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If the person has died in hospital

If the deceased has died in a hospital and you are the named next of kin, the hospital staff will inform you. Many hospitals have bereavement staff who coordinate the issue of documentation and will explain the procedures to you. In other places this may be done by the ward staff.

Please note that preparing the documents takes time as they can only be completed by medical staff who were directly involved in the care of the patient whilst they were alive. Most hospitals operate appointment systems for collection. You may be asked to sign formal documents so the belongings of the deceased can be given to you.

You will be asked to contact a funeral director who will arrange to collect the deceased from the hospital. You may need to sign a form authorising the funeral director to take the deceased to the funeral home.

If they have died at home or in a care home
If the death was expected, perhaps due to a terminal illness, you should contact the deceased’s GP or nearest doctor. If it happened during the night, you do not need to contact the doctor until the following morning unless you want to.

If the cause of death is known and from natural causes the doctor will issue the documents to allow you to register the death which you may have to collect from the surgery.

If the death was unexpected, you should dial 999 and ask for an ambulance and police immediately. You will be told what to do by the operator to establish whether you can try and resuscitate the person. The paramedics will carry out resuscitation or will confirm the death. Leave the area untouched apart from any attempt at resuscitation.

The police will arrange for the person’s body to be moved by the coroner if the death is unexpected.

If a doctor has confirmed an expected death you may call a funeral director of your own choice when you are ready to do so. ARKA Original Funerals provide a service any time of day or night to move the deceased to our chapel of rest in Brighton.

If the doctor is unsure about the actual cause of death even if it was clearly from natural causes, or if the deceased died suddenly and had not been under a doctor’s care during the past 14 days, or the death is unnatural, they will contact the coroner. The coroner may order a post mortem examination to determine the cause of death, and then issue the documents allowing the death to be registered.

Letting people know
When someone dies there are many people to be informed, including many companies and organisations. Whilst it may seem daunting, letting people know can avoid any distress caused by them contacting you unexpectedly if they are not aware.

You may find it helpful to make a list of all the other people who will need to be informed by telephone or letter. You can work through this gradually over the coming days and weeks and ask other people to help. Some organisations will need to be informed more urgently than others. Not all of the tasks will need to be done in every case.

Having to tell other people that someone has died is a very difficult task, and even professionals who regularly have to break the news of a death as part of their role never find this easy.

What you say will vary depending both, on your relationship to the person you are informing and also on their relationship to the person who has died.

It is best to keep things very simple at the beginning unless the person has died at the end of a long illness and the news is expected. For example, it is better to say that the cause is not yet known rather than guessing the cause and having to correct this information later on.

Letting family know
If the death has occurred in hospital, a hospice or a care home there will probably be a private space with a telephone that staff can make available to you to use for the most urgent calls. There may be a staff member who can sit with you and help, especially if you are on your own at the time. It is best to make only the most urgent calls and keep the rest for when you get home. Then you can plan who to call and in what order.

There will be some people you feel able to tell over the telephone, but there may be others who you feel should be given the news face to face. You may need to delegate this responsibility to the people closest to them, especially if they live at some distance from you. You should arrange this within the first day or two so that these people do not learn of the death by accident.

If you have a large family there will probably be people who can take responsibility for spreading the news within their branches of the extended family.

These people may also be able to inform their side of the family about the funeral, so it is worth asking them if you can contact them later with information about the funeral.

Letting friends know
The death of a close friend is a major bereavement and can sometimes be unrecognised by others, because it is not a formal relationship. Usually you will know the identity of the deceased’s closest friends and how they can be contacted. The address book of the person who died, perhaps the directory in their landline telephone or mobile are all helpful for this. The closest friends will usually be the gateway to other friends and acquaintances, and may also be willing to help to tell others.

Getting organised
There are many people, companies and organisations who will have to be told about the death. Some are more urgent than others. Below is a list of people and organisations that may need be told about the death:

Tell family members and friends about the death.

Employer or educational establishments.

Health professionals. You will also need to cancel any outstanding hospital, dental, podiatry or other health related appointments.

Agencies providing care such as social services, home carers, meals on wheels and day centres.

Financial organisations

Banks/National Savings/building societies.

Insurance companies (e.g. life, buildings/contents, medical, car, travel).

Pension providers.

Credit card/store card providers.

Any other financial institutions must be informed so that any accounts solely in the deceased’s name can be frozen to prevent fraud. You should also inform companies/organisations with joint accounts, although these should normally still be accessible by the other joint holder.

Property and utilities

Mortgage provider.

If the deceased lived in rented accommodation, inform the local authority, housing association or private landlord.

Buildings and property insurance companies to ensure continued cover, especially if the property is left unoccupied.

Utility companies (electricity, gas, water and telephone), and arrange transfer of account details if necessary.

TV/internet companies.

Government offices

Pensions Service or Jobcentre Plus to cancel any benefits to the deceased or their carer.

Inland Revenue to deal with tax and Child Benefit payments (if applicable).

Local government offices that provide services such as the Electoral Register, housing benefit, council tax office, bus pass, disabled parking permits, library membership.

The DVLA and the insurance company if the deceased owned a car or held a driving licence.

The Passport Agency.

Other contacts

Arrange redirection of post if necessary and reduce the burden of any unwanted mail by registering with the Bereavement Register.

Clubs/membership organisations/social groups.

If the deceased held a firearms licence for work and/or recreational purposes, please contact your local police station.

Registering the death

Contact the doctor (GP) or hospital about obtaining the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. OR Contact the coroner’s office to find out when you may be able to register the death.

Telephone the Registrar of Births and Deaths to make an appointment to register the death.

Complete the Notification or Registration of Death (BD8) form that you were given by the Registrar of Deaths. This will inform every department using the National Insurance number of the death, but it is advisable to telephone appropriate pensions, benefits and tax offices as soon as possible to avoid inadvertent over-payment of pensions, benefits and tax credits.

When a coroner is not involved

The doctor will give you a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. For a stillborn baby, you will be given a Medical Certificate of Stillbirth by a doctor or midwife. There is a special Medical Certificate of Cause of Death for a baby who has died on or before their 28th day of life. This has to be issued by a doctor. These certificates are usually given to you in a sealed envelope – most doctors (or midwives) will explain what is written or will show you the certificate before it is placed in the envelope.

Formal notice – This is attached to the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. The doctor (or midwife) will remove this before placing the main certificate in a specifically designed envelope and give it to you. This confirms that the certificate has been signed and gives a list of people who are entitled to register the death and the information they will need to be able to do this.

About the Medical Certificate
The information given on a Medical Certificate is the official record of the cause of someone’s death. You will usually be shown or told what is given as the cause of death. The cause will be written in the technical medical language of the diagnosis so do ask if you do not understand what is written, or if you have any other questions. It is essential to ask questions if you disagree with what a doctor has written as it is difficult to change this after the registration.

This information will also be used to create national statistics of how many people die from which illnesses. These statistics are used to plan health care and other public services.

Although you may feel upset if someone’s name or age is incorrect on the Medical Certificate from the doctor, this is actually less serious as the Registrar will use the information given by the Informant (the person who actually does the registration) about the deceased to create the entry in the register. Errors in the spelling of a name or an age may creep into a hospital record especially if someone has been admitted as an emergency or they are usually known by a name other than the one on their birth certificate.

For Help and More Information
Please call us at ARKA Original Funerals on 01273 621444 and we will can talk you through all the things you need to do and give you some immediate support.