When someone you love dies, your own life can go into a tailspin. It can be hard enough remembering to take care of yourself, let alone making funeral arrangements and sorting legal affairs.
To help you at this difficult time, we have put together a useful guide of what to do when someone dies in hospital. It should provide guidance about what steps you need to take and where to obtain necessary information.
Of course, if you would prefer to speak with Harbour directly, our compassionate team would be more than happy to offer expert advice. You can call us on 0800 133 7961, or send an email to [email protected].
1. What happens when someone dies in hospital?
When someone passes away in hospital, the staff there will immediately contact the next of kin. They will also lay out the body and take them to the hospital’s own mortuary until funeral arrangements can be made.
Harbour will collect your loved one from any hospital or mortuary in England or Wales and bring them to our regional crematorium as part of our low-cost £895 service. We guarantee that this is the cheapest direct cremation service in England and Wales.
2. Obtaining a medical certificate
A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death for the person who has died is free to obtain and should be automatically created by the hospital staff. It is also necessary for arranging a direct cremation or funeral.
If your loved one has died in a hospital, a doctor involved in their care will complete the medical certificate. Staff at the hospital will either send it to the local registry office, or they may give it directly to you.
Although the medical certificate is an essential piece of documentation, you can contact Harbour to begin arranging a direct cremation before it has been completed.
In some cases, where the cause of death or the circumstances are uncertain, hospital medical staff will need to perform a post-mortem examination or refer the death to a coroner. The coroner may have to authorise a post-mortem examination or inquest to determine the cause of death. Only once this is complete can they issue the documents allowing the death to be registered.
3. Registering the death
This step must take place within five days of the death if it occurs anywhere in the United Kingdom with the exception of Scotland. In Scotland, all deaths must be registered within eight days.
Registering a death is a simple and free procedure that can be completed online. You will, however, need to pay for any additional copies of the death certificate you may need. Death certificates cost £11 in England and Wales, £12 in Scotland, and £15 in Northern Ireland.
A relative of the person who died should be the one to register the death. But, this is not always possible. In such cases, either a witness of the person’s death, an administrator from the hospital where the person died or the person in charge of making the funeral arrangements can register the death instead.
First, you must locate the nearest register office to the hospital where the person died. This is a straightforward task using the government’s Find a register office tool, available here.
Next you need to register the death which can be done over the phone. This will require the medical certificate. It may also be useful to have the birth certificate, NHS medical card or number, marriage or civil partnership certificate, driving licence and proof of the person’s address.
Once you have registered the death, you will receive a death certificate. The death certificate is an important document, necessary for legal procedures such as sorting bank accounts, mortgages and wills. It is not however needed for the funeral or cremation.
You should also receive a Certificate for Burial or Cremation, also referred to as a green form, from the registrar. Your funeral director will need this document for the funeral or cremation to go ahead.
Depending on the registrar, they may send the green form directly to your funeral service provider if you give them their contact information. If you choose a direct cremation with Harbour, our email address is [email protected] and our phone number is 0800 133 7961.
4. Notify the government of the death
You must also contact various governmental organisations about the death. Fortunately, most of them are covered by the Tell Us Once service which enables you to inform various departments, including the Passport Office, HMRC and the DVLA in one go.
You can access the Tell Us Once service here.
5. Arranging the funeral
This step depends on any funeral plans or instructions your loved one may have left. They may have told friends and family verbally what kind of funeral they would like; alternatively they may have left written instructions in their will, with their solicitor or amongst their paperwork.
One in fourteen people now opt for a direct cremation. If your friend or family member decided this was the best option for them, why not choose Harbour? We offer professional, dignified and hassle-free direct cremations that are guaranteed to be cheaper than any other service in England or Wales.