What to do when someone dies

When someone dies, it can be a very stressful time for the whole family friends and colleagues. Many questions come to mind – what do we need to do now? Who do we need to inform? What do we need to do next? Who do we need to contact? What documents do we need? Is there somebody we can phone to help us? What is a post-mortem? Below, we have tried to put together essential material to help you know what to do if a loved one has passed away.

You will need to get the death certificate.

If the patient died at home or in the community and it was an expected death then the GP should be able to issue a Death Certificate. Contact the practice and speak to the receptionist who should be able to give you some indication of when the certificate will be ready. If the death certificate is needed urgently then please speak to the receptionist and inform them so that the doctors can be alerted and ensure this is done in a timely fashion and there is no unnecessary delay. 

If the patient died in a hospital then you will need to speak to the nurse on the ward who should be able to provide you with relevant information on the procedures to be followed. Remember to collect your relative / friend’s belongings. You will need to write a letter if you have nominated another person to attend on your behalf to collect the belongings. This must be signed by the next of kin.

If the death is unexpected or the cause of death is not known or it was as a result of an accident or injury, an industrial disease, during a surgical operation or before recovery from an anaesthetic then your loved one will need to be transferred to the hospital mortuary and may need to be reported to the Coroner who may arrange a post-mortem examination. Your doctor should be able to advise you if you are unsure what to do. In such cases an interim certificate as to the fact of death will be issued direct to you but only in inquest cases from the Coroner’s Office and the relatives must then go to the Registrar’s office to register the death. The Coroner can be contacted on 0161 474 3993 for further details.

You will need to register the death next

The death must be registered within 5 days (unless the death has been reported to the Coroner). A relative of the deceased, or the person arranging the funeral (not the undertaker) can register the death. If there are no relatives the death may also be registered by the occupier of the building where the death occurred or the person accepting responsibility for making the funeral arrangements and paying for the funeral.

You will need to provide the following information about the deceased:

  • Full name, surname
  • Address
  • Date and Place of Birth (if known)
  • Occupation or last occupation if retired (if known)
  • Maiden surname, if applicable
  • If the person who has died was married, widowed or in a Civil Partnership the full names and occupation of the spouse / partner
  • Remember to bring the Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death Certificate. The coroner’s office will tell you what to do if the death has been referred to them.

The Register Office for Tameside
is located at:

The Register Office
Town Hall
King Street
SK16 4LA
0161 342 5032
Click here to send a secure message.

You will receive the following from the Registrar

  • Certificate of Burial or Cremation (usually green in colour and is required by the Funeral Director)
  • Social Security Certificate (Form BD8): this may need to be sent to the Social Security Office and is provided free of charge.
  • The Death Certificate: this is the copy of the entry in the Death Register. Each copy costs £3.50. After 3 months time, the charge is £7.00 instead. The Registrar will be able to help you to decide how many copies you may need.

If you decide to arrange a Cremation

The doctor for the Deceased will complete a Part A for the Cremation form. Another independent doctor has to complete the Part B of the Cremation form. As part of this process, the independent doctor may contact the next of kin to ask if they have any concerns about the death and any further information you may be able to provide to help them complete the form. This is routine practice and gives the next of kin the opportunity to raise any issues if they so wish with an independent doctor. 

Arranging a funeral

Here are a list of some local Funeral Directors

Dowse Catterall Funeral Service, 30 Ashworth St, Denton, M34 3LJ, 0161-336-6023
Frank Massey & Son, 49 Mottram Road, Hyde, SK14 2NN, 0161-3682565
Robinsons Funeral Service Ltd, 230 Market St, Hyde, SK14 1HB, 0161-3682441
S P Astley Independent Funeral Directors, 127 Hyde Road, Denton, M34 3BB, 0161-3203

Muslim Faith:
Oldham Muslim Funeral Services – Jarvis street, Jarvis House, Goldwick, Oldham, OL4 1DT 0161-6210200 Emergency: 07976-7424021

This is not an exhaustive list and Haughton Thornley Medical Centres does not provide any guarantees for the quality of the service provided. 

Contact your chosen Funeral Director when you are ready but do not make final arrangements until you are sure the death does not have to be referred to the Coroner.

Check if there is a Will which may contain details of the funeral arrangements.

If you arrange for a funeral, you are responsible for its payment. If you receive Income Support, Family Credit, Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit, you may be able to get help from the Social Fund (FS200).

If the death is referred to the Coroner

If the doctor is unable to certify the cause of death then the death is referred to the Coroner. The Coroner will then decide if a post-mortem is required or not. If the results are satisfactory then the Death Certificate can be issued taking into account the post-mortem findings by the doctors involved. You can then make an appointment to register the death at the Register Office. Sometimes an inquest has to be held but the Coroner can usually issue an interim certificate as to the fact of death so that burial or cremation can take place before the inquest.

Hospital Post-Mortem Examination

Sometimes the medical staff will seek your permission to carry out a post-mortem examination in order to improve their understanding of the disease and to help to improve the care delivered to other patients in the future. This should not delay funeral arrangements and the hospital will issue the Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death.

Organ Donation

Donating organs such as hearts, livers and kidneys can save people’s lives and transform other patients’ lives and that of their families. Tissues can also be donated up to 24 hours after death. Here are some great myth busters and find out more about what your religion has to say about donation

Other things to do

After a death it is necessary to return the following items belonging to the deceased with a covering note to the following authority as follows:

  • Benefit and Pension Books (Benefits agency)
  • Passport (Passport Office)
  • Driving License (DVLA)
  • Registration documents of car, to change ownership (DVLA)
  • Check if car insurance is still valid for you
  • National Insurance (local office)
  • NHS Equipment
  • Library tickets (local library) / Season tickets  

The following services may need to know about the death. (Some organisations may need to know the National Insurance number too)

  • Solicitor
  • Bank, Building Society, Insurance Company etc
  • Social Services
  • Inland Revenue & Benefits Offices
  • Employers and Trade Unions
  • Schools, College, University attended
  • Any hospital the person was attending
  • Local Gas / Electric / Telephone / TV License / Water companies
  • Local Council (eg Council Tax)
  • Professional Organisations

We hope you find this information we have provided useful. We would like to thank Central Manchester University Hospitals for providing some information which we have used as a basis of the information provided on this web page. If you have any further information that you would like to know about or have come across useful information that you think others should know about too then please send it in to [email protected]

Links to other useful websites