What to do when a death occurs?

Grieving Family at a Funeral
A woman and two children standing behind an open hearse.

What to Do When a Death Occurs

Contact the deceased’s GP, who will come to your home to confirm that a death has occurred – you can then contact your chosen funeral service. It will then be necessary to arrange with the GP surgery to collect the Death Certificate a day or so afterwards. This will be needed in order to carry out registration of death. In the event of sudden or unexpected death, the police will attend and be present for the removal of the deceased, by the Coroner’s appointed undertakers. The deceased will then stay at the Hospital Mortuary until the Coroner has assessed the need for a post mortem following the guidelines of the Ministry of Justice. When experiencing a personal bereavement, it can be difficult to consider the administrative requirements following a death.

We have provided you with some advice on how to register a death.

A death must be registered by law in the district in which it has occurred. Under normal circumstances, you will have the Doctor’s certificate giving the cause of death (in the event a death being referred to a Coroner, the procedure will be different but the Coroner’s office will advise you). Registration should take place prior to a funeral being arranged.

How do you register a death?

You can do this by:

  • Making an appointment by phone
  • Requesting your appointed funeral service to arrange an appointment
  • Book an appointment online

Who can register a death?

It is usually a relative of the deceased who registers the death. An Executor can also register. In the event there are no relatives available then any person present at the death can also register.

The Registrar will require the following information about the deceased:

  • Medical Certificate of Cause of Death
  • Date and place of death
  • Full name of the deceased (as well as their maiden name)
  • Their date and place of birth
  • Their occupation (also, the full name and occupation of their legal partner)
  • Their medical card
  • Their address
  • If married/in a civil partnership, the date of birth of surviving significant other

Documents that can legally verify the deceased:

  • Their passport, as well as your own
  • Proof of address, achieved through council tax or utility bills
  • When applicable, marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • Birth certificate

We recommend having multiple copies of the death certificate, as other people may need copies as proof of passing. After the death has been registered, you’ll be given a green coloured certificate to prove the registration has taken place, and this is to be given to your funeral director in order for the ceremony to take place. There are a few others who need to be informed after the passing of a loved one (given that all the relatives have been informed first), including:

  • Insurance companies
  • Landlords
  • Employers
  • Schools, colleges or universities
  • Bank society
  • Inland revenue
  • Credit card companies
  • GP, dentists and other medical professionals
  • Gas and electric providers
  • Benefits agency

Once you have instructed Watson & Bell to collect your loved one, we consider them to be apart of our family, for the time they are in our care, and we will treat them with all the respect and dignity we would expect to be given to one of our own relatives. We will collect a loved from the place of death, in a private ambulance and we will aim to be with you within one hour of your call, where possible unless otherwise instructed. On arrival with you, we ensure that we will guide and support you through every step of the process, from that point on, and do everything possible to reduce some of the stress felt during this emotional time. If a death occurs at home we are unable to collect a loved one until a GP has attended and given permission for them to be collected. If a death occurs in a Hospital or Hospice, we will require signed authority from the Next-of-Kin or the Executor (or person arranging the funeral).

When all parties are ready, we will remove your loved one and they will be taken into our care. All of our staff will present themselves in a smart, professional manner and are there to support you. They will be able to answer some of your questions at that time, however any question they are unable to assist with then will be addressed in due course. Watson & Bell offers a 24-hour service, 7 days a week, and the same ethos and client care are practised at all times whatever the client’s circumstances. We provide a strictly private and confidential service. We do not practice embalming (which is often referred to as ‘hygienic treatment’) as this procedure is rarely required under normal circumstances. However, If specifically requested we can arrange for this service at an additional cost. We encourage families to allow the loved one’s personality, faith and ethos be reflected in the funeral. Things you may wish to think about:

  • Clothing for a loved one to be dressed in.
  • Makeup, if they had a preference to a colour
  • Hairpieces
  • Personal items to go in the coffin (photographs, a flower, soft  toy, etc)

Viewing a loved one

You and your family and friends will have the option to come and see your loved one in our Chapel of Rest. Watson & Bell have a tranquil Chapel of Rest that provides soft lighting and adequate room for 2-3 people to view comfortably. This service is ‘By Appointment’ only, so provision will need to be made 24 hours prior to your intended visit. Viewing is part of our Professional Services during the hours of 9 am – 5 pm (Monday – Friday). Viewing appointments out of these hours may incur a charge.