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Arranging a funeral

Although it can be a very daunting and stressful time when a loved one passes away, we are here to guide you step-by-step through what needs to be done in the days and weeks after death.

There are 3 things you must do in the first few days after someone dies.

  1. Get a medical certificate from a GP or hospital doctor. You’ll need this to register the death.
  2. Register the death within 5 days (8 days in Scotland). You’ll then get the documents you need for the funeral.
  3. Arrange the funeral.

Getting the medical certificate

Before a death can be formally registered, a doctor will need to issue a medical certificate giving the cause of death. In hospital, this is usually done by a hospital doctor, who will hand the certificate to you in a sealed envelope addressed to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. You will also be given a notice, explaining how to register the death. There is no charge for either of these. If the person has not been seen by a hospital doctor, their GP may be able to issue a certificate instead.

Register the death

If the death has been reported to a coroner (Procurator Fiscal in Scotland) you can’t register the death until the coroner gives permission.

Otherwise you can register the death at a local Registry Office, or online with

You must take with you a copy of the MCCD (Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, available from your loved one's GP), and if possible, some form of ID for your loved one.

When you see the registrar, they will be as helpful as they can in registering the death. They will require the following information about the deceased:

  • Date and place of the death
  • The address of the person
  • Their full names (including the maiden name of a married woman). Any former married names or other names by which the deceased was known can also be recorded.
  • Where and when they were born (the town or county is sufficient if the exact address is not known). Only the country of origin is required for people born outside the United Kingdom. The country is recorded according to its current name if this is different from how it was known at the date of birth.
  • Their occupation
  • Details of their wife or husband or civil partner
  • Whether they had any government pension or other benefits

Arrange the funeral

Funeral costs can include:

  • funeral director fees
  • things the funeral director pays for on your behalf (called ‘disbursements’ or ‘third-party costs’), for example crematorium or cemetery fees, celebrants or clergy fees, or a newspaper announcement about the death
  • local authority burial or cremation fees
  • Funeral directors may list all these costs in their quote.

Paying for a funeral

The funeral can be paid for:

  • from a financial scheme the person had, for example a pre-paid funeral plan or insurance policy
  • by you, or other family members or friends
  • with money from the person’s estate (savings, for example) - getting access to this is called applying for a ‘grant of representation’ (sometimes called ‘applying for probate’)
  • Via a grant from the DWP Family Funeral Fund should a family member be on a qualifying benefit

We will be here to help you through this process, and to deal with as much of the paperwork as you would like us to, in order to help you and your family at such a difficult time.

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