What To Do After Death

What you need to do following the death of a loved-one

At this very difficult time people may experience additional concerns when a loved one dies. To keep people safe the normal processes have had to be changed and we hope the information below will help you over the coming days and weeks.

If a loved one has died in hospital, in a hospice or care home the Doctor who has verified the death will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD). This will be sent directly to the local Registrar for you, the Registrar will be in the borough where the person died.

If a loved one has died at home
If your loved one has died at home during the night, and it was an expected death, where possible please wait until the morning and notify your GP who will be able to come to you and verify the death. If your District Nurse, or other health care professional has been involved in the care of the person who has died they will also be able to do the verification and then notify the GP. Alternatively please ring 111 who will arrange verification for you. Please be sure to advise that this was an expected death. the person who has verified the death will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD). This will be sent directly to the local Registrar for you, the Registrar will be in the borough where the person died.


Registering a death

When the Doctor contacts the Registrar he/she will also give them the contact details of the next of kin.  The Registrar will contact the next of kin within 5 days to process the Death Certificate which they will then send to the Funeral Director of your choice.  We do advise you choose your Funeral Director prior to registering the death, so when the Registrar rings you, you have the details at hand to give to them.

  • full name and surname of the deceased
  • date and place of death and usual address
  • marital status (single, married, widowed or divorced)
  • date and place of birth
  • occupation of the deceased (if the deceased was a wife or widow, the full names and occupation of her husband or deceased husband will be required)
  • if the deceased was a child, the full names and occupation of the father will be required, or where the parents are not married the full names and occupation of the mother will be required
  • maiden surname if the deceased was a woman who was married
  • the name and address of the deceased's GP
  • details of any pension apart from a state pension that the deceased may have held

Preparing for the funeral
The nominated Funeral Director will collect your loved one from the place where they have died and take them into their care, they will then contact you to arrange the funeral. During this pandemic funerals sadly will be very different. You may experience:

• Restricting attendance to 'close family members' only, possibly no more than 10 people
• No gatherings after the ceremony are permitted, including the family home.
• Wider guidelines around vulnerable groups, isolation, social distancing etc continue to apply.
• Additionally, individual crematoriums may have their own guidance e.g. no touching the coffin or venue door handles. Some may provide online broadcasting so mourners can watch the service without attending in person


If your loved one has died from COVID-19 the Government’s advice is for anyone who has had contact with your loved one will need to self-isolate for 14 days from their last time of contact, and anyone who is showing signs of COVID-19 should not attend. We know that this will be difficult and distressing for you and your family and friends, but these measures are needed to protect those who are attending the funeral service, the funeral directors and the staff at the crematorium or cemetery.


Funeral costs

When you arrange a funeral you will be responsible for the costs. We recommend speaking to your Funeral Director about how much you have to spend and what services are possible. They are very helpful.


The person who died might already have a funeral plan, this information may be in the will, be known by close friends or relatives or with local Funeral Directors.

Help with cost
If you receive certain benefits, you may be entitled to help with funeral costs if you receive certain social security benefits. Your Funeral Director will assist with this.

If you are in financial need
Down to Earth guides people in financial need to plan affordable and meaningful funerals with information on how to plan a funeral, support on making funerals affordable and accessing financial support to help with funeral costs, send an email or phone 0208 983 5055. You can also visit Down to Earth's website for Information and Advice about Funerals during the COVID-19 crisis. You can call Down to Earth on 0208 983 5055.

Suggestions for a funeral during this pandemic

The following ideas may help you when arranging the funeral, especially for those who are unable to attend.

  • Music of remembering - if there is music to be played at the funeral, share the song title with those who cannot attend so they can play it at the time of the service. If there is not the opportunity to have music then ask people to choose a piece of music that reminds them of that special person.
  • Threads of love - using ribbon to write a short message with their name. You can ask the funeral director to tie these on to the coffin.
  • Stones of love - ask people to find a small stone they can write the name of their special person on one side, and their own on the other. These again can be taken with the coffin or left at the cemetery.
  • Chains of memories - using paper chains ask people to write a message on them. These can be joined together and placed on the coffin.
  • Special time - if there is an order of service, ask your funeral director to post it on line with the time of the service. This will allow those unable to attend the space to be there in mind and spirit. You may ask all those who cannot attend to perhaps raise a glass at a specific time.
  • Special place - create a special online space for people to share special memories at the time of the service. Make a small video clip of memories that people can click into at the time of the service, sharing memories of this special person.
  • Time together  due to restrictions people cannot gather, but you could set up Zoom, or another way to share with those not able to attend after the service.

You must speak with your funeral director regarding infection control measures. You may be required to seal anything you wish to be included, i.e. ribbons, stones or paper, and date the bag when it was sealed. Your funeral director will advise you on this requirement.


When someone in the UK dies, information about what needs to happen next can also be found at on this site.


Funeral advice for different faith groups



The British Board of Scholars and Imams advice includes:                                                      

  • Cremation must be avoided at all costs.              
  • There are several options for ritual cleansing from: full ghusl, minimal ghusl, tayammum, wiping over the body bag. Each should be considered in sequence, but if none can be done, burial without ghusl is permissible.
  • The body bag may be considered to fulfil the role of the burial shroud (kafan). Guidance For Burial & Funerals During The Corona Pandemic (BBSIG-03) 2
  • Funeral (janaza) prayers should be performed by a minimum of people; alternatives include the absentee funeral prayer (salat al-gha'ib).                                         
  • A number of options for burial can be considered, including shared graves, transferal to other sites, and delay in burial.
  • For the full advice visit this site.                                             


Liberal Judaism and Reform Judaism

  • Physical attendance at all funerals restricted to solely the rabbi or cantor.
  • No family members will be able to attend in person. Currently exploring possibility to join the service digitally
  • Full info can be found on this site.

