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What To Do When Someone Dies
When the death occurs in hospital
Unless present when death occurs, the relatives will be notified by the nursing staff as soon as possible. Arrangements can then be made with the Hospital Patient Affairs office staff to deal with the formalities. These will include collecting the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (issued by a Hospital Doctor) and personal possessions of the deceased. The Hospital may also issue a ‘Release Form’, which needs to signed by the next of kin, releasing the deceased into our care.
When the death occurs at home
If the death was expected, as the deceased had been ill for some time, it would be normal to contact their Doctor or the on call Doctor who would then visit to certify that death had occurred and determine the cause of death. This may not happen immediately as the Doctor may be in his/her surgery or the death may happen in the middle of the night in which case you may decide to wait until morning before calling out the Doctor.
Later that day or the next, the Doctor will issue the relatives a form called the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. This contains a list of who can register the death, known as Informants, at the local Registry Office and what information the Registrar will require.
For the details of the Bury St. Edmunds registrars office Tel 0345 607 2060 or book online here.
If you are uncertain whether someone has passed away then call the Doctor or dial 999 and ask for an ambulance. If the cause of death cannot be determined then the Doctor will refer the death to the coroner.
If the death occurs in another area
How to register a death
Who can register?
A close relative of deceased
A relative in attendance during last illness
A relative living in the district where death occurred
A person present at death
The person arranging the funeral (i.e. Next of kin or relative – not funeral director)
Medical Certificate of Death (from Dr’s or hospital/hospice)
Medical Card if available, or
Birth Certificate & information regarding date of birth
Information required to register
Date and place of death
Full name of deceased (maiden name if applicable)
Date and place of birth
Occupation and home address
If married, full name and occupation of spouse.
1. Disposal Certificate (green form) for the funeral director
2. Social Security Certificate (white form) to be handed in at the D.S.S. Offices with any pension books
3. Copies of Entry of Death (death certificate) for bank, insurance, solicitors.
N.B. You have to make an appointment with the registrars.
For the details of the Bury St. Edmunds registrars office Tel 0345 607 2060 or book online.
It is worth getting a few copies of the death certificate from the registrars when you are there. If
you run out you will have to make another appointment to get some more and will have to pay double.
The Coroner (Procurator Fiscal in Scotland)
The main duties of the Coroner are to investigate all sudden and unexpected deaths and also to give permission to remove a deceased person out of England and Wales if this is necessary.
Once a death has been reported to the Coroner he/she will decide what action is necessary following initial investigations of the facts surrounding the death by his/her officers. This may include a post-mortem examination to establish the cause of death.
The Coroner will arrange the task of transferring the deceased to the local hospital, which is often done under contract using one of the national or multi-national companies.
NB. This does not oblige the family in any way to use the services of that company.
The family still have the flexibility to select whichever funeral director they require without incurring any extra cost.
In the case of unnatural, unexplained, violent, or workplace deaths the Coroner will hold an inquest after a post-mortem. This will be open to the public and is to ascertain who the deceased was, how, when and where they died and the particulars legally needed to register the death. Often an inquest can be opened and adjourned to allow the funeral to take place.
Further details on the roles and responsibilities of the Coroner are available in a pamphlet published by the Home Office entitled “The work of the Coroner”, a copy of which can be obtained from us or downloaded in PDF form here.