Skip to content
Golden Charter > News & Advice > What to do when someone dies

What to do when someone dies

24 Aug 2023 | 3 min read time

It’s not easy to know what to do following the death of a loved one. We hope our short article will help make things feel a little more straightforward. We cover what to do following the period immediately after the death, notifying authorities, arranging the funeral, and handling personal affairs.

The latest official guidance for what to do when someone dies is available on the UK Government website. You can find a step-by-step guide on how to register the death, notify government departments, and deal with your loved one’s estate.

What to do when someone dies: first steps

Immediately after someone dies, you’ll need to arrange for a medical certificate that states the cause of death before a death certificate can be issued. A member of staff will usually organise the relevant medical certificates if the death happens in a hospital or hospice. If the death takes place at home, the deceased's general practitioner will issue the medical certificate.

Once you’ve obtained or are in the process of obtaining the medical certificate, the next step is to take care of the body.

If the death was at home, some choose to look after the body themselves for a short time. You can also contact a local funeral director to care for the body at their funeral home.

Registering the death

The registration of death is used to formally note that someone has died. There are different ways and timeframes to register a death depending on where it happened. The UK government website can help to give you specific advice.

There’s no cost for registering a death, but there may be a charge for death certificates and copies. It’s best to get multiple death certificates, as most banks only accept official copies. Your registrar will be able to tell you how many copies of the death certificate you’re likely to need.

It’s important to inform all relevant government departments of your loved one’s death. Tell Us Once is a government service that notifies multiple government departments of the death, including HMRC, the DVLA, and the Passport Office.

You’ll also need to inform utility companies, banks, and service providers. Settld is a service that can help you with this. Once the form has been completed, it notifies hundreds of organisations such as banks, building societies, energy suppliers and water suppliers.

What to do when someone dies: dealing with funeral arrangements

In a hospital or hospice, the deceased is most often moved to a temporary place of rest while funeral arrangements are made.

If the deceased had purchased a pre-paid funeral plan with Golden Charter, then a phone call to the specified funeral director will activate the plan. The funeral director will then carry out your loved one’s wishes as detailed in their plan.

If there wasn’t a funeral plan in place, your loved one may have left instructions in their will stating their wishes. If they haven’t left instructions, you can speak to your chosen funeral director about the options available to you.

If you need help finding a funeral director, you can search for funeral directors near you on

When arranging a funeral, you’ll decide on things such as:

  • The type of funeral (burial or cremation)
  • The type of coffin
  • The venue
  • Flowers
  • Music
  • Readings
  • Who to invite

Paying for the funeral

The final cost of the funeral will depend on what’s included. Your funeral director will be able to provide you with exact costs.

The person arranging the funeral is responsible for payment. If the deceased doesn’t have a funeral plan in place, family members may choose to pay funeral expenses themselves, or funds from the estate can be used in certain circumstances.

If you’re struggling to cover funeral costs, you may be eligible to receive support. For England and Wales, up-to-date information on Funeral Payments is available from the UK government website. If you live in Scotland, info on Funeral Support Payments can be found on the Scottish government website. And, for Northern Ireland, you’ll find info regarding Funeral Expenses Payment on the Northern Irish government website.

Bereavement support

We all deal with bereavement differently. When grief seems overwhelming, getting support can help us begin to move forward again.

We’ve created a helpful list of organisations and services that can help. These organisations are there to offer a range of support services, and advice for people finding it difficult to cope with their grief.

Golden Charter

Smart Planning for Later Life

We are one of the largest funeral plan providers in the UK* and we work with over 2,900 independent funeral directors across the UK*. Many are long-standing, family-run businesses and all provide a compassionate and professional service.

Find out more about how you can plan for the future with one of the funeral directors in our network.