What to do when someone dies

What to do when someone dies

The main thing to know is that there is absolutely no rush to make decisions or take action at this stage. The time immediately after a person dies (and for up to three days afterwards, depending on your beliefs) is a very special time of transition. When you are ready, you can call Family Tree at any time; we will tell you exactly what you need to do, and help and guide you through each of the different stages.

We will talk you through any aspects of the process that you need to know at this early stage. We will arrange a time to come and collect the person’s body and take them into our care until the funeral, if this is what you want.  See also ‘Keeping the Body at Home’.

We will discuss the sort of funeral arrangements you and your family would like and make sure that you know what to do next.

Contact Family Tree Funerals

We can be contacted on 01453 767 769, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

The Next Steps

1. Contact your doctor, even if it’s late at night.

The doctor or a District Nurse will come to the house, as soon as practically possible, to issue a Medical Certificate that confirms the cause of death. The person’s body cannot be moved until this has happened. The certificate will be available from the GP surgery the following day.

If you know that you would like the person to be cremated tell your doctor, as they will need to prepare different forms and arrange for a second doctor to visit and countersign.

N.B. If the death was ‘sudden’ (i.e if the person had not been ‘attended by a medical practitioner during his or her last illness’, or had not been seen by a doctor during the last 14 days) the doctor will need to report the death to the coroner: they will also need to do this if it might be considered that the person died:

  • Following an accident or injury
  • Due to an industrial disease
  • During a surgical operation
  • If the cause of death is unknown
  • Or if the death is unexplained

If these apply, the person’s body will need to go to the coroner’s office for further examination. While this may be upsetting for the family, it is currently standard practice in one third of all deaths, and is unavoidable.

2. Contact a funeral director (Family Tree Funerals - 01453 767 769)

A good funeral director will talk you through any aspects of the process that you need to know at this early stage. They will arrange a time to come and collect the person’s body to take them into their care until the funeral, (if this is what you want).  See also ‘Keeping the Body at Home’.

They will make sure that you know what to do and prepare you for the next steps; the authorities at each stage will be very helpful about what to do next as well.

Your funeral director will arrange a time to meet with you to discuss the funeral arrangements.

You can contact Family Tree on 01453 767 769 at any time for care and assistance.

3. Call the registrar of the district in which the death occurred

you Call the registrar of the district in which the death occurred, and arrange an appointment.

Gloucestershire Central Booking line: 01242 532 455.

Stroud: The Old Victorian School, Parliament Street, Stroud, GL5 1DY 01452 425 275. Closed for lunch. 12.30- 1.30.

Cheltenham: Council Offices, St. George’s Rd, GL50 3EW.

Cirencester: Cirencester Library, The Waterloo, GL7 2PZ 1285 650 455. Check for opening times on the central booking line.

Forest of Dean: The Oaks, Belle Vue Centre, 6 Belle Vue Road, Cinderford, GL14 2AB Check for opening times on the central booking line.

Gloucester: 01452 425 275, Shire Hall, Westgate St. GL1 2TG.

Moreton-in-Marsh: Moreton Library, Stow Road, GL56 0DR. Check for opening times on the central booking line.

Swindon: Civic Offices, Euclid Street, SN1 2JH Tel: 01793 521734 or 01793 522738.

You need to meet with the Registrar within five days (not always possible if they are fully booked, but call as a priority anyway).

Who can register the death?

  •    The next of kin, or a close relative of the person who has died
  •    A relative in attendance during the last illness
  •    A relative living in the district
  •    If none of the above are available, a person present at the time of death e.g. The Officer in charge of the Nursing Home, a solicitor, an executor or the person paying the funeral bill

For the appointment you will need:

  •    The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, given to you by the person’s doctor
  •    Their medical card, if possible
  •    Birth and marriage certificates, if possible
  •    The registration number of the person’s ‘government pension’ (if applicable)

The information the registrar will require include:

  •    The date and place of the person’s death
  •    The full name of the person who has died and their maiden name (if relevant)
  •    The date and place of their birth
  •    Their occupation and home address
  •    If the person is a married woman, her husband’s age and occupation.
  •    Information as to whether the person was receiving any state benefits or pensions.

