What to do when a loved one dies

Fortunately dealing with the death of a loved one is something most people only do once or twice in their lifetime, but as it is something that is done so infrequently, it often leaves people with many questions and not knowing which way to turn. 

At Binder & Sons we are not only here to help with the funeral, our staff will be on hand with advice on all aspects of dealing with a death, from registration, informing the right people and also after the funeral with our after care services.

Below is some advice that you may find helpful when you are first notified of a loved one’s death.

Initial Steps

At Home

Whether it be expected or unexpected death, a qualified doctor (this could be either the GP or duty doctor) should be contacted to attend and confirm the death on every occasion. After the doctor’s paperwork has been completed we are then able to bring your loved one in to our care. Whilst some families may prefer us to do this as soon as possible, some families may wish to say their goodbyes at home.  We will do whatever we can to make sure your wishes are met at this difficult time.

In a Care Home

A qualified doctor will need to be in attendance, although professional nursing staff are often in attendance too, to confirm the death; this is required before we can bring your loved one into our care. The staff on duty will arrange for the Funeral Director to bring the deceased into their care on behalf of the family. We understand the importance of respect and discretion at this time and so we aim to respond to calls as quickly as possible.

In a Hospital

Medical staff will be on hand to take care of any immediate arrangements after a death has occurred and will then take the deceased into the hospital mortuary. The necessary forms and personal effects will then be available for the family to collect, after a request has been made, from the hospital’s bereavement office.


If a death is unexpected i.e. cause of death is unknown, when the death is of a suspicious nature, when the death is a result of an accident or when the death is a result of industrial disease, the certifying doctor is legally bound to present the circumstances to the Coroner. In most cases the involvement of the coroner is a formality and an examinations normally made in order to ascertain the cause of death, however, this should not delay the funeral from taking place. If the coroner feels that the death is not due to natural causes or is a result of industrial disease, a formal inquest may be held at a later date; the Coroner will keep you informed of any necessary procedures should this be the case.

Registering a Death

When someone dies their death will need to be registered and in most cases will need to be registered within 5 days of the death.  It is usually easier to use the registry office in the areas where the death occurs and may help with delays in getting the necessary documentation.  The following people can register a death

  • Any relative of the person who has died
  • Any person present at the death
  • A person who lives in the house where the person died
  • The person arranging the funeral, but not a funeral director

Registering the death will involve a simple interview with the registrar, to whom you will need to give the following information;

  • The full name of the person who has died
  • Their full address
  • Their Date of Birth
  • Details of where and when the person died
  • Their occupation, if they had one
  • if a married woman, her maiden name and her husband’s full name and occupation

Whilst registering you will also need to give the registrar the following documentation, and have with you if applicable;

  • Certificate of cause of death (signed by a doctor)
  • Birth Certificate
  • Marriage/Civil Partnership Certificate
  • NHS Medical Card

Once registration has been completed the registrar will issue you with the following;

  • A certificate for Burial/Cremation

This is known as a green form and should be given to your funeral director as soon as possible

  • A certificate of registration of death

This should be filled in and sent to the social security office for the area where the person died

You can buy copies of the death certificate, sometimes known as the entry of death form, from the registrar for a small fee.  The fee varies from region to region and you will need this certificate for official purposes such as closing bank account or pension schemes and some banks/organisations will only accept an original, so sometimes it might be worth purchasing a couple of copies

What if the Coroner is involved?

Under certain circumstances the death must be reported to the Coroner (England and Wales) or Procurator fiscal (Scotland) by the doctor, hospital or registrar.  This means that there is going to be a post mortem or inquest in to the death and may lead to a delay in funeral plans.

In this case there will be no cause of death certificate and the death will be registered once the coroner has made their decision.

Choosing A Funeral Director

Without a doubt, coming to terms with the death of a loved one is one of the most upsetting and distressing experience that any of us will have to go through. One of the many practical arrangements and responsibilities to deal with during this time will be to find a good funeral director. Here’s what to look out for when choosing the best funeral director:

The role of a funeral director is to ensure that the whole process of arranging and holding the funeral runs smoothly. They will offer expertise knowledge and will be open to any discussions as to the choices the family may have, all in a caring and compassionate way to help the bereaved through this difficult time; this is found to be a comforting approach by many families.

