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What to do when someone dies

There are several people and organisations that need to be contacted when someone dies, as well forms which must be completed.  

If you’re a relative or friend of the deceased, you can do some of these things yourself. Others will need to be done by the executor or administrator of the estate.  

A directory of organisations offering support and advice to help people through this difficult time is available from At a Loss.  

What to do in the first few days 

You will not be able to do everything right away, but in the first few days it’s important to: 

  • await the issue of medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD) signed by a doctor, which will be needed to register the death 
  • take instructions from the coroner’s officers regarding registration of the death if the coroner is involved 
  • register the death once the doctor has issued the certificate, after which you’ll receive the documents needed to arrange the funeral 
  • begin arrangements for the funeral, remembering to check the will for any special requests  
  • contact a funeral director if you intend to use one  
  • inform the family doctor of the death. 

As early as possible you should: 

  • contact the executor nominated in the will to enable them to start the process of obtaining probate  
  • decide who will apply to administer the deceased’s affairs if there’s no will 
  • apply for letters of administration, if necessary. 

Useful documents 

In addition to obtaining a medical certificate of cause of death, you will need information contained in other documents. Although you do not need to show them, it would be useful if you have the deceased person’s: 

  • birth certificate 
  • marriage or civil partnership certificate 
  • NHS number or NHS medical card 
  • organ donor card, if appropriate.