What to do when someone dies
Working out what to do first when someone dies can seem overwhelming. Besides letting family and friends know, there are several organisations you need to notify. Find out what you need to do as soon as possible, as well as in the weeks and months after someone dies.
What’s in this guide
- What you need to do straight away after a death
- Get a medical certificate
- Register the death
- Arrange the funeral
- In the weeks following the death
- Notify the person’s landlord and other organisations
- Notify government departments
- Return the person’s passport and driving licence
- Notify insurers and creditors
- Extra resources and support
What you need to do straight away after a death
As soon as you can, you’ll need to get a medical certificate, register the death and arrange the funeral.
You don’t need to deal with the will, money and property immediately.
When you’re ready read our guides:
Get a medical certificate
Immediately, unless there’s a coroner’s inquest where the certificate is issued after this.
If the person died in hospital, the hospital will give this to you. If the person has died at home, call their GP.
The certificate is free.
Register the death
Within five days for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and within eight days for Scotland.
If there’s a coroner’s inquest (or procurator fiscal in Scotland), registration is delayed until the inquest concludes.
Depending on which country the deceased lived in, you must register the death:
- in England and Wales, contact the Register Office. Find your nearest register office on the GOV.UK website
- in Northern Ireland, contact the District Registration Office. Find your nearest office on the nidirect website
- in Scotland, contact the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Find out more on the National Records of Scotland website
The cost does rise if you later decide you want more copies. So it’s worth getting extra copies, as it’s usually cheaper and easier to do at this point.
This lets you deal with several organisations at the same time, instead of having to wait for your only copy to be returned before you can deal with the next one.
Any documents needed?
You need the following information for the person who died:
- medical certificate with the cause of death
- full name, including any previous names – such as maiden name
- date and place of birth
- last address
- full name, date of birth and occupation of their surviving/late spouse or civil partner if they were married.
If available, you should also take their:
- birth certificate
- marriage or civil partnership certificate
- National Insurance number
- NHS medical card
- proof of address, such as a utility bill
- driving licence
You should also bring identification, such as a driving licence, to show proof of your identity.
Arrange the funeral
When you’ve registered the death, you can arrange the funeral.
Most people do this through a funeral director, but it’s also possible to arrange the funeral yourself.
The coronavirus outbreak has imposed serious restrictions on funerals, which makes organising a meaningful ceremony seem difficult. You can find out more about what you can do by giving us a call.
Find out more about arranging a funeral through a funeral director in our guide How much does a funeral cost?
In the weeks following the death
When you’ve arranged the above, you need to start telling various organisations about the death.
Notify the person’s landlord and other organisations
As soon as possible.
If you were privately renting together and the lease is in the deceased’s name, you’ll need to let the landlord know and ask for it to be transferred to your name.
You’ll also need to have your name transferred for any bills or payments.
Organisations you might need to contact include:
- housing associations or council housing offices
- mortgage providers
- utility providers.
You’ll need to contact each organisation.
Notify government departments
As soon as possible after receiving the death certificate.
- Passport Office – to cancel their passport
- HMRC – for their taxes
- Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – to stop their State Pension and benefits
- DVLA – to cancel their driving licence, car tax and car registration documents
- Local council – for their Council Tax, electoral register and other housing benefits
- Public sector or armed forces pension scheme for their pension.
You can use the Tell Us Once service to notify the above government departments at the same time.
The service is offered by most local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland, but not in Northern Ireland.
If your local council doesn’t offer the Tell Us Once service, you’ll need to notify these departments individually.
Use the Tell Us Once service on the GOV.UK website
The service is free.
You’ll need to provide the following information:
- unique reference number given to you when you register the death
- name, date of death and National Insurance number of the deceased
- contact details, date of birth, passport number (if available) and National Insurance number of the next of kin
- details of the person dealing with the deceased’s estate
- permission from the next of kin, the executor, the administrator or anyone who was claiming joint benefits or entitlements with the deceased, to give out their contact details.
If available, you should also provide:
- name and address of their next of kin
- details of any benefits or entitlements they were getting, such as State Pension
- details of any local council services they were getting, such as Blue Badge
- name contact details of the person or company dealing with the deceased’s estate – the ‘executor’ or ‘administrator’
- details of any public sector or armed forces pension schemes they were getting or paying into.
Return the person’s passport and driving licence
As soon as possible after receiving the death certificate
By post. See the following links for details of where to send these documents:
It’s likely that your household finances changed when your partner died. There are things you can do to manage the bills, mortgage, insurance and finances.
Find out more in our guide Managing your finances after your partner dies
Notify insurers and creditors
Ideally, as soon as possible after receiving the death certificate, or within a month of the death.
Insurance company, bank or building society, credit card companies, utility companies, pension provider and any other companies that owed money to the person who died or were owed money by them.
By calling the company, visiting the local branch (for banks or building society), or by visiting their website, where they might have an online form that you can complete.
If you know the account details you can use the free websites Settld or LifeLedger to help you contact the utility companies, banks, pension providers, insurance firms, TV and broadband providers and even social media websites about a bereavement.
Doing this should help save time and stress as you only need to upload the death certificate once within the service.
You can also contact a number of financial institutions, including most major banks and building societies, even if you didn’t know about the account, using the free online Death Notification Service
You should also place a deceased estates notice in The Gazette to inform any other creditors. If you don’t do this, you might be liable for any unidentified debts.
It’s free to notify these companies. But the person who died might have had outstanding debts or payment arrangements with these companies that need to be settled.
How you sort out the person’s financial affairs will depend on whether they made a will or died without a will.
Find out more in our guides:
Any documents needed?
You’ll need official copies of the death certificate when dealing with these companies.
You’ll also need to give the contact details of the executor or administrator of the estate.
In England and Wales, you won’t need a confirmatory medical certificate to authorise a cremation. The rules in Scotland and Northern Ireland are slightly different.
Find out more on the British Medical Association website
Extra resources and support
You can find out more about what to do when someone dies by visiting these websites:
Late miscarriage, stillbirth and neonatal death
You can find out more about financial help at this difficult time in our guides:
Dealing with the death of someone close to you can seem overwhelming.
Your GP or your local religious or community group is often a good place to start to looking for support in dealing with bereavement.
There are also a number of organisations that offer support to help you deal with your grief: