What to do when someone dies: step by step
These are the steps that you have to follow if any of your loved one dies
- REGISTER THE DEATH
- ARRANGE THE FUNERAL
- TELL THE GOVERNMENT ABOUT THE DEATH
- CHECK OF YOU CAN GET BEREAVEMENT BENEFITS
- DEAL WITH YOUR OWN BENEFITS, PENSION, TAXES
- CHECK IF YOU NEED TO APPLY TO STAY IN THE UK
- DEAL WITH THEIR ESTATE
1 Register the death
When the death is reported to a coroner
If a death is reported to a coroner, the documents you need to register the death may be different. The coroner will decide either:
- the cause of death is clear
- that a post-mortem is needed
- to hold an inquest
The cause of death is clear
If the coroner decides that the cause of death is clear:
- The doctor signs a medical certificate.
- You take the medical certificate to the registrar to register the death.
- The coroner issues a certificate to the registrar stating a post-mortem is not needed.
A post-mortem is needed
The coroner may decide a post-mortem is needed to find out how the person died. This can be done either in a hospital or mortuary.
You cannot object to a coroner’s post-mortem – but if you’ve asked the coroner must tell you (and the person’s GP) when and where the examination will take place.
After the post-mortem
The coroner will release the body for a funeral once they have completed the post-mortem examinations and no further examinations are needed.
If the body is released with no inquest, the coroner will send a form (‘Pink Form – form 100B’) to the registrar stating the cause of death.
The coroner will also send a ‘Certificate of Coroner – form Cremation 6’ if the body is to be cremated.
The coroner holds an inquest
A coroner must hold an inquest if:
- the cause of death is still unknown
- the person might have died a violent or unnatural death
- the person might have died in prison or police custody
You will need to get an interim death certificate during the inquest, so you can notify the registrar of the death. Once the inquest is over, you can get the final death certificate from the registrar.
Get an interim death certificate during the inquest
If you need proof of the death while you wait for the inquest to finish, ask the coroner for an interim death certificate.
Use the interim death certificate to notify a registrar of the death while the inquest is still taking place.
You can use the interim death certificate to apply for probate. https://www.gov.uk/applying-for-probate/apply-for-probate
To report a death to more than one government organisation at once:
- Ask the coroner for the interim death certificate.
- Find a registrar. https://www.gov.uk/register-offices
- The registrar will either help you report the death or give you a unique reference number. Use this number to report the death using the Tell Us Once service. https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death/organisations-you-need-to-contact-and-tell-us-once
Get a death certificate
After the inquest, the corner will confirm the cause of death to the registrar.
The registrar will register the death.
You can ask the registrar for a death certificate.
You can get free, independent support from The Coroners’ Courts Support Service.
The Coroners’ Courts Support Service Helpline (England and Wales)
Telephone: 0300 111 2141
Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm
Saturday, 9am to 2pm
Find out about call charges https://www.gov.uk/call-charges
2- Arrange the funeral
The funeral can usually only take place after the death is registered. You can pay for a funeral director to arrange the funeral or do it yourself.
You should check if the person who died had made arrangements for their funeral – this could include prepaid funeral plans or life insurance.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) and attending a funeral or wake
There are restrictions on who can attend a funeral and any related events (for example a wake) because of coronavirus.
This guidance is for funerals and wakes in England. There’s different guidance for :
organising and attending funerals in Scotland
organising and attending funerals in Wales
organising and attending funerals in Northern Ireland
which we are going to explore at later date
Who can attend
You should not attend a funeral or wake if you’re unwell with coronavirus symptoms.
You can attend a funeral of a close family member if you’re self-isolating because:
- you’ve been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace
- you’ve had a positive COVID-19 test
- someone in your household has symptoms
If you’re self-isolating because you recently entered the UK from an amber list country or territory, you can attend a funeral of a close family member, member of your household or friend (if their close family members or members of their household cannot attend).
