What to do when someone dies


The Red Suite, Rainham Healthy Living Centre

103-107 High Street

Rainham, Kent, ME8 8AA

Tel No. 01634 337620

Email: OrchardFamilyPractice@nhs.net




It is perfectly normal to be unsure of what to do when someone dies.  This will help guide you through the process.




You should register the death within 5 days.  You will need to book an appointment to register the death


Medway Register Office                     Tel No. 01634 338899





You need to have the medical cause of death certificate from the doctor before you can register a death. If the coroner has held a post-mortem, they will issue the medical paperwork directly to the registrar. The coroner's officer will usually contact you when the paperwork has been completed to allow you to make an appointment to register the death.

Registrations are made by appointment to avoid unnecessary waiting. Appointments can be made for between 9.30am and 3.30pm, Monday to Friday.

If the coroner has held a post-mortem, they will issue the medical paperwork directly to the registrar. The coroner's officer will usually contact you when the paperwork has been completed to allow you to make an appointment to register the death.


Registering the death will take about 30 minutes


Who should register the death


A relative should register the death.

If a relative can’t register the death, you can do it if you:

  • were there at the time of death
  • are an administrator from the hospital (if the person died in hospital)
  • are in charge of making funeral arrangements


When registering a death, you need to take:


a medical certificate of the cause of death – signed by a doctor


It is also useful, but not essential, to take the person's NHS medical card together with proof of names and address such as:


  • birth certificate
  • Council Tax bill
  • driving licence
  • marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • passport
  • proof of address (eg utility bill)


It would also be useful to bring supporting documents for yourself as the person signing the register entry (e.g. passport, driving licence and proof of address). Do not worry if any of these documents are not available as the registrar can still proceed to register the death.


Documents you will receive


Once you have registered a death, you will get:


  • a certificate for burial or cremation (the ‘green form’) - gives permission for burial or an application for cremation
  • a certificate of registration of death (form BD8) - you may need to fill this out and send it to the Department for Work and pensions if the person was getting a State Pension or benefits


You are also able to purchase certificates for the registration.


Help and support

Losing someone is never easy and it can be difficult to deal with the funeral arrangements and financial matters. Find out what financial bereavement support you can get on GOV.UK.

Bereavement support contacts:



Choose a funeral director who’s a member of either:


National Association of Funeral Directors

The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF)


These organisations have codes of practice - they must give you a price list when asked.


Funeral costs


Funeral costs can include:

  • funeral director fees
  • things the funeral director pays for on your behalf (called ‘disbursements’ or ‘third-party costs’), for example crematorium or cemetery fees, or a newspaper announcement about the death
  • local authority burial or cremation fees

Funeral directors may list all these costs in their quote. You can get quotes from several funeral directors to see what is available within your budget.


Paying for a funeral

The funeral can be paid for:


  • from a financial scheme the person had, for example a pre-paid funeral plan or insurance policy
  • by you, or other family members or friends
  • with money from the person’s estate (savings, for example) - getting access to this is called applying for a ‘grant of representation’ (sometimes called ‘applying for probate’)




Tell Us Once


When someone dies their death needs to be registered with the registrar. Once registered, other organisations and government departments need to be told.

Tell Us Once lets you report a death to a range of local and central government organisations in one go.


How it works

When you register a death the registrar adds the details of the deceased to the Tell Us Once national database.

Once the details have been added, you will be given a reference number and can complete the process online or by phone.

After you register the death, it is recommended that you use the service within the first few days and no later than 28 days.

What you’ll need

Find out what you'll need when using Tell Us Once on https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death/organisations-you-need-to-contact-and-tell-us-once


Use the Tell Us Once service online



Or phone 0800 085 7308 or using text phone 0800 141 2218.


Other Organisations/People


GP                                                                    Bank/Building Society

Relatives/Friends                                            Insurance Companies (life,car, travel)

Funeral Director                                             Credit card providers

Register Office                                                            Solicitor/Accountant

Employer/School                                             Mortgage provider/landlord

Other Health Professionals                             Utility Companies (ie. Gas, Electric, water)

(ie Hospitals)                                                   Mobile phone Companies/Broadband

Dentist                                                             Subscriptions

Opticians                                                         Social groups/clubs

Post office (redirect post if needed)              




Applying for Probate


Applying for the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (their ‘estate’) when they die is called ‘applying for probate’.

If the person left a will, you’ll get a ‘grant of probate’.

If the person did not leave a will, you’ll get ‘letters of administration’.

When probate is not needed

You may not need probate if the person who died:

  • had jointly owned land, property, shares or money - these will automatically pass to the surviving owners
  • only had savings or premium bonds

Contact each asset holder (for example a bank or mortgage company) to find out if you’ll need probate to get access to their assets. Every organisation has its own rules.

How to apply for Probate

Details on how to apply can be found at https://www.gov.uk/applying-for-probate/apply-for-probate

Who can apply


Only certain people can apply for probate to deal with the estate of someone who died. It depends on whether the person who died left a will.


A will states what should happen to a person’s property and belongings (‘estate’) after they die. It’s usually valid if it’s been signed by the person who made it and 2 witnesses.


If there’s a will

You can apply for probate if you’re named in the will, or in an update to the will (a ‘codicil’), as an ‘executor’.


If you do not want to apply for probate and there are no other named executors, contact your local probate office to find out what to do.


You’ll need the original will and any updates to apply for probate. These must be original documents, not photocopies.


If the person did not leave a will


It’s the ‘administrator’ who deals with the estate.


You can apply to become the estate’s administrator if you were the deceased’s:

  • spouse (husband or wife) - even if you were separated
  • civil partner
  • child

To apply follow https://www.gov.uk/applying-for-probate/apply-for-probate


You’ll receive ‘letters of administration’ to prove you have the legal right to deal with the estate.




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