In times of emotional stress, you are faced with practical pressures and hard decisions. We can help you deal with the tasks at hand. Other notes in this series offer guidance with the practical aspects of probate and administration, and in this note, we offer some help about the personal and practical requirements following a death.
When the funeral is over, grief does not simply disappear, so we include some details of where you and your family may obtain support. Only time can ease emotional loss, but we can help to relieve practical burdens. We will be there as you step along a path into the future, one step at a time.
Registering the death
One of the first tasks to deal with is registering the death. The address and telephone number of the local Registrar is in the phone book listed under ‘Registrar General’. In some areas, it may be necessary to make a short appointment to see the Registrar. A death must be registered within 5 days in England. Usually, only a relative of the deceased can register a death. However, if you were present at the death, lived in the deceased’s house, or are responsible for making the funeral arrangements, you can register the death even if you are not a relative.
You should take the following with you:
- the medical certificate stating the cause of death
- National Health card if available
- Birth and marriage certificates
- if the Coroner has been involved, you will receive a pink form (Form 100) which should be taken to the Registrar
You will need to give the Registrar the following information about the deceased:
- Full name
- Postal address
- Date time and place of death
- Date and country of birth
There are a number of other questions that have to be answered, but these are straightforward.
In England you will receive:
- A certificate of Burial or Cremation (green form) unless the coroner has given you an Order for Burial form, or a Certificate for Cremation form.
- a Certificate of Registration of Death – take this to your local Social Security office if you want to claim state benefits.
Letting Others Know
“Tell Us Once” – this is an online service run by the government from .gov.co.uk which notifies various government agencies of the death. It includes DWP, DVLC and the Passport Office. The Registrar will include in the pack of certificates a form with a unique reference number to be used for this purpose only. You will need some additional information about the deceased person such as their National Insurance number and date of birth in order to use the service.
It would be perfectly understandable if you were to overlook some of the people who should be informed of the death. The following checklists will help ensure that you do not miss anyone who should be informed, either for business or personal reasons.
- Bank/Building Society
- Credit card companies
- DVLA – the deceased’s driving licence must be returned
- Mailing lists
- Passport Office
- Mortgage Lender
- Council Tax office
- Utility companies – gas, electricity, water, cable, telephone, etc.
- Hospital the deceased was attending
- Family doctor
- Deceased’s employer, trade union/professional regulator
- Anyone who makes a regular delivery if it is to be stopped
- Social Services – if the deceased was receiving home help, meals on wheels, or had an appliance or aid issued by that department
- Insurance companies for car, life, house and contents insurance and funeral policies. Remember to quote the policy number. The companies will need a certified copy of the death certificate.
- Season tickets and membership cards of clubs and associations
- Log book of any car owned by the deceased to allow a change of ownership to be recorded
- Library books and tickets
- Insurance companies
- Family members, including any living abroad
- Family friends
- Place of worship
- Teacher – if a parent, sibling or someone close to a child has died
You may want to put an announcement in your local paper. Ask for the Births, Marriages and Deaths column.
The Will may include details of the kind of funeral the deceased wanted. A funeral is seen as a valuable part of the grieving process and can be anything from a solitary vigil, quiet family gathering to a boisterous and upbeat celebration of life. The deceased may have stated clearly, either in their lifetime, or in their Will, what sort of funeral they wanted. Otherwise, you must do what you feel is appropriate. Planning a funeral with family and friends may be helpful.
Many people choose a funeral director to organise the funeral and deal with much of the paperwork. Funeral directors should understand the relevant laws and the requirements of different faiths and are expert in the care of the deceased. They can also arrange repatriation of bodies from abroad or organise funerals in other countries. You will be asked to sign an agreement and set a date for the funeral.
Depending on the wishes and religious beliefs of the deceased, you must decide whether there is to be a burial or a cremation.
In England, the funeral director must be given the Certificate for Burial or Cremation (green form) unless the Coroner has given you an Order for Burial form or a Certificate for Cremation.
