What to do when someone dies

What to do when someone dies at home in the UK and their death was expected

When someone dies you should call the family doctor and nearest relative. If the death was expected, for example due to a terminal illness, in most instances the doctor or medical practitioner will verify the cause of death to allow the death to be registered at the Register Office. A Death Certificate will then be provided by the Registrar.

Having spoken with the GP practice and when you feel ready to do so, you can contact us. We will take care of all the arrangements and collect your loved one.

What to do when someone dies at home unexpectedly

Call 111 immediately and ask for advice. An unexpected death may need to be reported to a coroner. A coroner is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating unexpected deaths. They may call for a post-mortem or inquest to find out the cause of death. This may take some time, so the funeral may need to be delayed.

What to do when someone dies in hospital unexpectedly

The hospital will usually issue a medical certificate and formal notice. They will support you with the next steps you need to take.

The body will be kept in the hospital mortuary so Go Direct Cremations can collect your loved one.


What to do when someone dies abroad

The GOV.UK website offers two leaflets which explain the practical support British consular staff can offer and what you need to do when someone dies abroad. Click the button to learn more.


What to do when someone dies in the UK

You need to register the death within 5 days. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do that:

Step 1: Find a register office near me.

Your nearest register office. You can use any register office, but it is best to use the one in the area where the person died.

Step 2: What documents do you need to register a death

When you go to the register office, you will need to take with you the medical certificate showing the cause of death, signed by a doctor. If possible, also take the person’s:

  • birth certificate
  • NHS medical card or number
  • marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • driving licence
  • proof of their address.

You will have to tell the registrar:

  • the person’s full name (and any other names they had, such as a maiden name)
  • the person’s date and place of birth
  • their date and place of death
  • their usual address
  • their most recent occupation
  • whether or not they were receiving any benefits, including State Pension, and the name, occupation, and date of birth of their spouse or civil partner.

Step 3: What documents are needed for cremation from the registrar

When you have provided the required information, the registrar will give you:

  • a certificate for burial or cremation (known as the Green Form)
  • a certificate of registration of death (form BD8). You should fill this out and return it in the pre-paid envelope if the person was receiving State Pension or any benefits (this will not be necessary if you are using the Government's “Tell Us Once” service).
  • leaflets about bereavement benefits
  • a death certificate, for which there will be a charge.

Step 4: How many copies of a death certificate do I need

If you need to you can buy extra death certificates – these will be needed for the will and any claims to pensions, savings, etc.

It is best to pay for several original hard copies because copies requested later may be more expensive. Ordinary photocopies are not accepted by some organisations, such as banks or life insurance companies.

Step 5: What agencies need to be notified when someone dies

The “Tell Us Once” service can be used to report a death to several government departments in one go. The service is offered by most local authorities. You can arrange for an appointment to take place when you register the death, or you can access the service online or over the phone.

You will need to get a “Tell Us Once” reference number from the registrar.


When someone dies, you must get in touch with certain organisations to let them know as soon as possible.

(TIP: You may be able to use the “Tell Us Once” service to do some of this if it is available in your area)

The government departments that can be contacted in one go include:

  • local services such as libraries, electoral services, and council tax services
  • the tax office
  • the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
  • the UK Passport Agency
  • HMRC for tax purposes.

If your local authority does not offer the “Tell Us Once" service, you will need to contact these departments yourself.

You will need to return their driver's licence to the DVLA and passport to HM Passport Office.

You may need to contact other organisations as well:

  • pension scheme provider
  • insurance company
  • bank and building society
  • employer
  • mortgage provider, housing association or council housing office
  • social services
  • utility companies
  • GP, dentist, optician, and anyone else providing medical care
  • any charities, organisations, or magazine subscriptions the deceased person made regular payments to
  • the Bereavement Register, which removes their details from mailing lists and stops most advertising mail

Lasting Power of Attorney?

When someone dies who has given Lasting Power of Attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney to a third party, if you are their attorney, you should return any documents supporting this to the Office of the Public Guardian, along with a death certificate.

Find out more about Power of Attorney

A power of attorney may include specific wishes


How do I go about arranging a funeral?

What to do when someone dies when they have left funeral instructions in their will or a letter about their wishes.

If there are no clear wishes, the executor or nearest relative will usually decide if the body will be cremated or buried and what type of funeral will take place.

Go Direct Cremations is a subsidiary of Aquatorium Ltd. We specialise in arranging cremations without ceremony, known as direct cremations.

Arranging a funeral without a funeral director

When someone dies, it is not obligatory to use a funeral director if you do not want to.  If you prefer you can have a simple funeral.  This may involve a direct cremation or cremation without ceremony.

Go Direct Cremations specialise in this type of service and will arrange this for you.  They may be contacted on 0333 4444 524


Paying for a funeral

When someone dies, arranging a funeral cannot only be stressful - it can also be expensive. If you are paying for the funeral, think carefully about what you can afford.

The funeral can be paid for by:

  • The estate of the deceased
  • You or other family members or friends
  • A lump sum from a life insurance policy or pension scheme
  • A pre-paid funeral plan
  • Funds the deceased had in a bank or building society, although they do not have to release the money until probate (the legal process of distributing the money, property and possessions of the person who has died) is granted. If there is a delay, you may need to pay the costs in the meantime.

Help with funeral costs

When someone dies, you may be able to get assistance from the Government if you are on a low income and meet the criteria.

There are strict rules about who can get help and how much you will receive. You must be claiming Pension Credit or certain other means-tested benefits and had a close relationship with the person who died – for example, you may have been their partner. For full details go to:

If you do not qualify for a Funeral Payment - or it does not cover the full costs of the funeral, you may be able to get a Budgeting Loan from the Social Fund. These are interest-free loans of between £100 and £1500 that you repay from your benefits.

To arrange a funeral in your location, please enter your town below:



Our mission is to change the funeral experience. We feel that in today’s more secular world, the desire and need for a big ceremony is no longer a prime wish for many people.

There is a move towards a simpler, cheaper yet just as dignified send-off for our loved ones.

Many families are surprised by the unexpected costs of a traditional funeral. They may be saddled with the burden of debt and Go Direct Cremations offers a simpler low-cost alternative.

We will not, however, compromise in maintaining the dignity deserved by the deceased.

Our service nationwide:

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