Following the death of a loved one there are often a lot of practical things that need to be considered. This page is designed to give you the best advice.
What To Do When A Death Occurs
When an expected death happens at home, the doctor who has been looking after the deceased should be contacted. Provided the deceased has been seen by a doctor during their final illness within the previous 14 days, a doctor will then be able to attend to confirm that death has occurred. The District Nursing Team may also be involved in end of life care at home, if a healthcare professional is already with you they may be able to verify the death, if trained to do so. If not, you will need to call the GP practice.
Once the Doctor has given permission to proceed, you are then able to contact us. We will attend as quickly as possible or at a time convenient to you to bring your loved one into our care – for instance, you may wish to wait until other family members have had an opportunity to say their goodbyes at home.
The doctor will be responsible for issuing a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death – this is usually completed in the surgery as quickly as possible and emailed directly to the Registrar. Once the Registrar has received the Certificate via email this allows you to book an appointment to register the death.
However, if the death is unexpected, the doctor may refer the matter to the Coroner.
If a relative who has been a hospital in-patient dies, the doctors who have been treating the deceased will usually be able to issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death which will be emailed directly to the Registrar in the same way that the GP would from the doctor’s surgery.
Each hospital has a dedicated bereavement office who will contact you about the next steps. You will need to let the bereavement officer know the name of your nominated funeral director which allows them to liaise directly with us to arrange the necessary paperwork and the conveyance of your loved one into our care.
Regulations and procedures can be confusing. Please contact us in the first instance so that we can advise you fully.
A death abroad must be registered with the local authorities in the country where the person died. There are different rules for bringing your loved one home depending on whether you:
- bring the body home for burial or cremation, or
- have the person cremated abroad and bring their ashes home.
Bringing your loved one home
To bring the person who died home, you must:
- get a certified English translation of the Death Certificate;
- get permission to remove the person, issued by the Coroner
(or equivalent) in the country where the person died; and
- tell a Coroner in England if the death was violent or unnatural.
Advice may be sought from the British Consulate, Embassy or High Commission in the country where the person died.
Once the person who has died is home, you need to take the Death Certificate to the Register Office in the area where the funeral is taking place.
As the death has already been registered abroad, the Registrar will give you a “Certificate of No Liability to Register”. Give this to the funeral director so the funeral can go ahead.
The Coroner is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating an unexpected death and any death where the person has not been seen by their GP within 14 days prior to the date of death or, if the death is unexpected.
In these circumstances, the doctor will not be able to issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death and the matter should be referred to the Coroner for further investigation.
The doctor may also be unable to issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death in the following circumstances:-
• The person has died in prison or in such a place or in such circumstances as to require an inquest.
• If the deceased underwent an operation shortly before death or there is a suggestion of a possible industrial disease, then it is probable that the doctor will not complete the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death but refer the death to the coroner.
If the death is referred to HM Coroner their office will arrange for the deceased to be conveyed to their mortuary in order that the death can be investigated and, if necessary, an inquest opened.
Should this happen, the Coroner will keep you updated at every stage and once their investigation has concluded, issue the necessary paperwork to allow the funeral arrangements to proceed.
When leaving a country with human ashes you will normally need to show:
- the Death Certificate;
- the Certificate of Cremation
Each country has its own rules about departing with human ashes and there may be additional requirements. Contact the country’s British Consulate, Embassy or High Commission for advice. You’ll need to fill in a standard customs form when you arrive home.
Contact your airline to find out whether you can carry the ashes as hand luggage or as checked-in luggage. They may ask you to put the ashes in a non-metallic container so they can be x-rayed.
You shouldn’t have the person cremated abroad if you want a coroner at home to conduct an inquest into their death.
Registering A Death
A death must be registered by law in the district within which the death occurs. We can tell you where the relevant office is.
