What to do when someone dies - your first steps

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The time after someone dies can be extremely busy and overwhelming. Take your time and once you are ready these are three practical steps you will need to take:

1) Contact your GP practice

2) Phone your chosen funeral director (if you are using one)

3) Register the death

  At the Register Office

  Documents provided by the Registrar

  Tell us Once Service

1) Contact your GP practice

When someone dies at home, a GP will need to visit to verify the death – this is a legal requirement. The GP will provide you with a medical verification. If someone has died overnight (out of normal surgery hours) you may be offered a visit in the morning if you are happy to wait. In certain circumstances, if the death was sudden or unexpected the doctor will have to talk to the police who will report it to the coroner.

If someone has died in hospital, the hospital will give you a medical certificate of death.

2) Phone your chosen funeral director (if you are using one)

You and your relative or friend may have already chosen a funeral director, or your relative or friend have expressed their funeral wishes in their will.

If a death happens at night, you don't have to 'phone your funeral director straight away. When you call the funeral director they will be able to make all of the arrangements for you. The funeral director is there to help and answer your questions, and can be a great help to you.

You do not have to use a funeral director, although most people do. If you wish to make the funeral arrangements yourself you will need to contact Wiltshire Council Cemeteries and Burial Services by calling 0300 456 0100. Further information can also be found at the Natural Death website http://www.naturaldeath.org.uk. Funeral Directors are listed on the National Association of Funeral Directors website

3) Register the death

You will need to register your relative or friend's death within five days from when it occurred. You can call the registration service on 0300 003 4569 to make an appointment to do this. There is no cost to register a death. Further information is available at http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/registrations-register-a-death.

Registration is normally the responsibility of a relative, if this is not possible check with the Registrar Office if you are qualified to act as an informant.

At the Register Office

Please take the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death with you, if you have one.

If possible you should also take other supporting documents such as the person’s birth and marriage or civil partnership certificates, proof of address, NHS medical card and any War Pension information.

The registrar will ask you the following questions (write down this information at home before you go to the Register Office):

  • The date and place of death
  • The full name and surname/family name or Maiden surname/family name (if applicable)
  • Date of birth of the person who has died
  • The town and county of birth
  • Address (including postcode) of the person who has died
  • The last full time occupation of the person who has died
  • Pensions or allowances from public funds (and if applicable, the name and occupation of the deceased’s spouse or civil partner)
  • If the person who has died was married or in a civil partnership, the date of birth of the surviving spouse or civil partner

Documents provided by the Registrar

The Registrar will provide you with the following documents:

  • White form (BD8) which you may need to claim or stop any benefit payment
  • Green form (9) which is the undertaker’s authority to proceed with the funeral arrangements
  • Death Certificate – there will be a fee for all certificates. It is recommended that sufficient copies are obtained for Probate, insurance policies, savings accounts and investments. Further copies can be purchased at a later date, but this will incur an additional fee.

Tell us Once Service

The Registrar can offer you the ‘Tell Us Once’ service (TUO). Information will be passed to the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), who will notify government and council departments on your behalf – this is a free optional service.  ‘Tell Us Once’ is a service that lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go.

When you have registered the death, the Registrar will give you a unique reference number to access the ‘Tell us Once’ service online or by phone.

To use the service you will need the deceased’s:

  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • driving licence number
  • passport number
  • details of any benefits or entitlements they were getting
  • details of any local council services they were getting
  • name and address of their next of kin
  • name, address and contact details of the person or company dealing with their estate (property, belongings and money), known as their ‘executor’ or ‘administrator’.  You need permission from the next of kin, the executor, the administrator or anyone who was claiming joint benefits or entitlements with the deceased, before you give their details.

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Create date: December 2016; Last updated March 2018