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Whenever anyone dies it is always a traumatic and upsetting time for those left behind. The feelings of grief can be overwhelming but there are some issues such as registering the death and arranging the funeral which have to be done promptly. Locating the will, protecting property and checking the availability of funds for a remaining spouse or partner are equally important.

Death in a hospital or hospice

The next of kin will need to formally identify the body. If the cause of death is not clear you may be asked to consent to a post-mortem examination, otherwise the attending doctor will certify the death and provide a medical certificate. You will need this in order to register the death. The body will be stored in the mortuary and you will be asked to arrange to collect it - typically this is done by a funeral director. You will also be asked to collect any personal effects.

Expected death in a residential care home

The staff will call the next of kin to inform them. If it is known that the deceased is to be cremated you should let them know at this point (see below). The staff in the home will contact the doctor who will certify the death and issue a medical certificate unless the cause of death is unclear. The staff will contact a funeral director and arrange for the body to be removed and stored awaiting your instructions.

Expected death at home

You should call the deceased's GP straight away. The doctor will confirm the death. If the doctor has seen the deceased in the past 14 days and is sure that death was from known natural causes he or she will be able to certify the death and issue a certificate, otherwise they will have to refer the death to the coroner. If you know that the deceased is to be cremated, tell the doctor at this point. The doctor may produce the certificate immediately or call you so that you can collect it.

Unexpected death

The family doctor or ambulance service should be called and the police should be informed. They may arrange for the body to be transferred to the hospital mortuary and for the coroner to be informed. See Coroners. See here for Deaths Abroad.


If the body is to be cremated a certificate signed by the doctor who certified the death and also by a second doctor is required. There is a charge for this (currently £147 + mileage costs if required if using a NADF or SAIF funeral director). Pacemakers and artificial prosthesis have to be removed. There is no fixed fee for this but £50 - £75 seems common. If you are using a funeral director they will arrange all of this.

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