What to do Next

It can be a very confusing time following the death of a loved one and difficult decisions have to be made. We have put this information together as an overview of what happens after someone dies and the steps that need to taken to deal with the legal, financial and practical issues.

Register the Death

After someone dies, you may experience intense emotion and have the feeling of being numb which makes it extremely difficult to concentrate.

First thing is to contact the doctor (GP) or hospital for the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death or contact the Coroner’s office to find out when you will be able to register the death.

You have 5 days to register the death and receive the death certificate – you may find it useful to get additional copies as some finance companies may request a copy of the certificate. You can register the death at the nearest Register Office which you will receive the relevant documents straight away – this normally takes roughly 30 minutes, so it is advised to make an appointment before hand.

Registering the death can be a very upsetting time, so if possible take someone with you to the appointment for support.

Post-Mortem or Inquest

If the death is unknown or unexpected, then a post-mortem or an inquest may be required. If an examination is needed, the reason will be explained to you by the doctor/coroner.

You will unable to register the death until after the procedure has been done and a report have been completed. The coroner is responsible for sending the relevant paperwork to the registrar and can also supply you with an interim death certificate to prove that the person has passed away. You will be able to use this to let organisations know of the death and apply for probate.


The funeral is a good opportunity to say goodbye to the person who has passed away or it can also be looked upon as an occasion to celebrate their life. Some people may have left a letter or have told family or friends what arrangements they would prefer for their funeral and may have even arranged a pre-paid funeral plan. If they have, then the process of arranging the funeral may be a little simpler.

If you are unsure of their wishes, there are quite a few decisions that need to be made, these include deciding on what type of funeral and location, to the choice of music and readings for the service.

‘If the death of a loved one was expected or sudden, dealing with the arrangements can be exhausting, overwhelming and even confusing. You may find that asking a friend or relative to help you, reduces some of the stress’.