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What should I do when someone dies?

When a friend or family member with Parkinson's dies, it's natural to have questions including how to register a death and who to inform.

If the death is expected and at home, you will need to contact the deceased’s GP or nearest doctor as soon as possible. You cannot register a death without a death certificate signed by a GP.

The person may have registered to be a brain donor. If so, you should contact the Parkinson’s UK Brain Bank on the 24-hour emergency contact number as soon as possible after death.

They may also be registered to donate other organs to the NHS. If this is the case then the NHS will have record of their organ donation registration and will proceed to carry out this request.

How to register a death

England and Wales

A death in England and Wales must be registered with the Registrar of Births and Deaths. You can go to any register office in the country, but if you use the one in the area where the person died then you will be given the documents that you need on that day.

The registration must take place within 5 days. A death that takes place in England can only be registered in English but deaths in Wales may be registered bilingually in English and Welsh.

The government's website has a page on how to register a death.

Tell Us Once is a service that informs other government departments about a death on your behalf. Speak to the Registrar when you register the death and see if this service is available in your area.

Northern Ireland

You must register a death within 5 days with any District Registration Office in Northern Ireland.

Address details for District Registrars can be found online or in the telephone directory under ‘Registration of births, deaths and marriages’.

Scotland

You must register a death in Scotland within 8 days by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The law allows a death to be registered in any registration district in Scotland.

The Registrar will need a death certificate, which will be given to you by the doctor. You will need 2 doctor’s certificates for a cremation, or one for a burial.

You will also need an extract of the death certificate to show to banks, and so on. This is supplied by the Registrar for a small charge.

You can find the address of your local Registrar via the undertaker, hospital, doctor, or the Directory of Registrars in Scotland.

Who else do I need to inform?

There are several people and organisations to inform when someone dies, including:

  • banks and building societies
  • creditors (a person or company that money is owed to)
  • GP
  • solicitor
  • employer
  • house, car and contents insurers

If the person who has died received a state pension and benefits, contact the Department for Work and Pensions Bereavement Service on 0345 606 0265 (Northern Ireland 0800 085 2463).

They will tell each service and cancel all claims, tell you if you can claim any money towards funeral and bereavement benefits and help you apply over the phone. They will also tell you if you can use your late spouse or civil partner’s National Insurance contributions to increase your own state pension.

You may also need to ensure that official documents are returned such as:

  • passport
  • driving licence
  • season tickets or club membership cards
  • National Insurance papers
  • library books

How do I arrange a funeral?

You may have already discussed the type of funeral arrangements wanted. There may also be instructions in the person’s Will, so it is important to check this.

Your funeral director will support and guide you through this process. The person who has died may have taken out a pre-paid funeral plan.

If so, check what services it covers. If there is no plan, check with the undertaker about arrangements for payment of the funeral account.

You may also be entitled to help with funeral payments from the Department for Work and Pensions, depending on the financial status of the person arranging the funeral (not of the person who’s died).

Contact your local Social Security Office for questions about financial help. Your undertaker may also be able to help with social security forms.

Useful Contacts for when someone dies

Age UK

Age UK can provide lots of support. Their information sheets When someone dies and Dealing with an estate are aimed at next-of-kin and executors.

The Bereavement Register

The Bereavement Register is a free service which can help reduce unwanted mail after someone has died.

National Association of Funeral Directors

National Association of Funeral Directors Can provide advice on organising funerals and monitors the standards of funeral directors.

Natural Death Centre

Natural Death Centre Provides information on 'alternative' funerals, including family-organised, environmentally friendly funerals.