If the deceased had not already reserved a plot, one must be arranged and paid for. If no plot has been reserved, and the deceased stated no preference where they would like to be buried, you must decide where you want the grave to be. The plots can be in:
- Local churchyard
- Local authority cemetery
- Denominational cemetery
The date and time must be set with the Crematorium. There are several forms that must be completed, not all of them by you:
- If the Coroner is not called in, you need forms A, B C and F. Forms B, C and F are filled in by doctors
- If the Coroner is involved, you need A, E and F. Form E is filled in by the Coroner
- You must sign a form for the disposal of the ashes
- Before the funeral, the crematorium will give you a form confirming the date of the cremation
- After the funeral, the crematorium will give you another form to confirm that the cremation has taken place.
There are regional differences in costs, but the following is a rough guide:
- Doctors’ fees for signing forms B and C are about £40
- Cremation costs on average £200
- Burial of the ashes costs about £50
You can decide what do about the ashes after the cremation has taken place. There are two forms involved:
- Certificate of Disposal of Cremated Remains (this states that the ashes can be buried in a churchyard or cemetery), and
- Certificate of Cremation for Burial and Scattering (this states that the cremation has taken place and is passed to the executor or next of kin)
You can arrange to collect the ashes any time after the day following the cremation. You then have several options – the ashes can be:
- scattered at the grounds of the crematorium
- Buried in a churchyard or cemetery
- taken home
- scattered somewhere of personal significance to the deceased
It is important that you are aware of the costs involved. You can certainly ask for estimates from several firms if you are planning to use a funeral director and ask them to explain exactly what is included in the price.
Check for details of any funeral policies. These might be with the deceased’s Will or other insurance papers. Unless there is a funeral plan, it is likely that you or the deceased’s estate will have to bear the cost of the funeral. You can contact your local Benefits office if you are in financial difficulties.
There are three associations of funeral directors and a Funeral Ombudsman to whom you can complain if you think a funeral has not been properly handled.
Alternative Funeral Arrangements
For their own personal or religious reasons, not everyone will wish to follow the arrangements outlined above. There are a range of organisations that can help those who wish to make alternative plans.
If the deceased’s body is to be donated to medical research, phone the London Anatomy office or your local teaching hospital. They are obliged to organise a funeral within 2 years. You should let them know if you wish to attend.
If the deceased’s organs are to be donated for transplant, you must tell the attending doctor as soon as possible. Permission is needed if a Coroner has been involved.
Useful Support Organisations
|Age UK||www.ageuk.org.uk||0800 678 1174|
|Asian Family Counselling Services||www.asianfamilycounselling.org.uk||Birmingham Office: 0121 454 1130
|Bereavement Trust||www.Bereavement-trust.org.uk||0800 435 455|
|Carers UK||www.carersuk.org||Monday to Friday: 10am – 4pm
020 7378 4999
0808 808 7777
|Child Death Helpline||www.childdeathhelpline.org.uk||Monday to Friday: 10am – 1pm
Tuesday and Wednesday: 1pm–4pm
Every evening from 7pm – 10pm
0800 282 986
0808 800 6019
|Citizens Advice Bureau (Twickenham)||www.rcabs.org||020 8712 7800|
|Compassionate Friends||www.tcf.org.uk||028 8778 8016
034 5123 2304
|Cot Death Helpline||www.lullabytrust.org.uk||0808 802 6868
|Cruse Bereavement Helpline||www.cruse.org.uk||0808 808 1677|
|The National Council for Palliative Care||www.dyingmatters.org||08000 214466|
|London Friend (LGBT Bereavement Project)||www.londonfriend.org.uk||10am – 11pm
020 7833 1674
0330 330 0630
|Marie Curie||www.mariecurie.org.uk||08000 90 2309|
|Miscarriage Association||www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk||Monday to Friday: 9am – 4pm
01924 200 799
|Royal Voluntary Service||www.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk||8am – 6pm
|Samaritans||www.samaritans.org||Open 24 hours
|Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society||www.uk-sands.org||020 7436 5881
|Support Line||www.Supportline.org.uk||01708 465200
|SOBS (Survivors of bereavement by suicide)||www.uk-sobs.org.uk||9am to 9 pm
0300 111 5065
|Terrence Higgins Trust Helpline||www.tht.org.uk||0808 802 1221
020 7812 1600
|War Widows Association of Great Britain||www.warwidows.org.uk||084 5241 2189