The key services a good Funeral Director will offer are:

  • Collect and care for the deceased until the day of the funeral
  • To dress the deceased
  • Offer expert advice on planning the funeral ceremony
  • Supply coffin bearers
  • Take care of all paperwork pertaining to the legalities of the cremation or burial
  • Managing all funeral arrangements up to and including the funeral ceremony ensuring everything runs smoothly

In addition to key services the best Funeral Directors should also offer help and advice with:

One of the most important considerations when finding a good funeral director is whether they are a member of the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF). Using SAIF members you can be assured of a compassionate, professional approach, underpinned by the SAIF industry leading Code of Practice. It can be a great comfort having the reassurance ad experience of an established and trusted local funeral director; SAIf are committed to ensuring the funeral profession maintains the highest of standards through carrying out a Quality Assurance Assessment and inspection every two years.

Additionally, there are things you can do when wondering how to find a good funeral director:

  • Take your time; whilst a funeral director can be called to collect the deceased from home or from a nursing home, there is still the ability to have them transferred to another funeral director for a nominal charge before any paperwork is signed. If the deceased has passed in hospital they will be taken into the mortuary, which will give you more time to choose a good funeral director.
  • Ask for help; talk to your friends and family, people often want to feel useful at these times and they may be able to recommend a good funeral director. There’s a good chance that you’ve never planned a funeral before, making important decisions like how to find a good funeral director may be overwhelming at such a time, having support from others will be a huge help.
  • Know your options; a good funeral directors will have the knowledge and expertise to talk you through all the options, giving you advice relative to all aspects of funeral arrangements, from registering the death to recommending florists and everything else besides.
  • Read the customer reviews; most good funeral directors will feature a Customer Reviews page on their website; we recommend that you take some time to have a read through what people are saying about them.
  • Know and stick to your budget; the funeral you choose will be depend on your budget, because it is so important to you to give your loved one the goodbye they deserve, it is easy to overspend. Bear in mind that a good send-off is characterised by what you say and what you do, not what you spend on it. Adhering a budget to a good funeral director will help you work within your budget whilst still giving your loved one the send-off that they deserve.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions

A good funeral director will be happy to answer any questions you may have to help put your mind at ease, these may include:

  • Can I see my loved one at short notice, or many times before the funeral?
  • Will you be able to talk me through costs and give me a quote with my budget?
  • What types of transport do you offer?
  • Can you offer a choice of coffins?
  • What crematoria, cemeteries or natural burial sites are in the area where the funeral could be held?
  • Can you organise funeral donations?

A good funeral director will be prepared to visit you in the comfort of your own home, where you will feel more at ease.

Who To Inform

There are going to be lots of people you are going to need to speak to in order to notify them of the death.  This may include family and friends, banks, DVLA, pensions providers, utility companies etc.

Some family and friends may already know of the death and may help you tell other friends.  Sometimes it might be worth considering a notice in the local or national newspapers to help let people know.  If you decide this would be an option you would like to choose we can help you with the drafting and placing of the announcement.

Some Banks and companies will want you to send a copy of the death certificate to them and will help you with what needs to be done next.  If your loved one had firearms the police will need to be contacted to dispose of the firearms or help a friend obtain am interim certificate to hold the firearms temporarily.  If you have any questions on notifying any organisations please call our office, our staff will be happy to help in any way we can.

Useful Contact Information

Local Registrars


Langtons House
Billet Lane
RM11 1XL

01708 433481


Woodlands House
Rainham Road North
RM10 7ER

020 8270 4744


Seven Arches Rd,
CM14 4JG

0345 603 7632


Queen Victoria House
 Cranbrook Road

020 8708 7123


2nd Floor Thameside Complex
Orsett Road
RM17 5DX

01375 372245


Basildon Centre
St Martin’s Square
SS14 1DL

0845 603 7632


East Ham Community Centre 
328 Barking Road 
East Ham 
E6 2RT 

020 8430 2000

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