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What to do when someone dies

When someone dies it can be hard to know what to do and who to turn to.

Home » When Someone Dies
Choosing a funeral director

The death of a loved one is one of the most upsetting experiences we have to go through. So, when choosing a good funeral director, what should you be looking out for?

Choosing a Funeral Director

How to register a death

Before you can begin to plan a funeral for your loved one you will need to register the death at the Registrar’s Office. It’s important that this is carried out within 5 days of receiving the medical certificate. Here we will explain how to register a death in Essex.

Guide to registering a death

Probate & the will

When someone dies, you may be given the task of sorting out their property, money and other possessions, to be able to carry out this job you will need to apply for Probate. Before you begin this process you need to find out if there’s a Will as soon as you can, it may contain important instructions such as the deceased’s funeral wishes. The Will also names the executor and any beneficiaries.

Probate and Will Guide

Help with funeral costs

Bereavement is, without doubt, a devastating experience that can increase financial strain. If you’re in a position where you can’t afford to pay for a funeral, there are options available and you may be eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment from the Social Fund.

Help with Funeral Expenses

Who to notify

Having to deal with the affairs of the deceased immediately after their death can be complicated and upsetting, however, sorting out these issues is an essential task that we can guide you through. If you are worried about who to tell when someone has died, our simple checklist will act as a handy guide to help you through the process.

Who to Notify Checklist

Useful contacts

REGISTRAR’S

Essex Registrar
Tel: 0345 603 7632
Find your nearest registration office when registering a death

Coroner
Essex Coroners Office

Chelmsford: 0333 013 5000
Email: coroner@essex.gov.uk
Essex & Thurrock: 01245 506837
Southend: 01245 506806

See Other Useful Contacts

Funeral price options

We are pleased to offer a number of price options, which include Unattended Cremation, Simple Cremation, and the Traditional Funeral package.

See Our Price Options

Here is a simple step-by-step guide

There are a number of things to consider depending on how your loved one passed and whether the death was expected or unexpected. If they died during the day or at night, there are different steps to take.

When someone dies at home

Daytime: If your loved one died during the day, and the death was anticipated, for example, from a terminal illness, you will need to contact their GP or the NHS helpline (dial 111) as soon as possible

Night-time: If your loved one passed away at night, you should still call the NHS helpline (dial 111) and they will advise you on what to do next. You can wait until the morning before contacting their GP.

Once the death has been confirmed by the medical practitioner you should contact a funeral director as soon as possible to arrange for them to take your loved one into their care.

In both instances, if you are not the next of kin or a close relative, you should ensure that they are notified immediately.

If the cause of death is known, the doctor will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, allowing you to register the death.

Unexpected death at home

If someone appears to have died unexpectedly, please call the Police and Ambulance services immediately by dialing 999. The operator will provide instructions on what you need to do including establishing whether you can try to resuscitate the person. The paramedics, upon arrival, will either attempt resuscitation or confirm the death.

If the cause of death is unknown, it is important that you leave the area untouched (apart from any attempt at resuscitation). The Police will arrange for a funeral director to collect the deceased and take the body into the care of the hospital acting on behalf of the local HM Coroner’s department.

If a medical professional is unsure about the actual cause of death, even if it was clearly from natural causes, or if the deceased died suddenly or unnaturally, they would contact the HM Coroner’s office. The Coroner’s Officer may order a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death and then issue the documents allowing the funeral to take place. It is important to note that a funeral cannot be conducted until the HM Coroner’s office has completed their investigations and cause of death established.

Has someone passed away at home?

Bennetts Funeral Directors will be able to arrange for your loved one to be collected and brought into their care at the soonest available time so long as a medical practitioner has confirmed the death.

When someone dies in hospital

If a loved one has unfortunately passed away in hospital, the next of kin or closest family members will be informed immediately. Many hospitals throughout the UK have staff specialising in bereavement matters who are able to explain procedures and next steps to you. Otherwise, this may be done by the ward staff.

Will the hospital issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death?

A doctor at the hospital will usually issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death if the cause of death is known. If the cause of death is unknown or not yet confirmed the HM Coroner’s office may become involved.

If the doctor is unsure about the actual cause of death, even if it was clearly from natural causes, or if the deceased died suddenly or unnaturally, they will contact HM Coroner’s Office.  The Coroner’s Officer may order a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death and then issue the documents allowing the funeral to take place. It is important to note that a funeral cannot be conducted until the HM Coroner’s office has completed their investigations and cause of death established.

If the deceased is to be cremated, please let the doctor know or bereavement office know as additional forms need to be completed.

Where is my loved one kept if they die in hospital?

If a loved one has died in hospital, they will be taken to the hospital mortuary until the next of kin can arrange for a chosen funeral director to collect them.

If your loved one is being collected by a funeral director, they will liaise with the hospital directly to ensure safe transport of the deceased into their own chapel of rest facilities, keeping you fully informed each step of the way. You may need to sign an authorisation form to enable the funeral director to take the deceased into their care from the hospital.

