What To Do When Someone Dies

When someone close to you dies there’s a lot to deal with – not only your emotions, but also the practicalities entailed in a death.

Read our advice on what to do when the inevitable happens – and who to get in touch with.

woman at a funeral putting her hand on coffin

What do I do when someone dies?

When someone dies not everyone knows what you are supposed to do.

When you’re dealing with the grief of losing someone, you may not be aware of the things you need to do - but you’re not alone and there is plenty of advice and support to help you at this difficult time.

First things first

Like most things in life, the death of a loved one requires you to fill in lots of forms and documentation about them. Before you start, make sure you’ve got all the relevant information to hand – it will make things much easier: -

  • National Insurance number
  • NHS number
  • Date and place of birth
  • Date of marriage or civil partnership (if applicable)
  • Tax reference number
  • Organ donor card (if registered)
  • Proof of address
  • Driving Licence
  • Passport
  • Full name, date of birth and occupation of surviving spouse (if they were married).

In the first five days

  • Obtain a medical certificate straight away (unless there is a coroner’s inquest). If the person has died in hospital, the hospital will give this to you. If the person has died at home, you should call the person’s GP.
  • Register the death at the relevant Registrar’s office - unless the death has been referred to the coroner. To register the death you will need the following: medical certificate, full name, date and place of birth, last address, occupation, full name, date of birth and occupation of surviving spouse (if they were married).
  • If available, you should also take birth certificate, marriage or civil partnership certificate, National Insurance number, NHS medical card, driving license, passport.
  • Find the Will.
  • Begin funeral arrangements, you may need to check the Will for any special wishes.
  • If relevant, send a completed ‘Certificate for Department of Work & Pensions benefits (BD8 form Registration or Notification of Death in England & Form 3344SI in Scotland, form 36/BD8 in N.Ireland)’  to the local jobs and benefit office.
  • If the person who has died was a Blue Badge holder, return their badge to their Local Authority.
  • If the deceased had a Life Insurance policy, find it and follow the instructions on the policy.

Who should I call when someone dies?

As well as letting people close to the deceased know, you’ll need to inform the organisations and services they may have dealt with.  It is likely that you’ll have to close down accounts, or cancel or change insurance details, subscriptions, agreements, payments or direct debits. Here's a list that may help:

  • Relatives and friends
  • The Trust
  • Employer
  • Solicitor
  • Accountant
  • Bank or Building Society
  • Mortgage provider or landlord (if renting)
  • Passport Office (to cancel their passport)
  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for their taxes
  • Driving and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
  • Health organisations such as  GP, Dentist, Opticians
  • The Tell Us Once Service from GOV.UK - Tell Us Once is a service is offered by most local authorities on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). The service allows you to inform central and local government services of the death at one time rather than having to write, telephone or even attend each service individually. The Tell Us Once service is free to use and can save you a great deal of time and effort.

What if there is a will?

If you are not the Executor of the will, find out who is and contact them.

The Executor is the person nominated in the will to sort out the deceased's affairs. They can then start the process of applying for probate.

What if there is no will?

If there is no will, decide who will apply to sort out the deceased's affairs.

Then contact the Probate Registry to apply for 'letters of administration' (letters of administration are granted by the court, allowing someone to manage a deceased person’s affairs if there is no will, or an Executor has not been appointed).

Further information

The following website page can also provide help with what to do when someone dies:

GOV.UK - After A Death

NIDirect - What To Do When Someone Dies Checklist

Coping with grief and loss

In addition to the practicalities of dealing with death, there is also the emotional side of coping with the loss of someone you love.

Click the link below and visit our page on how to cope with grief and loss

Coping with grief and loss

man comforting grieving friend

Support for dealing with grief