What to do when someone dies

Everything you need to know

It is perfectly normal to be unsure of what to do following the loss of a loved one, family member or close friend. That’s why we are here to support you through the process and guide you through the various steps that are involved following a bereavement.

If a Death Occurs at Home, in a care home or Nursing Home

When a death occurs at home or in a place of care, you or the Nursing Staff will need to contact the deceased’s local G.P. (or Doctors on Duty) who will then issue a medical certificate of Cause of Death (This would later have to be collected from the Doctors Surgery). The GP should inform the next-of-kin of the following steps needed. If the death has not be referred to the coroner, at this point, please contact us and we will come and collect your loved one and bring them back into our care. We are also always available for help 24/7 if you are unsure about the process.

If a Death Occurs at a Hospital

When a someone passes away at a Hospital, and the death is expected, most frequently a staff member from the Hospital Bereavement team will contact the next-of-kin. They will talk you through the steps involved in what you will have to do. They will also arrange for you to collect any personal belongings and a medical certificate of Cause of Death. The Hospital will care for your loved one until you arrange with us to bring them back into our care in Portishead. The Bereavement team will also guide you through the procedure of Registering the Death. If unsure at any point, please call us for guidance.

If a Death is referred to the Coroner

If a death occurs and it is unexpected, and the deceased has not visited their doctor in the last 14 days, the death will be referred to the Coroner, who might request an inquest or post-mortem. Under these circumstances you may have called 999, who would have immediately sent an ambulance and police. They will arrange for the deceased to be taken to the mortuary. The Coroner will later contact the next-of-kin with advice and regular updates, including when we can bring your loved one back into our care at Portishead. The Coroner’s work will usually take several days to complete. They should also advise you when to register the death.

Registering the Death

All Deaths in England and Wales need to be registered at the District Registry Office within 5 days of the death, unless a coroner is conducting an  investigation.  (Local Registries offices can be found below). You will need to contact the Registry Office to make an appointment and we advise you to do so as soon a possible. You will need to bring with you the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, which will be given to you by the local GP along with a few other documents (these are listed below). If the Death is referred to the coroner, they will advise you how and when to register.

Where to Register the Death

The death must be registered in the district where it occurred. The main registry offices that families go to are listed below, along with the telephone number and address.
If unsure or have a problem, contact us for guidance.

  • Weston Register Office
    Town Hall
    Walliscote Grove Road
    W-S-M, BS23 1UJ
    01823 282251
  • Clevedon Register Office
    Tickenham Road
    Clevedon, BS21 6FW
    01823 282251
  • Bristol Register Office
    Brunel Building
    Southmead Hospital
    Bristol, BS10 5NB
    0117 922 2800
  • Bristol Register Office
    The Old Council House
    Corn Street
    Bristol, BS1 1JG
    (Entrance is in Broad Street)
    0117 922 2800

Please note, opening hours vary from each Registry office, we can find out opening times for you

Who can Register the Death

The people who are legally allowed to register the death are:

  • A relative of the deceased, either related by blood, marriage or civil partnership.
  • A person present at the death.
  • The occupier of the premises where the death occurs if he/she/they were aware of the death.
  • The person dealing with the funeral arrangements.

You will need to provide proof of your name and address.

Documents you will need to bring to the Registrar

You must Bring:

  • A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death issued by the doctor or Hospital Bereavement Service.
  • The Deceased's passport or birth certificate, their medical card, marriage partnership certificate and disabled persons blue badge if applicable.

The Registry Office will need to know the following

  • Date and place of death
  • Full Name and Surname – also maiden surname
  • Occupation and if the deceased was married, the full name and occupation of their partner
  • Date and place of birth
  • Usual address
  • If the deceased was married or in a civil partnership, the date of birth of the widow or widower or the surviving civil partner

What Registry Office will give you

  • A death certificate: Certified Copies can be purchased from the Registrar; these may be required for other purposes.
  • A green form to enable you to make funeral arrangements. It gives authority for a burial or cremation to take place. If the death has been referred to a coroner other procedures may apply.  Please bring in the Green Certificate to us as soon as possible.
  • A form for social security purpose.

Things to do / people to tell

The government have a tell ‘us once service’, where you report a death, and they will notify multiple services. You can do this while your Register office. The list below is intended only as a guide.

  • Car Insurance (Documentation will have to be changed as you are not legally insured to drive if the policy is in the deceased’s name)
  • Bank, building society, regarding deposit account etc (Accounts need to be closed and any joint accounts need to be amended)
  • Return cards/ cheque books/ passports etc
  • Credit cards/ store cards (cancel cards and pay accounts)
  • Solicitor
  • Hospital appointments
  • Social services/District Nurse (Is there any equipment belonging to these, that must be returned)
  • Passport office
  • Driving license
  • Utilities (Gas, electric, water, telephone and cable companies)
  • Local Authority/council tax
  • Local DSS office/pension/benefit/future assistance

Types of Funerals

There are a many different types of funeral services that we can accommodate. Deciding on a funeral service will depend which one your loved one would prefer. The usual elements to consider when deciding are: Religions or non-religious beliefs, cultural traditions, your loved ones wishes or a funeral service tailored to their country of origin.

Religious Service

A religious service follows specific traditions which vary from religion to religion. Frequently, religious services depend on a person’s culture and beliefs. They may dictate whether the funeral is a cremation or burial as well as where your loved one will be laid to rest. The service is typically led by a religious celebrant such as a vicar, who may include specific hymns or prayers which reflect the life of your loved one. Another common request for some religions is for the deceased to be taken into a place of worship the evening before the funeral, this is not unusual. For further help, please contact us.

Non-Religious Service

A non-religious service has become more common in recent years. The service is more focussed on the celebration of a person’s life which is normally led by a celebrant. We use a number of local celebrants which our funeral director can recommend, to suit your family.

Woodland and Eco-Burials

A woodland and eco-burial is a more environmentally friendly burial. These specific burial grounds are set in a natural area such as a woodland, meadow or field. They provide a calming setting for your loved one to be laid to rest. Some of these burial ground don’t allow headstones instead plant a tree or place a wooden plaque to mark the grave. 

Burial at sea

A burial at sea does not take place regularly, but is something we have done before. There are strict regulations around this, so please contact us for more information. Another option to consider may be to have a regular funeral at a crematorium, and then later have the ashes scattered into water. We can do this for you.

Alternative funerals

We would like to note that all funerals are different and we can accommodate almost any request. If you would like to celebrate the life of a loved one in a unique way which is not detailed above, we are more than happy to assist you with this.  This can be from funerals at a special locations to alternative processions.

Direct Cremations

This is where there will be unattended funeral at a crematorium, meaning no mourners can attend. A direct cremation is a lower cost alternative to a traditional funeral. Despite this being a lower cost option, the same level of care applies in all areas. Unlike most funeral directors or direct cremation operators, we still use our local crematoriums and do not take deceased far away, as we believe this is in the best interest of your loved one and family.

We are also always available for help 24/7 if you are unsure about the process.

Contact Us