What to do after a death
Registering a death
By law a death must be registered. This is done by the registrar of births and deaths, usually in the district in which the death occurred, although it is possible to register the death in another area by declaration.
Before arranging a funeral
Before arranging a funeral, it is important to check if the deceased has left any instructions in their will regarding their wishes.
For example they may have:
- wished to donate organs for transplantation or their body for medical research
- indicated their choice between burial and cremation, or provided specific instructions concerning the funeral ceremony itself
Funeral arrangements may have already been made using a pre-payment plan, or deeds set aside to indicate their ownership of a grave.
If there is a will, the executor has the right to decide whether the deceased should be buried or cremated (even if the will expresses a particular wish).
If there is no will, the next of kin should decide.
Arranging a funeral
The death must be registered, and the necessary forms completed before any burial or cremation can take place. Funeral arrangements however can begin straight away, if the deceased hasn’t already made these arrangements.
Public health funerals
We will make funeral arrangements for anybody who dies within South Gloucestershire where no other arrangements are likely to be made, for example when the deceased has no family and they haven’t left a will. This responsibility is placed on the council by Section 46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.
For more information on what to do after a death and useful contacts refer to our Bereavement guide.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) booklet “What to do after a death” is currently being reviewed and is out of print. The information can now be found at https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death. A downloadable leaflet “What to do when someone dies” is also available. The AtaLoss.org website has been set up to help the bereaved to find the support they need.