Help & Advice First Steps

When someone dies: What to do next?

If you are dealing with the loss of a loved one, there can be lots of things you need to think about. To help you navigate this difficult time, we’ve put together a guide for what to do in the initial days and months following their death.

What are the first steps when someone dies?

  • Get a medical certificate – if your loved one has died in hospital, the hospital will usually issue the certificate for you, otherwise you should speak to their GP about obtaining this important document.
  • Register the death – this needs to be done within 5 days of the death (8 in Scotland), and will give you the necessary documentation for arranging a funeral. For more information on how to register a death, you can read our guide.
  • Arrange the funeral – once you have selected your funeral director to help you plan the funeral, you can contact us via telephone, email or visit the funeral home where one of the Wakefield Funeral Services expert arrangers will discuss your needs with you. It’s worth noting that you can start funeral arrangements while you wait to for any legal documentation.
  • Notify people – if you are the spouse or civil partner of the person who has died, you will need to tell their friends and family about the death. This part is never easy, but it can help to have bereavement support.
  • Notify relevant organisations – there are a number of organisations that will need to know about the loss. These include the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and other relevant government departments. For more information about who to tell about the death, please read our guide: Letting people know.
  • Deal with online accounts – this includes online banking and any social media accounts your loved one may have. Each platform will have Terms of Service unique to them, so you may require different legal documentation to access it.  
  • Organise the estate – this is usually left to the person named as executor of the Will, and it is their job to organise the money and property of the deceased.

What happens when someone dies in hospital?

If your loved one has died in hospital, the hospital staff will be there to support you in the initial stages. They will issue a medical certificate and store the body in the hospital mortuary until the funeral director or family members arrange for the body to be moved.

What to do when someone dies at home?

If your loved one has died at home, the first thing to do is call the GP or family doctor. They will then visit the house and, if the death was expected, issue a medical certificate which states the cause of death. You should then register the death at the Register Office where a death certificate will be provided.

If the death was unexpected, a coroner will need to be contacted and a post-mortem examination may have to be carried out – this could delay funeral plans.

What happens when someone dies abroad?

If someone dies abroad, the death will need to be registered in accordance with the local authorities. The British Consul will also need to be notified so they can authorise a consulate death certificate.

What to say when someone dies?

Although there is no definitive “right” or “wrong” thing to say when someone dies, people deal with grief differently. The mourning period can feel isolating or lonely, so it’s important to reach out to those who are grieving – a phone call or card will go a long way.

How long until a funeral when someone dies in the UK?

A funeral is usually held within 1-2 weeks of the death, but this can vary depending on the bereaved family and their religious beliefs. For instance, some religions require a loved one to be buried within 24 hours of death, whereas others must adhere to a strict set of rites and rituals before the burial.

Who is the next of kin when someone dies?

The term next of kin refers to ‘a person’s closest living relative or relatives’. The order of priority is usually seen as:

  • Spouse or civil partner 
  • Children 
  • Parents
  • Siblings

Do you need help arranging a funeral for your loved one?

Our friendly team at Wakefield Funeral Services is here to help navigate you through this difficult time. Give us a call to discuss funeral arrangements or alternatively, you can view our prices online.

Do you need Bereavement Support?

There are a wide range of organisations that can offer support in coping with your grief, or simply being someone to talk to outside of your family and friends. Funeral Partners bereavement advice line is available Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 9am to 2pm on 0808 164 2239.

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