For advice on choosing a funeral director, making arrangements without using a funeral director, and/or looking after your loved one's body at home, see resources listed later in this factsheet.
If the GP or hospital doctor is able to issue a medical certificate (see below), you may now ask a funeral director to collect your loved one's body from the house or hospital and take it to their chapel of rest.
If your friend or relative died at home, ring their next of kin (if it's not you) and the GP surgery. The GP may visit the house.
If it's out of hours or you don't know who their doctor is, ring NHS 111.
The funeral director will generally come within an hour of being contacted. But if you would like longer to sit with your loved one's body, wait for family or friends, or simply to feel more ready, ask them to come later.
Practical arrangements: ten key tasks
Healthwatch Slough, as consumer champion for health and social care, listens to people's experiences. We've produced this factsheet in response to enquiries we've received from people worried and confused about what to do after the death of a loved one.
If you are facing the death of a friend or family member, we are sorry for your loss.
We hope this guide will give you some practical guidance at this difficult time.
A Medical Certificate giving the cause of death is usually given to you by the hospital doctor or the GP. You may have to collect it from the GP surgery.
In some circumstances - for instance if the death wasn't anticipated or if the cause can't be confirmed - the doctor isn't permitted to issue the certificate. Instead they report the death to the coroner.
In this case, a funeral director arranged by the coroner will transfer your loved one's body to a hospital mortuary. There a post mortem may take place before the death can be certified.
Once you have either the medical certificate or permission from the coroner, you can register the death, which is a legal obligation. You must normally register within five days of the person's death.
Find the Register Office nearest to you or the place of death at https://www.gov.uk/register-offices or look in the local phone directory.
You may visit whichever office is most convenient for you, although the one in the area where death occurred will be the quickest in issuing the necessary paperwork.
Phone the Register Office before your visit to book an appointment.
When you visit you will need to take the medical certificate and details about the person who has died - see checklist (left).
Other helpful but non-essential supporting documents to take if you have them:
Marriage/civil partnership certificate
NHS medical card
Proof of address (theirs and yours)
A death certificate (Certificate for Registration of Death) is a copy of the entry made by the registrar in the death register.
You will need this certificate to deal with future arrangements. Registering a death is free but to get a certificate you will need to pay £4-£10 per copy.
We would recommend that you get extra copies at the same time - it is cheaper now than later. The registrar can advise on how many you might need but typically it's about five.
Essentials for registering:
Full name & any previous names
Most recent address and occupation
Details of pension & any other state benefits
Info about about person who has died:
Name, date of birth and occupation of spouse/civil partner
Keep medical certificate safe
Arrange burial or cremation
Check whether the person made known their preference regarding burial or cremation - in their will, funeral plan, a letter or conversation. If there are no clear wishes, normally their executor or nearest relative decides.
The decision may be determined by faith or cultural tradition. If they had a religious faith, contact their local church, mosque, synagogue or temple for guidance.
Choice of burial or cremation may be influenced by personal feelings, practical issues or cost. Burial is commonly regarded as being more expensive than cremation but this varies depending on the specific arrangements you choose.
You can choose any form of funeral service including a religious or non-religious ceremony or no service at all.
Detailed information to help you with planning a funeral and related topics are listed below.
More about arranging funerals, burials & cremation
Pass on green certificate
The Registrar will also give you a Certificate for Burial & Cremation. This is known as the green certificate.
It gives permission for the body to be buried or for an application for cremation to be made. You should give this to the funeral director.
For many people, funeral ceremonies and gatherings are an important opportunity to say goodbye alongside others who knew their loved one; to draw strength from each other and/or their faith; and to remember their life.
Planning an affordable & meaningful funeral
Choosing a Funeral Director
(includes questions to ask)
Search online for local funeral directors with fee comparison
Natural Death Centre: alternative options including not using a funeral director
Detailed summaries of religious & cultural funeral practices & traditions
You may have the responsibility for dealing with the 'estate' i.e. any money and property left by person who has died.
There are special rules about who does this, based on whether or not the person left a will.
If you are named as an executor or think you are entitled to deal with the estate, you will need to apply for a Grant of Representation (except in some circumstances such as if the value of the estate is less than £5,000). Or you can appoint a solicitor to do it.
You will also hear this called applying for 'Probate'.
Slough Borough Council offers a 'Tell Us Once' service which enables you to inform them and several other government departments all in one go, including HRMC (tax). You can do this:
- in person when you register the death
- by phone* 0800 085 7308
- online* at http://tinyurl.com/Gov-Tell-Us-Once
*Ask for a reference number from the Registrar when you register the death.
You will need to return the person's driving licence and passport by post.
Our checklist (left) shows other organisations it's important to inform.
Which are included in the standard service charge? Which are charged as extras?