The Registrar will issue, and explain:

The Registrar’s Certificate for Burial or Cremation (The Green Form). This allows burial, or for an application for cremation to be made (see below). This form should be given to the Funeral Director.

Certified Copies of an Entry. An official certificate that death has occurred and has been registered; additional copies will be needed for probate, bank/building society, and others involved in the administration of the person’s estate. (An £11 charge will be made for these, and generally at least four extra copies are needed, depending on how complex the ‘estate’.)

The Certificate of Registration of Death (Form 344/Form BD8 or White Form) for Dept. of Social Security, if applicable. The Registrar will also provide leaflets relating to bereavement benefits and income tax for the surviving spouse (if appropriate).

You will also be able to access the Tell Us Once service which allows you to inform central and local government services of the death at one time, rather than having to contact each service individually.

N.B. Registration by declaration – the death has to be registered in the district where it occurred. If your loved one died elsewhere in the UK and you cannot get there to register the death you can apply to “register by declaration” at a registry office of your choice. This will entail a wait of an extra few days. If this needs to happen, we can liaise with both registry offices on your behalf.

 

 

4. Burial or Cremation?

Do you yet know if you would like a burial or a cremation? If it is to be a cremation, the first doctor will arrange for a second doctor who will need to examine the person’s body. This usually happens in a hospital before the body is allowed to leave their premises. If the person dies at home, the first doctor will arrange for the second doctor to come to the premises of the funeral director, unless you would like the body to stay at home for a short while (we can advise on how best to do this).

Generally, a minimum of five full working days is required before a cremation can take place, due to the paperwork needed. 7-10 days allows more time for travel, catering, service design etc. between the death and the cremation service.

5. Applications, certifications and approvals for cremation.

Unless you want to operate without a funeral director, Family Tree will handle all of the necessary paperwork for the cremation on your behalf.

Local Crematoria

Cheltenham: GL52 5JT. Northern edge of the town towards Prestbury, on Bounder’s Lane. Two bright new chapels which opened in Spring 2018.  45-minute service time

Gloucester: GL44PA. Turn right off the A38 Northern bypass, just after the Barton St/Painswick Rd. roundabout coming from Stroud. Functional, close. Good cafe. 30-minute service time.

Westerleigh: BS37 8QP. West off the A46, before the M4 roundabout coming from Stroud. Further, but nicer. Saturday service possible. 45-minute service time.

Others:

Forest of Dean: GL14 3HU. Opposite the Dilke Hospital on the Speech House/Coleford Rd from Cinderford.

Swindon, Kingsdown: SN25 6SG. East off the A419 Swindon bypass.

Bath, Haycombe: BA2 2RQ. South of Bath, off the A39/A4 heading towards Wells.

6. Application for burial.

Permission for the body to be buried is granted through the ‘Green Form’ (Certificate for Burial or Cremation) issued by the Registrar following the visit by the family.

A family who have a relationship with the minister will usually contact the minister personally, asking if they will conduct the funeral, and suggest two or three alternative dates and times. We can do this for you.

The Minister/Council Officer designates and marks the grave to be prepared. The funeral director confirms and arranges all the details for the preparation, such as the size of the coffin, the required depth of the grave (single or double), the date and time of the funeral, and whether the family are likely to want to fill in the grave themselves after the committal.

The funeral director will also liaise with the minister to establish and confirm the fine details of the arrangements.

If the family are not religious, Family Tree can recommend an appropriate and experienced celebrant who will work with them to create and conduct the kind of ceremony required.

7. Organ donation/ Medical research?

7. Organ donation/ Medical research?

The law around organ donation is England changes in Spring 2020 to an “opt-in” system. This means you will automatically be presumed to consent to organ donation unless you have taken the necessary deliberate steps to opt out. Organ donation only takes place if you die in hospital as it needs to be done quickly (exceptions to this are for cornea and skin donation).

