A loved one dying is a devastating experience, regardless of whether it was expected or not. It can be difficult to think about the legal requirements you need to fulfil in the days following the death, so this guide is designed to explain the process step by step, so it is one less thing you have to think about at such a trying time.
There are three things you have to do when someone dies.
If someone dies at home and the death was expected a doctor will issue a medical certificate showing the cause of death.
If someone dies unexpectedly, violently or the family doctor has not seen them in the past 14 days, the death must be reported to a Coroner. They will investigate the cause of death and may order a post-mortem.
If someone dies in a foreign country you will need to register the death according to the regulations of that particular jurisdiction and at the British Consulate.
You must register a person’s death within five days (eight days in Scotland).
You’ll need to take with you the medical certificate showing the cause of death, signed by a doctor. If possible, also take the person’s:
The registrar will provide you with a death certificate, a certificate for burial and cremation and a certificate of the registration of death.
If the matter has been referred to a Coroner you will not be able to register the death until you receive the Coroner’s permission.
If a death is violent or unexplained or happens in police custody, the Coroner must hold an inquest. An inquest is an investigation held in public to establish who the person was, and where, when and how they died. Witnesses may be summoned.
The Coroners Act 1988 sets out the duties of a coroner and in what circumstances he or she should hold an inquest and in what circumstances he or she has the choice to do so.
Most funerals are arranged through a funeral director, although you can arrange one yourself. You are responsible for paying the funeral director and they may ask for a deposit upfront.
Funerals cost an average of £3,456. If you are struggling to find the funds to pay for a funeral there are a number of options.