What to do in the event of someone dying | Probate Law

The loss of someone close to you can be tragic, and the pain compounded all the more because you have to undertake steps that you would prefer not to do when grieving.

There are 3 steps that must be done soon after death.

You must register the death with in five days, registering the death will give you the documents you need for the funeral.

A medical certificate will be required; you will be able to obtain one from a Doctor or Hospital.

Finally you will need to make the funeral arrangements, this does not have to be done through a funeral director, but most people choose to do it that way.


You will have what seems like 101 other things to do, personal belongings, probate, sale of property but all this can be done at a later date.


The Medical certificate is the first thing to do; professional services at the time will be able to help you with this, if the death has been reported to a coroner you will not be able to obtain a certificate until they have finished their work.

Once you have obtained the medical certificate you will need to registering the death, you will be able to register the death if you are - related to the deceased, were in attendance at the time of death, a hospital administrator or if you are working with the funeral directors.

To register the death you will need to take the medical certificate, and if you have them the birth and marriage certificate, NHS card, these are optional and if you don’t have them it will not stop you registering the death.

Once you have completed the formalities providing all the information, you will receive two certificates a burial certificate and the registration certificate, it may be advisable at this point to purchase extra death certificates as you will need these to when sorting out the deceased affairs.

It is possible that the death has been reported to a coroner, this can be for a number of reasons to establish the cause of death, if it is clear the doctor will complete the medical certificate and you will also receive a certificate from the coroner to say that a post-mortem is not required.

If the coroner decided that a post mortem is required, this must then take place, you can request to know when and where this will take place.

Once the coroner has completed the examination and he has established cause of death the deceased will be released for a funeral to take place and the coroner will inform the register of the cause of death, and if a cremation is to take place a cremation certificate will also be produced.

If the cause of death has not been established an inquest will be held, until the inquest has been held you will not be able to register the death, once completed the coroner will provide the register the information as to the cause of death.

You may need proof of the death and if you do the coroner can give you a certificate to prove that the death has occurred.

In most cases the funeral cannot take place until the registration has been completed, as mentioned the vast majority of people elect to use a funeral director, but some councils do offer this service, or you may wish to explore non-religious funerals. Should you wish to arrange the funeral your local council will have a department to assist with funerals.

Costs will be incurred for a funeral but if you have problems paying, you can apply for assistance.

As this is such a difficult time, must councils run a ‘tell us once’ service and the council will inform all the different government bodies for you.

There will of course be other organisations to deal with such as Banks; Utilities etc. most will request that you send a death certificate.

The deceased may have made provision for completing their affairs through a solicitor, or through a Will.

Refer to the section on Wills and Probate.


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