This new law does not apply to children under 18, those lacking mental capacity, those here on holiday and who die whilst here, and those who have lived here less than 12 months.

If you are considering whole-body donation to science/research, there are protocols you need to follow. It’s not something your family can request after you’ve died as you need to have completed the necessary paperwork. Our nearest place for donation is Bristol University: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/anatomy/bequests/

8. Is repatriation required?

To return the person’s body back to their home country from the UK, or to bring a body home to the UK from abroad, the Coroner’s permission is required, usually at least four days in advance. There are very specific requirements for the closing of the coffin by Customs and Excise, and specialised regulations depending on the country to which the person is being sent. Family Tree can handle all of these arrangements for you, in conjunction with our worldwide agents.

9. Wills and probate.

Some short time after the person dies, someone needs to deal with their ‘estate’ – their money, property, possessions, and other issues arising from the will. This involves collecting all the information and monies, paying any debts and distributing the estate to those entitled. The person dealing wtih this is the executor (there can be more than one appointed). Or a solicitor can be appointed to deal with the estate.

Otherwise you can obtain the required forms from your nearest Probate Office. You may have to attend an informal interview to confirm the details on the form and to discuss any queries.

The Probate Office (Registry) issues a document called “the grant representation”. There are two basic types of grant/deed:

  1. Probate – issued to one or more of the executors named in the will.
  2. Letters of Administration – issued when there is a will but no executor has been named (or the one named is unable to deal with the estate), or when the person has not left a will, or the will is considered invalid.

The need for a grant:

Organisations holding money in the person’s name need to know to whom the monies are to be paid. The distribution of the estate is the responsibility of the person named in the deed.

A grant is sometimes not needed if the person’s money can be released without the holder of the monies needing to see a grant – i.e. when the amount is small and there are no complications.

Probate office:

Gloucester Probate Sub-Registry, 2nd Floor, Combined Court Building, Kimbrose Way, Gloucester GL1 2DC. Tel: 01452 522585 General Helpline: 0845 302090

The executor(s) will need to sort out at least some of the following:

Car:

The car insurance company (if you were insured under the deceased person’s name). DVLA, to return their driving licence, and change registration details.

Residential affairs:

  • Landlord/Local Council/Home Insurance Company.
  • Utility and service providers.
  • Post Office, to re-direct mail. The Bereavement Trust, who will arrange to take the person’s name off all mailing lists to avoid future unsolicited mail.
  • Dentists/opticians/hospitals etc. to cancel appointments, and to amend their patient lists.

Finance:

  • Banks/Building Societies to close or amend account details.
  • Life Insurance companies to claim entitlements.
  • Social Security, to claim any pension or bereavement benefit to which you may be entitled.
  • Inland Revenue, Pension Plan Providers, Credit and Store Card companies.
  • Return National Insurance documents/State Benefit documents/Passport/Library books and tickets/and any season tickets/TV licences and claim for a refund.

10. Helpful resources.

Death can be a uniquely shocking time for a family, and no two people are affected in the same way; there is an increasing body of literature and media attention on the subject of Death and Dying, as well as workshops, Death Cafes and so on. But it’s different when it’s actually happening/ happened to someone close to you.

Please contact Family Tree if you want to go over anything, and consider making use of these friendly, understanding and practical support organisations – or any other sources of support.

Cruse Bereavement Support: 0844 477 9400
www.crusebereavementcare.org.uk

The Bereavement Trust
www.bereavement-trust.org.uk

If children or young adults are involved, the Cruse young person’s helpline is 0808 808 1677
info@rd4u.org.uk

Children’s bereavement advice and help
www.childbereavement.org.uk

Winston’s Wish specialises in helping bereaved families with children. Tel: 08452 03 04 05
www.winstonswish.org.uk

Death Cafes are informal but facilitated groups who meet over tea and cake to discuss, share and explore issues about death. www.deathcafe.com

“It does not seem almost a month ago that we all gathered to say goodbye to J. Family and friends still agree that it was a strangely beautiful day, and beneficial to all of us in our various states of …

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S.D

Frampton on Severn

“It does not seem almost a month ago that we all gathered to say goodbye to J. Family and friends still agree that it was a strangely beautiful day, and beneficial to all of us in our various states of shock and grief. K – J’s friend, thanked us for ‘the proudest moment of his life’ – and it was clearly important to many others that J. had a ‘hands-on’ farewell. Thank you for that.”

