What families need to do when someone dies

This information is sourced from GOV.UK 

The death of a loved one is a very difficult  time, and this guidance outlines the steps to take:

Immediately after a death
  • the death needs to be confirmed or 'verified' by a trained health professional, whether this has occured in a hospital, care home, hospice or at home
  • if an expected death takes place at home in the day, a trained health professional can be called to 'verify' that death has indeed taken place. Overnight it may be 111, or a nursing team who have been trained to 'verify'
  • a funeral director can then be called to collect the body, but there is no rush. Many people find it a comfort, especially at home, to stay with their loved one for some time before the body is collected, but it is usual for the body to be collected within 24 hours
  • the death then needs to be legally registered within 5 days (unless the death has been reported to the Coroner) - appointments with your Borough Register Office can be made by phone or online
  • the doctor (who has seen the patient within the last 28 days) will have emailed the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD) to the Medical Examiner or the Registrar before your face to face appointment
  • The Medical Examiner is a new step in this process - a team of doctors who consider the cause of death suggested by the care team and who will talk to you about this and get your feedback. It shouldn't delay the registration process
  • You will need certain information for your appointment with the Registrar
  • At the face to face appointment, the Registrar will give you the formal Death Certificate (plus extra copies if you wish) and the 'green form' (Certificate for Burial or Cremation) which allows the funeral director  to proceed with plans for cremation or burial
A death is reported to the Coroner
  • If the main cause of death is unclear
  • If the patient hasn't seen a doctor for more than 28 days
  • If the death is thought to be unnatural - accident, trauma or suicide
  • if the death is due to a recognised industrial cause eg asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma
Financial support
  • Help with funeral costs if you receive certain benefits
  • Bereavement support payment if your husband, wife or civil partner has died under State Pension age - this is significant and people are often unaware of this benefit



What to do when someone dies: step by step

Published 28th November 2022


Related Services

Find a register office

There is a legal requirement that a death be registered within five working days. It is important to let the Register Office know if the funeral is to be held within 24 hours. The person registering the death must be able to provide some basic details of the person who has died. Please take the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death to the Register Office. It is also helpful to take the person’s birth and marriage certificates, passport or NHS Medical Card, although they are not essential.

Use the web link above to find your local register office by entering your postcode.

Hillingdon Community Palliative Care Team

Hillingdon Palliative Care Team (hosted by NHS CNWL) provides specialist advice and visiting to palliative care patients living in Hillingdon. Each GP practice has their own named Clinical Nurse Specialist ( CNS ). A Triage CNS manages calls and referrals each day and they have the option to escalate to consultants if needed.

They can be contacted Monday to Friday 8.00am to 4.30pm excluding bank holidays.

Out of hours phone Michael Sobell Hospice 24 hour Advice Line on 020 3824 1268

Referral form for clinician use only.

Community Specialist Palliative Care Referral Form V3 (PDF)
Meadow House Hospice

Meadow House Hospice provides inpatient palliative care services to the residents of Ealing.

Please contact the hospice Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm and during the weekend 9.00am to 5.00pm on 0208 242 5817.

There is a 24 hour telephone support line to the hospice ward on 0208 967 5597.

Bereavement services to support family members, friends and carers connected to a loved one who was cared for by the Hospice, can be contacted via main switchboard.  

Referral form for clinician use only.

Community Specialist Palliative Care Referral Form V3 (PDF)