Dealing with a bereavement
When a loved one passes away, there are a few tasks and procedures that should be addressed. Often these are unfamiliar or difficult to deal with and the nature of the responsibility requires the utmost sensitivity.
We are available to guide you through the entire process of planning a funeral, which often means giving advice on what to do in the initial stages.
An expected death
In the event of death following a serious illness, or if your loved one has passed away at home, there are simple procedures that should be followed.
If the death occurs at home, the family doctor who looked after the deceased needs to be contacted. In an out-of-hours situation, you may leave a message with them to be picked up as soon as possible. Once a doctor has attended, please contact us.
If your loved one passed away while in hospital or under the care of a nursing or residential home, it is the staff’s responsibility to call the doctor and also contact the deceased’s next of kin. A doctor will usually provide a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, and a formal notice stating that they’ve signed the certificate.
An unexpected death
If the death is accidental or occurred under unusual or unexpected circumstances, then contact the police and don’t touch anything in the room. The death may have to be referred to the Coroner.
How to register the death
You do not need to wait until the death has been registered to begin the necessary funeral arrangements. You may contact the team at ISCA Funerals at any time to let us know your thoughts and to secure a particular venue, date or time.
Registering the death with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages is a very simple task and we can support you every step of the way. It must be taken out within five days of the date of death. In some circumstances, registration can be delayed for another nine days if authorised by the Registrar. If the death has been reported to the coroner, you cannot register it until the coroner’s investigations are finished.
The Registrar will need to see the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (issued by the family doctor) and the deceased’s Medical Card. They will also want to see the following information about your loved one:
- Full name of the deceased
- The date and place of death
- The home address of the deceased
- The date and place of birth
- Any maiden names (if applicable)
- The former occupation of the deceased
- If married, date of birth of surviving spouse
- Name and address of the informant*
- Informant’s qualification for registering
*The following people may act as the informant when registering a death:
- A relative of the deceased (present at the death)
- A relative of the deceased (attended the deceased during the last illness)
- A relative of the deceased living in or present in the area where the death occurred
- A person present at the death
- The person responsible for the payment of funeral expenses
**As funeral directors, the team at ISCA are not allowed to register a death on your behalf.
The Registrar will then issue you with a Green Certificate. This allows for the burial or cremation to go ahead and should be handed to your Funeral Director as soon as possible. You will also be given a form to send to the Department for Work and Pensions which allows you to deal with your loved one’s pension or work benefits (where applicable).
You can purchase Death Certificates from the General Register Office, which will be needed to deal with any money or property left by the deceased, including any instructions in the will.
What is the ‘Tell Us Once’ service?
The Registrar may give you the option of using the ‘Tell Us Once’ service. This is a time-saving service that informs several departments of your details and means you don’t have to go over the same information several times.
If this is offered along with your registration appointment (although it is worth asking about if not), you will need to take a few extra pieces of information about your loved one (if applicable):
- National Insurance number and date of birth
- Details of any benefits or services they were receiving
- Driving licence
- Blue Badge (disabled person’s parking badge)
- Library card
- Contact details for their next of kin
- Contact details for a surviving partner
- Contact details for the person dealing with the estate
‘Tell Us Once‘ will then be able to inform, on your behalf, the following departments:
- Department of Work and Pensions
- HM Revenue and Customs
- Identity and Passport Service
- Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
- Local council services such as housing benefit, tax benefit, electoral services, adult services and libraries
What if you can’t get to the Registrar?
If you can’t get to the Registrar in the area where the death occurred, you may register the passing in a more practical area for you. As it will involve communication between two registry offices and use of the postal system, it will most likely result in a slight delay before the funeral takes place. This is called Registration by Declaration and is available in England and Wales. ISCA Funerals can advise on any further queries.
When to involve a coroner
There are a number of reasons why a death may be referred to the Coroner, in which case the procedures will have to be slightly different. These should not give you any cause for alarm or distress and, at such a difficult time, ISCA will be on-hand to answer any questions and to help and guide you.
The Coroner will usually be a qualified doctor or solicitor appointed to investigate deaths that have happened under unexpected circumstances. Coroner’s work independently of local and central governments and have their own office and staff.
Sometimes a simple inquiry to the Coroner will determine that the death was due to natural causes and a doctor will be contacted to issue a Cause of Death certificate. In this case, the death is then registered following the usual procedures.
The team at ISCA Funerals has years of experience dealing with procedures after death, and are on-hand to give you any guidance, support or advice. If you have any queries regarding your responsibilities following the death of a loved on, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.