S.D

Frampton on Severn

“Thank you. Thank you for making what could have been a nightmare very beautiful. You inspired us to be creative and to truly celebrate our daddy openly, and we are all very grateful to you for that…

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H.B

Bath

“Thank you. Thank you for making what could have been a nightmare very beautiful. You inspired us to be creative and to truly celebrate our daddy openly, and we are all very grateful to you for that. It is profound and beautiful to turn sad introspection into theatrical celebration – and that was in fact the essence of our father. He would have loved it! Thank you for your patience and kindness.”

H.B

Bath

“Incredible, yesterday. Most splendid funeral I have ever attended, and unfortunately I have attended many. Thank you again. I know you made my granddaughter happy. She is a different girl today, mu…

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R

Stroud

“Incredible, yesterday. Most splendid funeral I have ever attended, and unfortunately I have attended many. Thank you again. I know you made my granddaughter happy. She is a different girl today, much more positive, and going back to college next week ……….your “send-off” for her mother did something wonderful for her.”

R

Stroud

“It was a beautiful funeral; I know that if you had not been so flexible and had so many good ideas it would not have been like this. We’ve had lots of feedback from Mum’s friends about what a g…

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Q

Stroud

“It was a beautiful funeral; I know that if you had not been so flexible and had so many good ideas it would not have been like this. We’ve had lots of feedback from Mum’s friends about what a good funeral it was.”

Q

Stroud

“On behalf of my mother, and my wife, I sincerely thank you for all your kindness, thoughtfulness and compassion shown to us all before, during, and after Dad’s funeral. I was a deeply emotional t…

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L.T

Cashes Green, Stroud

“On behalf of my mother, and my wife, I sincerely thank you for all your kindness, thoughtfulness and compassion shown to us all before, during, and after Dad’s funeral. I was a deeply emotional time for us, and your personal assistance helped us enormously. The planning for Dad’s funeral was so trouble free, all thanks to you. We all had no doubts that everything would not run smoothly on the day with you at the helm, and as thought, it did. The layout and contents of Dad’s service sheet just added the final touch to making Dad’s funeral so memorable for us. Thanks again for all your support.”

L.T

Cashes Green, Stroud

“I am so glad to have had your kindly and helpful support over the past couple of years whilst I have been preparing for Mum’s death. My sister and I found your gentle, low-key, but professional p…

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Dr B.W

Malvern

“I am so glad to have had your kindly and helpful support over the past couple of years whilst I have been preparing for Mum’s death. My sister and I found your gentle, low-key, but professional presence during the closing of the coffin – and throughout the funeral – very reassuring, and we both thank you most sincerely for making the experience one of great calm and peace.”

Dr B.W

Malvern

“We were all extremely happy with your arrangements for Mum’s funeral – she left clear instructions for some of the main details and I believe we complied with them in a dignified and intimate w…

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D.O

Kings Stanley

“We were all extremely happy with your arrangements for Mum’s funeral – she left clear instructions for some of the main details and I believe we complied with them in a dignified and intimate way. I have not attended many funeral ceremonies in my life but I believe we all felt that we could not have done more to make it a more meaningful occasion and one in which we all could make a personal contribution. I think it can be too easy to be a superficial participant. I thank you again for your discrete participation.”

D.O

Kings Stanley

“Thank you once again for all your care, support and concern during the past couple of weeks.”

V.W

Chalford

“Thank you once again for all your care, support and concern during the past couple of weeks.”

V.W

Chalford

“Instead of it being a very sad and stilted occasion, it seemed to me a very natural progression from a very happy life to a well earned rest. Your kind way of steering us all in the right direction, an…

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V.C

Nailsworth

“Instead of it being a very sad and stilted occasion, it seemed to me a very natural progression from a very happy life to a well earned rest. Your kind way of steering us all in the right direction, and ensuring that things ran smoothly without a lot of fuss was very much appreciated. It was very pleasing for us all to be able to play our part under your quiet guidance.”