Misaskim, and Orthodox

  • Attendance at funerals is prohibited, other than immediate family.
  • Families must observe Shiva in private. 
  • Full info can be found on this site.


  • Gurdwaras are still allowed to conduct funerals. However, some Gurdwaras have now decided not to allow the casket to come to the Gurdwara before going to the crematorium.
  • Only immediate family should attend a funeral at the crematorium, limited to no more than 2 people. It should only be people who have not been in physical contact with the deceased for at least 14 days.
  • As an absolute minimum, Kirtan Sohila and Ardas should be recited before committal. If a Granthi is unavailable to do this, any family member is able to carry this out.
  • Sehaj Paths should be delayed for the foreseeable future.
  • Full info can be found on this site.

Church of England

  • Same as for ‘general’
  • They also encourage people who can’t get to funerals to light virtual candles.

Roman Catholic

  • Same as for ‘general’
  • Arrangements should be made for a Mass to be celebrated in memoriam when congregations are allowed to gather.
  • Full info can be found on this site.


  • Unable to find any statement from the Hindu community as present
  • Potential link to future info on this site.                    


  • We have been unable to find a statement from any Buddhist organisation at present 
  • Potential link to future info on this site.                                                  

Personal belongings

Sorting your loved one's affairs

When someone dies, it can feel like there is a lot of things to deal with on top of the grief you may be feeling. We have set out the steps you need to take when your loved one has come to the end of their life. There is lots of support available if you are dealing with a bereavement.


In the first few days and weeks after your loved one has died, you will have registered the death and organised a funeral. 

Tell the government and your utility companies


The Tell Us Once service allows you to inform all the relevant government departments when someone dies. When you register the death please talk to the Registrar about the Tell Us Once service.


You need to tell banks, utility companies and landlords when someone has died as well. You may need to remember to speak to your loved one's:

  • Banks and building societies
  • Gas and electricity suppliers
  • Mobile and landline phone providers
  • Broadband providers
  • Car insurance and finance providers
  • Subscriptions and recurring payments including TV and streaming services, magazines and newspapers
  • Parking, congestion and Dartford crossing charges

Check if you can get bereavement benefits.

You might be eligible for financial help.Check if you can get:


Register changes of circumstances


Deal with your loved one's estate


You might have to deal with the will, money and property of the person who's died if you're a close friend or relative, or the executor of the will.


Caring for pets


Whether you think of your pets simply as your loving companions, or as your (admittedly, very furry) children pet lovers will want what it best for them.  This will include making arrangements for them if we die before they do.  Delivering the Last Years of Life Service 100% of our clients who have been diagnosed with a palliative condition worry who will take on the pet care and how we can make sure they live a full life and are not euthanized unnecessarily.


On receipt of a referral one of the first questions we will ask our clients is “What arrangements are in place and have you made any prior arrangements with members of your family or friends”.  If the answer is no arrangements have been made we will support the individual find alternative arrangements whilst supporting them to keep their pets up until death or transfer into hospital or hospice.


We work closely with both national and smaller local pet charities with a view to rehoming.  The following major charities are able to provide support but it must be stressed that demand often outweighs available space.

  • Battersea’s Forever Loved Service - the team at Battersea will give dogs and cats veterinary care at the shelter, looking after them there until they find a safe and happy home.
  • The RSPCA’s Home for Life Scheme - the RSPCA take on exotic pets as well as dogs and cats. Pets are looked after in shelters or foster homes around the country until they can be properly rehomed.
  • The Cinnamon Trust - the Cinnamon Trust takes in pets while their owners are in hospital or in care, keeping them in volunteer foster homes around the country. You can also arrange to have your pet permanently fostered with them in the event of your death.
  • Cats Protection’s Cat Guardians -pre-register with Cats Protection to get an Emergency Cat Care Card to carry in your wallet. This lets emergency service workers know who to contact to make sure that your cat can be brought into their care and eventually adopted.
  • Dogs Trust - pre-register to get a Canine Care Card for your wallet, and they will arrange care for your dog until a happy home can be found.

Make provisions for pets in a will

Because they’re legally seen as property, you can’t leave money to your pets in your will. However, you can use a will to appoint a guardian for your pet" someone who will look after them in the event of your death. If you already have a will, you can add this as a codicil instead of writing a new one.


When providing for pets in a will, it’s a good idea to include a back-up guardian just in case the person you’ve chosen is unable to take care of your pet when the time comes.


You can leave your chosen guardian some funds in your will specifically for the upkeep and care of your pet. If you like, you can do this by setting up something called a discretionary trust. This sort of pet trust fund puts aside money for the care of the pet, usually with the new owner as the trustee in charge. You can also say what will happen to any funds left over when your pet dies.


Use a letter of wishes to explain how to care for your pets after your death

A letter of wishes is a useful extra step when estate planning for pets. It’s essentially a set of instructions to help your executor and beneficiaries understand your wishes better, kept with your will. You can use it to explain exactly how to care for your pet: what to feed them, favourite walks, odd habits" all the little things only an owner would know.


Doing it yourself


You do not have to employ a funeral director and may decide to take care of the arrangements yourself. This section outlines how to arrange a simple funeral without a funeral director, or only in part. Doing it yourself can be less expensive, but may take more organisation and work.


If the death is expected, it may help to start thinking about it and to plan ahead of time. Find out more here.