to do this all by themselves.

Health professionals

If they are not already aware that the person has died, you must notify the attending GP and other medical staff concerned in the care of the deceased in order that they can update their medical records. They will also provide you with other medical documents that will be needed so you can register the death.

Registering the death

Legally you must attend your local Register Office to register a death within five days.  

In order to register a death, you will need to make an appointment with the Register Office.  The process is straightforward and only takes about half an hour to complete, but you will need to have the following original documents with you in order to complete the process:

  • a medical certification giving details of the cause of death, signed by a medical professional
  • the deceased's birth certificate
  • the deceased's marriage (or civil partnership) certificate
  • the deceased's medical card

In addition to the above documentation, you will need to provide the registrar with the following information about the deceased:

  • their full name at the time they died
  • any other names they have used previously (e.g. maiden name)
  • their last address
  • their occupation
  • the full name, date of birth and occupation of any surviving partner or spouse

The registrar will also ask you if the deceased was receiving a state pension or any other benefits.  On completion of the registration, you will be issued with a certificate allowing you to have the deceased cremated or buried.  You will also be given a death certificate.  In the event that a post mortem is required, such as if the deceased died as the result of a fatal accident or was murdered, you will be issued these documents by the coroner as soon as practically possible.

Although it can be hard to focus on practicalities when someone you love has just died, it is very important that you take the steps outlined above straight away.  You can then concentrate on arranging a fitting tribute, funeral or cremation service; funeral directors in your area can help guide you through this process.