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What to do when someone dies

The death of a loved one can be a harrowing and confusing time for all. Although the last thing that you may be thinking about at the moment is paperwork, unfortunately, before a funeral can take place, the death must be registered within 5 days (8 days if you are in Scotland).

The first thing you should do is call a doctor, if your family medical professional is not available, you may ring 111 (if you are in the UK) and they will be able to assist you.

The doctor will be able to issue a Cause of Death Certificate or grant a Medical Certificate, and can help you answer any questions or comments you may have.

You will then need to choose a funeral director as they will be able to collect the deceased and transport them away into their care.

Once this has happened, you will need to register the death.

After registering the death, you will receive a “certificate for burial” to give to the funeral director, or an application for cremation which you must complete and give to your chosen crematorium.

If you would like to register a death in the UK or abroad, please click here.

Alternatively, you can use the UK Government’s “Tell Us Once” service and this will let you report the death to most governmental organisations in one go.

Once the death has been registered you will need to handle the deceased’ estate. Even if they did not seem to have many assets or commitments that you are aware of, there are still a number of tasks that will need to be taken care of in order to make this as easy a time as possible for you and your family. More information can be found in the “What Information will I need to hand” section.

What Information will I need to hand?

Before you start, it is very useful to have the following information to hand about the person who has died. This will make the task of completing any forms or documents much easier.

  • National Insurance number
  • NHS number (if to hand)
  • Date and place of birth
  • Date of marriage or civil partnership (if suitable)
  • Child Benefit number (if relevant)
  • Tax reference number (if relevant and to hand)
  • Organ donor card (if registered)

Who do I need to tell?

Whilst you will naturally feel the need to tell family and friends first, it is advisable to inform the following organisations as soon possible. This will ensure that what is already is a very difficult and emotional time, is not made harder due to unnecessary delayed paperwork and/or proceedings.

The relevant Tax Office
National Insurance Contributions Office if they were self-employed (in order to cancel payments).

Child Benefit Office (at latest within eight weeks)
Land & Property Services (LPS) if they were a ratepayer or getting Housing Benefit, Rate Relief or Rate Rebate.

The UK Identity and Passport Service  or Irish Passport office 
to return and cancel a passport.

Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) 
to return any driving licence, cancel any car tax and/or return car registration documents/change ownership.

Local councils in Northern Ireland (if applicable)

The Bereavement register will help remove the name from databases and mailing lists and can be accessed by clicking here.

Any banks, building societies, insurance and/or other financial reorganisations that the deceased may have had an account with.

Royal Mail will be able to help with redirecting any mail and TV licensing will be able to assist with any due payment. They can both be accessed by clicking here and here respectively.

What to do when someone dies

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