What facilities and services are offered?
To reduce junk mail, register (for free) with the Bereavement Register, Mailing Preference Service and Royal Mail's Opt Out service:
When enquiring about an extra care property, ask about the facilities, services, and how they are paid for..
Council & government depts (Tell Us Once)
Pension scheme provider/s
Mortgage provider or landlord
Banks & building societies
0207 089 6403
0845 703 4599
Property & financial affairs
More about sorting out property & finances
Dealing with an Estate & How to be an Executor
Wills, probate & inheritance
HMRC Probate & Inheritance Tax helpline:
This can include grief counselling, information, advice or practical help, and tailored support for people from specific ethnicities and faiths.
If you're struggling to cope with it all, your GP or your local religious or community group can be a good place to reach out for support.
Age UK free information guide:
NHS Choices information & video: Penny's story
Cruse Bereavement Care booklet:
Dealing with the death of someone close to you can be overwhelming.
Family and friends are, of course, often very important at this time.
It's likely you'll go through a huge range of emotions including shock, pain and anger.
About bereavement & grief
Freephone helpline: 0808 808 1677
Who can I contact for support?
Tel: 116 123 (free from any phone, 24hrs)
Confidential emotional support for anyone struggling to cope - you don't have to be suicidal
17 Uxbridge Road
Or visit their local branch (check opening hours):
Some resources are listed here. You can also search online, at your GP surgery, and at your nearest library.
There are also a number of organisations that offer support to help you.
0800 0177 416 Urdu, Gujarati and Hindi
Freephone 6pm-10pm every day of year
A bereavement can affect your own financial situation, especially the death of your spouse or partner. But there are many sources of help and advice to assist you. Here are six areas of potential impact and the best information sources to help you manage them.
Check funeral and burial or cremation costs in advance.
If you arrange the funeral, you are responsible for ensuring the bill is paid.
But costs may be covered in full or in part:
If there isn't enough money in the estate and no relatives or friends who can pay, the local council or hospital can arrange a Public Health Funeral which you can attend.
from the money that the person left, if there's enough
by family and friends who may wish to contribute
by a funeral plan or insurance paid for by your loved one in advance
via help from the state e.g.
a Funeral Payment
When planning a funeral, make sure
you know where the money's going to come from, especially before you add on extras.
There is no need to feel pressurised to overspend or get yourself into debt
to show your affection
But for anyone organising a funeral themselves, the Money Advice Service advises: 'You can have a funeral that is dignified and meaningful without spending a huge amount of money.'
About paying for a funeral, accessing help & reducing costs
A joint bank or
building society account automatically becomes the surviving partner's.
All direct debits and standing orders attached will be cancelled.
Any accounts solely in the name of the person who has died will be frozen. Even where you are the second credit card holder.
If you jointly
owned your home,
the position varies according to the exact legal arrangement.
If you were 'beneficial joint tenants', ownership passes to you.
If you owned it as
'tenants in common',
the person's will
(or the law if there’s no will) decides who inherits their share.
Your home & finances after bereavement
So you may need to make new arrangements for household bills, and also insurance.
Insurance policies normally terminate if the main policyholder dies.
Money Advice Service: 0800 138 7777
Citizens Advice: 03444 111444
Down to Earth: 020 8983 5055
Money Advice Service: 0800 138 7777
An individual's debts are paid from the estate if there's enough or else written off. They aren't passed to anyone else.
However, debts in joint names become the sole responsibility of the surviving person.
If you have a joint mortgage, check whether there is a provision or policy in place which will pay off the outstanding mortgage if one person dies.
Worried about debt? Contact Citizens Advice or another free debt advisor via the Money Advice Service or Slough Advice Centre.
About benefits, tax and debt after bereavement
If you were married or in a civil partnership, you may be eligible to receive:
Bereavement Payment (£2,000)
Widowed Parent's Allowance
pension payments based on your spouse's contributions
Check to see what financial support is available to people in your situation.
This is because such a loss often changes:
a) your income
b) your allowances
receive the allowances to which you are entitled
pay the right amount of income tax going forward
Sometimes loved ones leave debts e.g. an outstanding credit card balance or loan.
The death of a spouse or civil partner may affect your tax situation.
And, whatever your relationship, there are a range of general, means-tested benefits available to people on low incomes which you may want to consider claiming.
Use the information sources listed below to check what you should do to ensure you:
Money Advice Service: 0800 138 7777
Citizens Advice: 03444 111444
Department of Work & Pensions Bereavement Service: 0345 606 0265
Hearse icon: Andrew Cameron, Noun Project
Slough Advice Centre: 0344 515 1380
Destiny Support: 01753 552271*
*Or visit in person at Chalvey Community Centre
For advice and support locally
Sources & further reading