Contact numbers of Local Registrars:
Gloucestershire: 01452 425060
Oxfordshire: 0845 1295900 or 01865 861912
Warwickshire: 0300 555 0255
An appointment to register should be made within 5 days of the date of death. You will be able to book an appointment once the doctor has emailed the Medical Cause of Death Certificate to the Registrar’s office. If possible, you should take a copy of the deceased’s medical card although this is not essential.
- Any relative of the deceased
- Any person present at death
- The occupier of the house where the death occurs
- The person arranging the funeral
The procedure for registering a death is a simple interview with the Registrar who will require the following information:
- date and place of birth and death;
- the full name of the deceased;
- home address of the deceased;
- the Marital status of the deceased; and
- if the deceased is female, her maiden name, if applicable, and her husband’s full name and occupation.
A Death Certificate may be obtained from the Registrar upon the payment of the appropriate fee and will be required for insurance purposes, probate, bank accounts, private pension schemes, National Savings Certificates, Premium Bonds and so on. You will see a handy checklist below of some of the organisations you will need to consider contacting and things you may need to deal with.
- Family and Friends
- Police (Security of empty property)
- Deceased’s employers
- Hospital/daycare centre attended
- Bank and/or Building Society
- Return medical appliances: wheelchairs…etc
- Death Notification Service,
- Social Services, ie: Meals on Wheels, home help
- Post Office Savings account
- Utilities – Water, gas, electricity, and redirecting mail
- Tradesmen – milkman, newsagent
- Insurance company
- Return library books
- Shares/Investment companies
- Creditors – credit cards
- Government Bodies including:
- Estate agent for valuation of Inland Revenue and local Council
- House clearance arrangements (dealt with through the Tell Us Once Service)
- Car insurance
- Social media accounts
The Registrar will also supply a form to be completed and sent to the Department of Work and Pensions. This is a convenient way to inform all the necessary government-related departments about the death of a person on one form. This will include state pensions and benefits so that you will not need to contact them separately to arrange to have the payments stopped. If any overpayments are made these will need to be repaid promptly.
This service ensures that you can tell several banks about a death with one form. Go onto the website: www.deathnotificationservice.co.uk
The Tell Us Once service ensures that you can inform Government Departments in one call.
The Money Advice Service has a very good webpage dealing with finance and insurance when your spouse or partner dies: https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/dealing-with-finances-and-insurance-after-your-partner-dies
Arranging The Funeral
It is very distressing if you are left with the feeling that something, no matter what, has been left out of the funeral arrangements or that decisions were made in haste that may lead to regrets for a long time to come.
When planning the service, two questions can often help you to make up your mind about the type of service you would like. Is the service to be a celebration of the life of the person who has died or is it to mourn his/her death? It may be worth, in a quiet moment, reflecting on the arrangements you have made. Perhaps keep a pencil and paper close at hand, because there are bound to be questions that will need an answer or points which you may like to discuss and incorporate into the final funeral arrangements. Perhaps this could be a special meaning shared between you as to the use of a particular road, place or view, which could easily be worked into the route to the funeral service. You may have a special memento or photograph that you would like placed into the coffin or clothing.
You may already know what funeral arrangements you will need to implement, perhaps from having spoken with your loved one before their death or you may know of some relevant paperwork in the form of a Will, a pre-paid plan or simply a handwritten note expressing any wishes. No matter what the question or the query, please do not feel unable to ask, as it is a very important occasion and everything needs to be right. The arrangements made cannot be altered after the service has taken place, but they can be changed in any way you like before that time.
Cremation is often less expensive than a burial. After a cremation service you will need to decide what should happen with the ashes. You may decide to scatter or bury them, or to retain them in your safekeeping. In any event, you do not need to make any immediate decisions and it may be best to wait for a while after the funeral service has taken place, so that you can make the necessary arrangements when you feel you are ready to do so. The ashes can either be retained by the crematorium or by ourselves at W J Wright for as long as needs be. If you choose a burial it is necessary to find out what availability there is within a churchyard or cemetery. At the same time, you may want to consider the reservation of an adjoining plot or larger grave if you or other members of the family want to be buried nearby in the future.