If you’re in quarantine because you’ve recently travelled to England from a red list country or territory, you might be able to attend a funeral of a close family member or member of your household. You must get permission from the managed quarantine hotel you’re staying in to leave the hotel.
You cannot attend a wake or other event related to the funeral if you’re self-isolating or in quarantine.
If you hire a funeral director, choose a funeral director who’s a member of either:
National Association of Funeral Directors
The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) http://saif.org.uk/members-search/
These organisations have codes of practice – they should give you a price list when asked.
Some local councils run their own funeral services, for example for non-religious burials. The British Humanist Association and Institute of Civil Funerals can also help with non-religious funerals. https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council
Arranging the funeral yourself
Contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local council to arrange a funeral yourself.
- Funeral costs
- Funeral costs can include:
funeral director fees
things the funeral director pays for on your behalf (called ‘disbursements’ or ‘third-party costs’), for example crematorium or cemetery fees, or a newspaper announcement about the death
local authority burial or cremation fees
Funeral directors may list all these costs in their quote. You can get quotes from several funeral directors to see what is available within your budget.
The Money Advice Service has information about funeral costs and how to reduce them.
Paying for a funeral
The funeral can be paid for:
from a financial scheme the person had, for example a pre-paid funeral plan or insurance policy
by you, or other family members or friends
- with money from the person’s estate (savings, for example) – getting access to this is called applying for a ‘grant of representation’ (sometimes called ‘applying for probate’)
You can apply for a Funeral Expenses Payment if you have difficulty paying for the funeral. https://www.gov.uk/funeral-payments
Moving a body for a funeral abroad
You need permission from a coroner to move a body for a funeral abroad. Apply at least 4 days before you want the body to be moved.
Find a local coroner using the Coroners’ Society of England and Wales website. https://www.coronersociety.org.uk/
There is a different process for:
- moving a body abroad from Scotland
- moving a body abroad from Northern Ireland
Bereavement help and support
You can find support and information on bereavement from the following organisations:
- NHS advice on dealing with bereavement, grief and loss
- National Bereavement Partnership – practical advice, support and counselling for bereavement during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
- Cruse Bereavement Care – national and local support, over the phone and in person
- Citizens Advice guidance on what to do after a death
- The Good Grief Trust – find local and national support for your situation
- At a Loss – find local and national support for your situation
- the Childhood Bereavement Network – for those supporting bereaved children
Support for child funeral costs (Children’s Funeral Fund for England)
The Children’s Funeral Fund for England can help to pay for some of the costs of a funeral for a child under 18 or a baby stillborn after the 24th week of pregnancy.
It is not means-tested: what you earn or how much you have in savings will not affect what you get.
The burial or cremation must take place in England.
What the fund covers
The Children’s Funeral Fund for England can help pay for the:
- burial fees
- cremation fees, including the cost of a doctor’s certificate
- coffin, shroud or casket (up to a cost of £300)
If you have other funeral expenses, you might be able to apply for Funeral Expenses Payment to cover them. You or your partner must be getting certain benefits – check if you’re eligible for Funeral Expenses Payment.
How claiming works
The fees for the burial or cremation can be claimed directly by the burial or cremation provider – you should not be charged. How to claim for some other expenses (for example, the coffin) depends on if you are using a funeral director or not.
Claims must be made within 6 months of the funeral.
If you are using a funeral director
You do not need to submit any claims yourself.
The burial or cremation provider can claim for the fees of a burial or cremation. The money will be paid directly to them.
Your funeral director can claim for some other funeral expenses (for example, the coffin). The money will be paid directly to them.
If you are not using a funeral director
The burial or cremation provider can claim for the fees of a burial or cremation. The money will be paid directly to them.
Claim funeral costs online
You can claim for some other funeral expenses (for example, the coffin) online.
Tell the government about the death
The Tell Us Once service allows you to inform all the relevant government departments when someone dies.
- Use the Tell Us Once service to tell government
- If you cannot use Tell Us Once, tell government yourself
You’ll also need to tell banks, utility companies, and landlords or housing associations yourself.
Tell Us Once
Tell Us Once is a service that lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go.
