What to Do When Someone Dies in England or Wales

06 September 2016

The death of a loved one is a very difficult time for family and friends but there are some important matters to be taken care of to ensure that the death is formally handled and recorded.

If a loved one or someone you know died in England or Wales then one of the first things you will have to do is to register the death with a Register Office.

Who Can Register a Death in England or Wales?

You can register the death if you:

  • Are a relative of the person that has died
  • Were present at the death
  • Are making the funeral arrangements.

How to Register a Death

A death should be registered within 5 days of the death in most circumstances. You can register a death at any Register Office. It’s usually best to use the Register Office nearest to where your loved one lived as this will save time in the registration process. You can find the nearest Register Office online or by calling the local authority or Council.

You may need to make an appointment with a Registrar so it is worth contacting the Register Office or by speaking to the local authority before going there. This can save any upset and wasted time.

If the deceased died in hospital and if the cause of death is clear, there may be no need for a Coroner. In these circumstances, you can register the death using the medical certificate that will be provided to you by a doctor.

If your loved one died unexpectedly then the death may have to be reported to the Coroner before the registration of the death can take place. A Coroner may only be required if the cause of death is not clear, and if it is not, they may carry out a post mortem and possibly hold an Inquest before providing the certificate required to register the death.

What Happens When I Register a Death?

You will need to speak to a Registrar in the Register Office. It will usually take about 30 minutes to register the death with a Registrar. The Registrar will require details about you and the deceased and the information will then be written onto an official register.

You will need to take some documents with you, if you have them, to help complete the process.

What Documents Do I Need to Register a Death?

  • Medical certificate with the cause of death signed by a doctor
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage Certificate or Civil Partnership Certificate
  • NHS number or medical card
  • Organ donor card

Other documents that can help to register the death, but are optional, include a utility bill or Council tax bill, driving licence and passport.

What Information Do I Need to Register a Death?

The Registrar will need the following information about the person who died:

  • Their full name and any previous names, such as their maiden name
  • Their date of birth and place of birth
  • Their address
  • Their occupation
  • Details of their spouse (including full name, date of birth and occupation)
  • Details of any benefits or State Pension they received.

Once all the paperwork has been completed and the death has been registered, you’ll be given a document called a Certificate of Registration of Death, also known as the ‘Green Form’. This document allows you to continue with the arrangements for the funeral.

What to Do After the Death is Registered

The next step is to arrange the funeral. Your loved one’s Will may give you an idea about what they wanted for their funeral, or you may have already had a conversation about this before they passed away. You should talk to a funeral director about what they wanted and get the funeral in place soon after that. If you need help to arrange the funeral see how Co-op Funeralcare can help you.

You’ll also need to start thinking about the Will and sorting out your loved one’s affairs. To help you with this process our Probate Advisory team offers free initial advice and guidance, and Co-op Legal Services can take all the stress and pressure away from you at this difficult time.

With our Probate Complete Service we take full responsibility for getting Grant of Probate and dealing with the Legal, Tax*, Property and Estate Administration affairs.

*We deal with the Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax matters of the deceased, and we deal directly with HM Revenue & Customs on your behalf.

To register a death in Scotland see National Records of Scotland and for Northern Ireland see District Registrars in Northern Ireland.

If you need help with probate, contact us:

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