What happens to my loved one’s possessions if they die in hospital?

Your loved one’s possessions will be kept safe by hospital staff until the person administering the estate arranges for them to be collected. The hospital staff will issue a receipt when the possessions are collected.

Has someone passed away in hospital?

Bennetts Funeral Directors will be able to arrange for your loved one to be collected and brought into our care at the soonest available time

What to do when someone dies in a care home or hospice.

If your loved one passes away while being cared for in a care home, the staff will know what to do and the processes that must be followed. They are there to help and will be able to advise you on the next steps.

What happens immediately after their death? 

If you are not present when your loved one passes away, care home staff will notify you as soon as possible after their death. You may request to see your loved one.

If the death was expected

The death will need to be verified by a medical practitioner and the GP notified so that they can issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.  Care home staff will often do this on your behalf.

If the death is unexpected

If a medical professional is unsure about the actual cause of death, even if it was clearly from natural causes, or if the deceased died suddenly or unnaturally, they would contact the HM Coroner’s office via the Police. The Coroner’s Officer may order a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death and then issue the documents allowing the funeral to take place. It is important to note that a funeral cannot be conducted until the HM Coroner’s office has completed their investigations and cause of death established.

Care home staff will often help you to notify us and liaise with them on your behalf. We will collect your loved one and transfer them safely to our own care facilities, keeping you fully informed each step of the way.

What happens to my loved one’s body if they die in a care home?

Care home staff are trained to ensure that your loved one is properly looked after. Care home staff will usually be happy for you to spend time with your loved one after their death. For some, this can be a time to sit peacefully, say goodbye, or share memories. For others, there may be important cultural or religious customs that should take place.

Has someone passed away in a care home?

Bennetts Funeral Directors will be able to arrange for your loved one to be collected and brought into their care at the soonest available time.

What to do when someone dies abroad

It can be a challenging and emotional time when someone passes away, but it may seem even more distressing if they die abroad.

This guide will advise you on what to do when someone dies abroad; whether you’re at home and you find out that your loved one has died overseas, or if you’re abroad with them when they pass away.

If you’re abroad together

If you’re travelling or holidaying abroad with someone and they pass away, the first steps you need to take are:

• Contact the nearest British embassy (or High Commission/Consulate)
• If you’re on an organised tour, let the organisers know what’s happened
• If you’re staying in a resort, let a representative know

Most holiday resorts and organisations have welfare representatives who can help you during this emotional time. You can also contact family at home and speak with them if you’re at a loss of what to do.
If you’re travelling abroad and staying at accommodation that isn’t booked through a travel company, you may want to contact your family first. Then let the local police know, as they’ll be able to help you get in touch with the nearest British embassy.

If they’re abroad and you’re not

If a loved one dies abroad while you’re at home in the UK, the British consulate is legally obligated to contact the next-of-kin. You may find out from the embassy itself, or the police force may be instructed to tell you.

If you find out through a package holiday representative or tour operator, for example, it’s important to contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They’ll keep you up to date with what’s happening and can help you decide arrangements.

Finding out about a loved one’s death when you’re not with them is a confusing, difficult situation. There are steps you must take when this happens but remember you can always ask family or close friends to help you.

Registering a death abroad

You must register your loved one’s death in the country where they died.
If you’re unsure about how to do this, your nearest British embassy will be able to help you. It’s important to note that you must also register the death with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. The British embassy can help you get hold of this information.

Learn more about registering a death abroad.

How to bring the body home
Bringing a body home from abroad can be a straightforward process. To bring your loved one home, follow these steps:
1. Obtain an English translation of the Death Certificate
2. Get permission to bring the body home – this is usually granted by a coroner or equivalent in the country where your loved one passed away. A local funeral director will help with this.
3. Contact your funeral director in the UK who will advise and liaise with the funeral director in the country where your loved one died. The local funeral director will also liaise with HM Coroners and Registrars on your behalf once your loved one’s body has returned home.

How to bring cremated remains home after an overseas funeral

If your loved one was cremated abroad, but you want to bring their ashes home, you’ll need two documents:

  1. Death certificate
  2. Certificate of Cremation

This process will depend on the country’s regulations, some differ considerably so please ask your funeral director for assistance.

How to bring a body back from abroad for a UK funeral

If a loved one dies abroad, most families will go through the process of bringing the body or ashes home for a funeral in the UK. This process is known as body repatriation.

Repatriation simply means returning the deceased to their country of origin. There are instances where people prefer a burial abroad in their native country, which would mean repatriating the remains from the UK. Bennetts Funeral Directors will be able to explain more about taking a body abroad for burial if this is something you wish to consider.  Be warned this can be a costly process, especially if there is no insurance

Once you have all the relevant documentation and permissions granted, you’ll be able to repatriate your loved one’s body back home. Whether you’re repatriating a body to or from the UK, our full repatriation service will help address your requirements and provide guidance.

If you need immediate assistance Bennetts Funeral Directors can help.

Call 01277 210104 and 01277 627492  we are here to help.