The Tell Us Once service is not available in Northern Ireland. Find out who to tell about a death in Northern Ireland.
How to use Tell Us Once
A registrar will explain the Tell Us Once service when you register the death. They will either:
- complete the Tell Us Once service with you
- give you a unique reference number so you can use the service yourself online or by phone
You must use the service within 28 days of getting your unique reference number.
If you cannot register the death because an inquest is underway, you can still ask a registrar for a unique reference number. You’ll need to get an interim death certificate from the coroner holding the inquest first.
Before you use Tell Us Once
You’ll need the Tell Us Once reference number that you got from the registrar.
You’ll also need the following details of the person who died:
- date of birth
- date they died
- name, address and contact details of the person or company dealing with their estate (property, belongings and money), known as their ‘executor’ or ‘administrator’
- if there’s a surviving spouse or civil partner, the name, address, telephone number and the National Insurance number or date of birth of the spouse or civil partner
- if there’s no surviving spouse or civil partner or their spouse or civil partner is not able to deal with their affairs, the name and address of their next of kin
- if they died in a hospital, nursing home, care home or hospice, the name and address of that institution – you’ll also be asked if the stay was for 28 days or more
You may also need:
- if they had a passport, their passport number and town of birth
- if they had a driving licence, their driving licence number
- if they owned any vehicles, the vehicle registration numbers
- if they were getting services from their local council, such as Housing Benefit payments or Council Tax reductions, the name of their local council and which services they were getting
- if they were getting any benefits, tax credits or State Pension, information about which ones they were getting
- if they were getting money from an Armed Forces Pension or Compensation Scheme, details of that scheme
- if they were getting money or paying into public sector pension schemes, details of those schemes
- if they were getting money or paying into Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS), details of those schemes and their National Insurance number
Unless they were involved in a LGPS, you do not need their National Insurance number. If you can still provide it though, it will help some organisations match their records faster.
You need permission from any surviving spouse or civil partner, the next of kin, executor, administrator or anyone who was claiming joint benefits or entitlements with the person who died, before you give their details.
Use Tell Us Once online
Organisations Tell Us Once will contact
Tell Us Once will notify:
- HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – to deal with personal tax and to cancel benefits and credits, for example Child Benefit and tax credits (you need to contact HMRC separately for business taxes, like VAT)
- Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – to cancel benefits and entitlements, for example Universal Credit or State Pension
- Passport Office – to cancel a British passport
- Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) – to cancel a licence, remove the person as the keeper of up to 5 vehicles and end the vehicle tax (you must contact DVLA separately if you either sell the vehicle or keep it and tax it in your own name)
- the local council – to cancel Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction (sometimes called Council Tax Support), a Blue Badge, inform council housing services and remove the person from the electoral register
- Veterans UK – to cancel or update Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments
HMRC and DWP will contact you about the tax, benefits and entitlements of the person who died.
Tell Us Once will also contact some public sector pension schemes so that they cancel future pension payments. They’ll notify:
- My Civil Service Pension
- NHS Pensions for NHS staff in England and Wales
- Armed Forces Pension Scheme
- Scottish Public Pension Agency schemes for NHS staff, teachers, police and firefighters in Scotland
- Local Government Pension Schemes (LGPS) that participate in Tell Us Once
There’s a different process to update property records if the person who died owns land or property.
If you do not use Tell Us Once
You must let the relevant organisations know about the death yourself if either:
- you choose not to use the Tell Us Once service
- the person died abroad and the death has not been registered with the UK authorities
Banks and other financial organisations
Contact the person’s bank or mortgage, pension or insurance providers to close or change the details of their accounts.
Deal with your own benefits , pension and taxes
Your tax, benefit claims and pension might change depending on your relationship with the person who died.
- Manage your tax, pensions and benefits if your spouse has died
- Check how benefits are affected if a child dies
Check if you need to apply to stay in the UK
If your right to live in the UK depends on your relationship with someone who died you might need to apply for a new visa.
Check the rules if: