Help & advice - What To Do When Someone Dies

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What To Do When Someone Dies : A Step-by-Step Guide

We’ve put together all the relevant information you need and the procedures you must follow when someone dies, whether they pass away at home, in a nursing home/hospice or in hospital. At Welham Jones, your local Kent funeral directors, we understand how difficult this time is and we want to make things as easy and straight forward for you as possible.

Where did the death occur?
  What to do
Home death

• Call your doctor or community nurse so they can certify ‘life extinct’.
• Call a funeral director to take the deceased in to their care.
Hospice/nursing home

 A member of staff will take care of the certification of death for you
• Nominate a funeral director for them to call on your behalf.


• The deceased will remain at the hospital until the cause of death has been prepared for you.
• You may, or the hospital bereavement office will, contact your chosen funeral director.

  • Obtain a medical certificate with cause of death

Issued at the time of death or made available for collection shortly after, from the doctor’s surgery or the Bereavement Services department of the hospital. If the doctor cannot certify the cause of death, he or she will refer the death to HM Coroner (See the Coroner below).

  • Register the death

Required by law within five working days in the district where they died. The Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths will require a number of documents or information about the deceased, including:

- Place and date of birth and death
- Full name - including maiden name
- Home address
- Marital status - and if a married woman, their spouse’s full name and occupation
- Occupation

Contact details of local register offices are here.

  • Notify the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

The DWP has a ‘Tell us once’ service that ensures any benefit entitlements are dealt with once you register the death. You can register the death online, call 0845 606 0265, or send back the form BD8 that the Registrar will give you.

  • Decide whether to cremate or bury

Please see our Bury or Cremate section for more guidance in making this difficult decision, particularly when the deceased left no instructions, or indication, of their wishes.

  • Contact your funeral director

Once we have taken the deceased into our care, we will contact you to offer advice, answer any questions and begin the process of arranging the funeral.

The "green" 
The Registrar will give you the ‘Certificate for Burial or Cremation’, which is a green coloured form and which you should pass to us as soon as possible. This allows us to bring the deceased into our care and continue the process of arranging the funeral and preparing the deceased.  

In addition, you will need a number of certified copies of the ‘Entry of Death’. These are required for probate or to close bank accounts and notify pension schemes etc. whether you are doing it yourself or you have appointed a solicitor. There is a fee per copy for these, which is payable to the Registrar when registering. You can ask for as many copies as you like but usually four will suffice as they can be re-used when notifying banks or other institutions of the death.

When HM Coroner becomes involved
There are a number of reasons for HM Coroner to become involved in a death. If this happens to you, don’t panic, the procedures will be fully explained by the Coroner’s officer.

What you need to know:

  • A contracted firm of funeral directors will take the deceased to the Coroner’s mortuary.  You do not have to use this firm for the funeral.

  • The Coroner is likely to perform a post-mortem to establish the cause of death, before allowing the release of the body for the funeral.

  • Upon the verdict of natural causes and circumstances, the Coroner will issue Form 100 (the ‘pink’) to the Registrar, to enable you to register the death.

  • If the death was violent or unnatural, occurred in prison, was due to an industrial disease, or where there is any doubt the Coroner will order an investigation to determine whether an inquest is required. If it is it will be opened and immediately adjourned before determining the nature and circumstances of the death. If it is not required, the death will be registered as normal.

  • The inquest will delay registration and so the Coroner will issue an interim certificate of the fact of death to enable probate. This will also allow you to notify the death to the Department of Work and Pensions.

  • Where there is to be a cremation, the Coroner will issue a Form 6 to the funeral director, instead of the “green”, Certificate for Burial or Cremation’ issued by the Registrar.

  • Where there is to be a burial, the Coroner will issue a ‘Coroner’s Burial Order’ directly to the funeral director. You will not be able to register the death until the Coroner has concluded the inquest.

As the introduction of new technology is allowing registration to take place in expanded areas, please ask us for up-to-date procedures, telephone numbers and assistance both in making and attending any appointments.

Next : Burial or Cremation

After registering the death of your loved one, the next step is to contact your local funeral director and decide upon a burial or cremation. You can learn more by clicking the link to find out how to decide between a burial or cremation. Cremation Versus Burial – How To Decide Which Is Best?