What to do in case of a death

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What to do in case of a death

Do you know what to do if a family member or loved dies? Here are the steps you might follow:

Medical certificate

  • if the person died in hospital or a nursing home, a doctor is already likely to have been called in order to issue a medical certificate verifying the cause of death;
  • hospital staff break the news to you and arrange for the body to be laid out and taken to the hospital mortuary, from where you need to arrange its transfer to your chosen undertakers;
  • if the doctor is unable to determine the cause of death, it will be referred to a Coroner to establish the facts;
  • if the person dies at home, your first step is to arrange for a GP to call at the house, where he or she is again responsible for signing a medical certificate or, in its absence, reporting the death to the Coroner;
  • when deaths are referred to the Coroner, the court may order an autopsy in the effort to establish the cause of death;

Deaths abroad

  • if you want to bring the body home, you will need a copy of the death certificate (in a formally certified translation), the permission of the local authorities for the move, and be prepared to inform a Coroner if there is any suspicion that the death was from the result of violence or anything other than natural causes;
  • once the body is back home and you wish to arrange its burial, you need to report the fact to your local Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages;
  • if you want to repatriate the ashes, the rules from one country to another differ, but you are likely to need to produce the death certificate and certificate of cremation;

Death register

  • if the death occurred in the UK, you must register the fact within five days to your local Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages or notification online – in Scotland this must be done within eight days;
  • you are committing a criminal offence if a death is not registered;

Financial affairs

  • you need to begin the process of sorting out the deceased’s financial affairs straight away, to satisfy outstanding creditors and to determine the contents of any will or to arrange probate;

Funeral arrangements

  • the deceased may have purchased a prepaid funeral plan in which both the arrangements for the funeral and for its payment have been made in advance;
  • in the absence of any such plan, you may arrange for the funeral to take place at any time and choose between burial or cremation;
  • interment may be made at a wide variety of sites, including local authority cemeteries, those in church grounds, private cemeteries or even private land or woodland;
  • if you want to conduct a burial on private land, it is a good idea to secure a certificate from your local authority confirming that the action is lawful;
  • facilities for cremation are maintained by local authorities, to whom you need to make the appropriate application, accompanied by a certificate signed and counter-signed by two doctors.

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