What to do when someone dies


11th Feb 2021 Life

What to do when someone dies
When someone dies, as well as telling family and friends, there are certain steps that must be taken, that many are unfamiliar with. Here, Jeremy Field, managing director at C.P.J. Field. Funeral Directors, offers his step-by-step guide to the immediate actions required when someone dies

1. Get a medical certificate

When somebody dies, there is a legal process that must follow. This requires a medical professional to verify the death, regardless of where the person dies and the time of day. The person’s regular GP, doctor or hospital, depending on where the person died, will issue a Medical Certification of Cause of Death which you will need to register the death.
There are different rules if the death was unexpected, regardless of the place of death, and the emergency services must be involved who will then contact the local coroner who may wish to investigate the cause of death. The coroner will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death when their investigation is complete.

2. Register the death

Every death in England must be registered before a funeral can take place and this should be done within five working days.
The person responsible for issuing the Medical Certificate or the Coroner’s office will inform you as to where you need to register the death. You will find the numbers and relevant information on your local county council website.
It is important to note that where the death is registered is determined by where someone died and not where they lived. For more information on the documents and personal information that will be requested, click here.
You’ll also get a "green form", (certificate for burial or cremation), which you need to arrange the funeral. Instead of being handed to you, due to COVID restrictions, the green form is now sent directly to the funeral director.

3. Choose a funeral director

One of the most frequently asked questions is whether someone has to use a funeral director if their loved one has already been moved. The most important thing to remember is that you have the choice, it is your decision who carries out the funeral arrangements.
Things to consider if opting for a funeral director:
  • Funeral type: Will it be a burial or a cremation, religious or non-religious?
  • Location: Where are they based? Do they offer remote arrangements through video calling?
  • The service: What memorials do they offer? Who will be your funeral director on the day?
  • Reputation and qualification: Do they have good reviews? Are they a member of an association like the National Association of Funeral Directors or Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors?
  • Pricing: How much do they cost? Are there any third party costs not included? Do they require a deposit?

4. Work within COVID restrictions

Even in lockdown, there are still a number of options available to make the ceremony unique and in keeping with how the person who has died would have liked to have been remembered.
  • You can still visit the body if you wish 
  • You can still have the person who has died dressed in their own clothes if you wish
  • You can place personal items in the coffin if you wish 
  • Even when attendee numbers at the funeral are restricted, there are still a number of ways for family and friends to show their support i.e.
  • Planning cortege routes that the Hearse travels to allow those unable to attend in-person to line the route and say a final farewell
  • Using webcast facilities for those unable to attend to watch services online, both at crematoriums and in churches and cemeteries by using outside broadcast facilities
  • You can find answers to further questions regarding timelines, notification to family, friends, workplaces, banks and financial organisations as well as dealing with finances, administration and estates, here.
Founded in 1690, C.P.J Field is the UK’s oldest family-run funeral directors. With over 30 homes across southern England, the company prides itself on its family’s values, that no two lives are the same so no two funerals should be the same, as every life is unique.
For more information, visit their website.
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