There is usually a fee payable to the Church or Council, which we can give you details of, and in the case of the Church of England a faculty or special permission may have to be sought for a particular position.
A funeral service can be held in a variety of venues, although traditionally services are usually conducted either within a religious place of worship or a crematorium. Please feel free to discuss any venue with us and we will be able to advise you as to whether it is suitable and practical.
This is very much dependent upon the type of service you envisage. It could be a religious minister of any denomination or a non-religious minister such as a civil celebrant or a humanist. It could even be a friend or relative. However, if the funeral service takes place in a church it is usual for the Clergy or a Lay Minister of that church to conduct the service, unless the Vicar or Rector gives permission to have someone else. We will help you find the right person to conduct the funeral.
You can call us by telephone at anytime, visit us at our funeral home or, alternatively, we can arrange to call and see you at your home. All arrangements for a funeral are confirmed in writing so that the details may be checked and agreed. At the same time, an estimate of the complete costs will be given to you showing payments to be made on your behalf.
The Wright Support
We would be pleased to act as your professional advisor and confidante, and we will be responsible for the efficiency and dignity of the funeral arrangements. Our role is not always obvious, but some of our duties will include:
- Personal meetings to receive instructions and discuss arrangements
- Liaison and confirmation of arrangements with clergy, church, cemetery or crematorium
- Completing and forwarding legal documentation to the appropriate authority
- Arranging for the production of service sheets
- Advice on the selection of suitable hymns, music and readings
- Liaison with the police and coroner where necessary
- Assistance and advice on claiming from the Social Fund
- Advising on catering, either at home or elsewhere
- Assistance in the ordering, receipt and care of floral tributes
- Receipt, listing and distribution of charitable donations
- Provision of attendance cards for mourners to complete, if required
- Arranging for the purchase and preparation of the grave
- Preparation and retention of confidential files regarding funeral arrangements for those who wish to make enquiries in advance
- Retaining detailed records of each funeral for future reference by the family if required
- Arranging for the conveyance of the deceased to our premises any time of the day or night
- Care and preparation of the deceased
- Supply and fitting of the coffin or casket
- Supply of the necessary bearers
- Arranging for the removal of the memorial stone for a burial (if applicable)
- Provision of a hearse and limousines as required
- Arranging for the dispersal or interment of cremated remains
At W J Wright Funeral Directors we understand that the funeral is just the beginning of your journey of grief.
In the difficult days and weeks following the funeral, we are still here for you. You may rely upon us for a friendly face and a sympathetic ear. Sometimes it is good to know that there is someone there for you. Someone who knows something of what you have been through, who remains impartial and non-judgemental. Someone who is respectful, understanding, supportive and who appreciates the importance of confidentiality. We can also put you in touch with organisations who can support you in difficult times.
In some cases, this may not be enough and perhaps professional help can be of benefit. Having counselling can mean that there is a safe place for you to offload and vent your feelings. You will not be judged by what you say and will be able to talk freely without feeling that you are affecting others. We are able to make suggestions as to whom to contact in order to set up some counselling if you feel this might help.
If you feel counselling may help we are able to refer you, through our membership with SAIF (Society of Allied Independent Funeral Directors) to highly skilled and qualified bereavement counsellors who will be able to help you understand your grief, develop coping strategies and promote self care to enable you to deal with the challenges you may be facing.
When you lose someone you love or deeply care about, the feeling can overwhelm you. If you are involved in dealing with the arrangements that follow you can often be the person everyone else relies upon. You have to be “the strong one” and often are the one that pushes away emotions in order to “do what needs to be done”. When all is going on around you it can feel like you are watching yourself do all of these things, many things that you have not had to do or think about beforehand.
We are available for you to talk to 24 hrs a day 7 days a week.
We have put together also a page of useful contacts to help you deal with grief and bereavement. Visit our useful links page here.