What to do when someone dies

As difficult as it may be, there certain arrangements that must be made when a death occurs in your family.  Naturally, this is a time of sadness and high emotion, factors not necessarily conducive to taking the measures required.  As part of our role, the team at P.G. Oxley Ltd are here to offer support and advice at any time you should need us.

Immediate things to do

Should the death have taken place at home then there are a number of people to contact:
a) The family doctor
b) The next-of-kin or nearest relative
c) The Funeral Director

If the death takes place in a hospital or nursing home then the staff there will take care of any immediate arrangements and also notify the doctor for you.


What happens next?

If there is a clear cause of death your doctor will issue a medical certificate and a formal notice.
(i)    Medical Certificate: This is the official notice of the cause of death. It is sealed and in an envelope addressed to the Registrar of Births and Deaths and you will need to have this in order to register the death.
(ii)    Formal Notice: This document confirms the doctor has signed the medical certificate. It will also give you necessary information on how to register the death.

Should the cause or circumstance of the death be at all unclear it will probably be reported to the Coroner. The Coroner may need to arrange for a post-mortem examination to take place at a local hospital.  If this should happen advice can be obtained about what has to be done from the P.G. Oxley Ltd team who will be available to offer advice and support.  This process can lead to a delay in confirming final funeral arrangements.


How to register the death

As long as there has been no issue establishing the cause and circumstances of the death, the registration process should be undertaken as soon as you are able (and within 5 working days) after the date of the death.  Wherever the death occurs, whether at home or in hospital – it must be registered, most commonly with the Registrar of Births and Deaths for that area.  Alternatively, if more convenient the death can be registered at any Essex Registrar's office, or through a 'Declaration Process'  it may be registered anywhere in the country.

A list of Essex Registrar's offices and the ability to book an appointment online are available by clicking here.

The name and address of the Registrar will be on the envelope containing the medical certificate and often require an appointment to be made.  Locally the Registrar holds sessions at Clacton Library and Colchester Library. 

The Registrar will require the following information about the deceased person:
(i)        date and place of birth
(ii)       maiden name if a married woman
(iii)      date and place of death
(iv)      former occupation

They will also ask for the medical certificate (mentioned earlier) and to see the deceased’s medical card. Do not worry if you cannot find these, just explain the situation to the Registrar. Upon completion of the registration process, the Registrar will give you a green certificate which should be handed to the Funeral Director.


Help for you

Our personal care and attention extends beyond the arrangements and the day of the funeral itself and if there are any concerns or worries you have, please talk to us and we can put you in contact with people who are willing and able to offer practical help, understanding, sympathetic counsel and comfort.


Useful Links

The Role of the Coroners
Help with Funeral Costs
The Bereavement Register

Find details of local Register Offices on our Useful Links page