V.C

Nailsworth

“We want to say how fortunate we feel to have had the pleasure of meeting you, and how confidently we feel that our wishes will be met.”

E.L and B.J

Painswick

“We want to say how fortunate we feel to have had the pleasure of meeting you, and how confidently we feel that our wishes will be met.”

E.L and B.J

Painswick

“Thank you again for looking after us so beautiful as we arranged Dad’s funeral. We could not have been in better hands. We were able to put all our trust in you and you made it a remarkably special d…

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J.C

Avening

“Thank you again for looking after us so beautiful as we arranged Dad’s funeral. We could not have been in better hands. We were able to put all our trust in you and you made it a remarkably special day.”

J.C

Avening

“From the first few word we exchanged on the telephone, it was clear that Family Tree were the people to take care of everything. They dropped round a few minutes later, very quickly understood what I had in mind, and artfully made the…

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W.R

Stroud

“From the first few word we exchanged on the telephone, it was clear that Family Tree were the people to take care of everything. They dropped round a few minutes later, very quickly understood what I had in mind, and artfully made the necessary arrangements. Without their reassuring presence, sensitivity and professionalism, the celebration would not have been the magnificent occasion that it was.”

From his published tribute to B’s life “Then Shall You Truly Dance”

W.R

Stroud

“A rather belated note to say thank you for your help in arranging Mum’s funeral. You listened to all our requests, and responded sensitively and accurately; you helped us make decisions when we dithe…

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C.G

Kings Stanley

“A rather belated note to say thank you for your help in arranging Mum’s funeral. You listened to all our requests, and responded sensitively and accurately; you helped us make decisions when we dithered, and were very patient. On the day, your organization was well planned and unobtrusive. Your choice of other members for your team was great. It was a great funeral. Thank you.”

C.G

Kings Stanley

“My family and I would like to thank you and your company for the way that you handled the interment of my wife’s ashes on Monday last. It wasn’t a day that I had been looking forward to, but after …

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“My family and I would like to thank you and your company for the way that you handled the interment of my wife’s ashes on Monday last. It wasn’t a day that I had been looking forward to, but after I felt at ease that it had finally been done. K and I both agreed that your resume of E’s life and character was done with compassion and sympathy, although you hadn’t met her; also the reading of the poem was perfect, and seemed to reflect the spirit of the day. Our thanks again, and we hope to see you on perhaps a happier occasion.”

“It was a deeply emotional time, a time of healing through which you guided us in the most gentle and supportive way. We are most grateful”

I.C

“It was a deeply emotional time, a time of healing through which you guided us in the most gentle and supportive way. We are most grateful”

I.C

“We would never, ever have done it like this without you”

S.R

“We would never, ever have done it like this without you”

S.R

“Once again a big thank you from me and from all in the family, esp. the old man! It really worked for him! This morning he said “I wonder what the stuffy people thought of it!” with a mischievous c…

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L

“Once again a big thank you from me and from all in the family, esp. the old man! It really worked for him! This morning he said “I wonder what the stuffy people thought of it!” with a mischievous chuckle….giving it his approval….so we managed to bring the opposites together and all were honoured.”

L

“Our family cannot thank you enough for ensuring that we created a beautiful and fitting service yesterday. The flowers, which have travelled beautifully, were the most extraordinary collection ever…

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J.T

Stroud

“Our family cannot thank you enough for ensuring that we created a beautiful and fitting service yesterday. The flowers, which have travelled beautifully, were the most extraordinary collection ever, the coffin too, and the format was perfect. Like you, I have a very grim memory of my father’s funeral and know how badly these things can go, so we are all very grateful and ever in your debt. It is encouraging and wonderful to know that there is such care in the community.”

J.T

Stroud

We will work with you to design and arrange exactly the type of funeral
that you and your family feel is right
for the person who has died.

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