When someone dies

When someone dies at Katharine House Hospice

When someone dies at the hospice you can spend time with your relative/friend. You will need to inform the staff if your loved one is to be buried or cremated and provide them with the details of the funeral director if you are using one. The next step is for you to inform the Funeral Director that your loved one has died, and they will make arrangements to move them to the funeral director’s chapel of rest. Your loved ones belongings can be taken at that time of death or collected within the following days.

Death certificate and Registration of Death

The Hospice emails the death certificate to the registrar and then the registrar’s office contacts the designated family member or friend of the deceased patient, so that they may register the death electronically.

Deaths are required to be registered within 5 working days, however in the rare event that the Coroner has been involved this may be extended.

The Hospice require the full name and contact details of the person registering the death in order to pass on to the registrar.

For information visit the Staffordshire County Council website  

When someone dies at home

When someone dies in the community and members of the Katharine House Hospice team are present, we will contact you as the family, if you are not present about your loved ones death. The District Nursing Team are contacted to undertake the necessary arrangements for the verification of the death.

Often the District Nurse will come out approximately an hour after the death is reported. If the death is verified by the District Nurse, as family or close friend you would normally collect the death certificate from the GP a couple of days later.

If there is no one who can verify the death at the time, contact is made with the GP or out of hours team depending on the time of day or night, to request that a doctor to come to the house and certify the death. This can take a bit of time as it’s not classed as an emergency.

Katharine House hospice team will stay and support you if require this, but often find that families like some time alone with their loved one. If as a family you would like the Katharine House Hospice team to undertake the care after death, we can return to the home of your loved one, once the death has been verified to do last offices.

We will also contact your chosen undertaker if as a family you would like us to.

When a Coroner is involved

In some circumstances the death may by law have to be referred to the Coroner’s Office. The Coroner is a doctor or lawyer appointed by the local authority to investigate certain deaths. These may include an unexplained or sudden death, an accidental death, or if the death was a result of an industrial disease for example mesothelioma.

How do I register a death?

Deaths are no longer registered face-to-face, instead upon registration services receiving and accepting the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death from the GP/Hospital/Hospice via an online portal system, the next of kin is called and an appointment made for one of the registrars to call them to register the death.

What information does the Registrar need ?

  • the person’s full name at the time of death
  • any names previously used, e.g. maiden name
  • the person’s date and place of birth
  • their last address
  • their occupation
  • the full name, date of birth and occupation of a surviving or late spouse or civil partner
    whether they were getting a State Pension or any other benefits

At the time of the registration, it is possible to purchase death certificates which will be posted out to those who have requested them.

The form required for the authority for the funeral to take place is scanned and sent direct to the families chosen funeral directors the same day so the family will be able to finalise sorting the funeral.

Who do I tell when someone dies?

When someone dies, there are a number of government departments you must inform. You could use the Tell Us Once service to contact several departments in one go.

Tell Us Once

This service is offered by most local councils in England, Wales and Scotland. At the point of registering the death ask for more information about this service.  If you prefer, you can also access the service online or over the phone. You’ll need a unique reference number from the registrar to do this.

  • The departments you can contact in one go include:
  • local services such as electoral services, housing benefit and
  • council tax services
  • HM Passport Office
  • the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
  • the Department for Work and Pensions
  • HMRC for tax purposes.
  • the Blue Badge scheme.

If your local council doesn’t offer this service, you’ll need to contact these departments yourself. You can go online at www.gov.uk/after-a-death/tax-benefits-vehicles for more information on what you need to do.

You’ll need to return the driving licence of the person who has died to the DVLA and their passport to HM Passport Office

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) – Contact them to return a driving licence.
Tel: 0300 790 6801 (for driving licence enquiries)

HM Passport Office – Government organisation responsible for issuing all UK passports. Contact them to return the passport of the person who died. Tel: 0300 222 0000

Powers of attorney
If the person had a registered lasting power of attorney or enduring power of attorney and you were the attorney, send the original document and a death certificate to the Office of the Public Guardian in England and Wales.

Office of the Public Guardian – Registers lasting powers of attorney and helps attorneys carry out their duties.Tel: 0300 456 0300

How do I arrange a funeral?

The person who died may have left funeral instructions in their will or a letter about their wishes. They may have made a specific request – for example, a woodland burial or a coffin made of particular materials. However, if there are no clear wishes, the executor of the will or nearest relative usually decides on funeral arrangements and whether the body is to be cremated or buried. If the person had certain religious or cultural beliefs, you may want to reflect these in the service.

Arranging the funeral
Before cremation can take place, a number of forms should be completed. These include a certificate from a doctor, which is also signed by another doctor, and an application form completed by a relative or executor of the will. These forms are available from the funeral director.

Paying for a funeral
If you arrange the funeral, you are responsible for paying the bill so check first where the money will come from. The person who died may have paid into a life insurance policy or pension scheme that provides a lump sum towards funeral costs, or into a pre-paid funeral plan. Contact the Funeral Planning Authority to find out if the person had a funeral plan with one of the main providers.

Funeral Planning Authority – Regulates providers in the UK pre-paid funeral plan industry. Contact them to find out if the person who’s died had a funeral plan with one of the main providers. Tel: 0845 601 9619

If the person who died left money, property or other assets, these can be used to pay for the funeral, as funeral costs come before paying off any debts. Sometimes banks and building societies will release money from the person’s account to pay funeral costs if they see a certified copy of the death certificate, but they do not have to do this until probate (known as confirmation in Scotland) is granted.

Probate is the legal process of distributing the estate of the person who has died. If there’s a delay, you may need to pay the funeral costs yourself in the meantime.

Using a funeral director
Ask funeral directors for quotations to help you decide which company to use. You should ask for an itemised quote that includes:

  • the funeral director’s services
  • a coffin (there will be a range of prices and styles you can choose from)
  • collection and care of the body
  • a hearse to the nearest crematorium or cemetery
  • all necessary arrangements and paperwork.

Funeral directors may ask for fees paid to third parties such as the crematorium, clergy and doctors – known as funeral disbursement costs – to be paid up-front. Ask the funeral director to explain these charges. Be sure to choose a funeral director who’s a member of a professional association, such as the National Association of Funeral Directors or The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF).

National Association of Funeral Directors – An independent Trade Association with the membership within the funeral profession.

National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) – A trade association whose members are all independent funeral directors.

If you don’t want a public funeral, you could ask the funeral director about ‘direct cremation’. This is where the body is collected from a mortuary and taken to the crematorium. It’s less expensive, as there’s no need for a hearse, no ceremony at the crematorium and the cremation takes place at a time convenient to the crematorium.

You can then hold a commemorative ceremony at a time and place that suits you.

Arranging a funeral without a funeral director
You don’t have to use a funeral director when someone dies, some people now have ‘do-it-yourself’ funerals. This would involve more for you to organise, but can be less expensive and more environmentally friendly as well as more personal and intimate. This type of funeral often takes place when someone has planned for it themselves before their death, as it can involve more advance planning.

If you want to arrange a funeral in your local cemetery or crematorium, contact your local council for advice. If you would like to know more about DIY funerals, contact the Natural Death Centre (page 27).

Help with funeral costs
If you’re responsible for arranging the funeral and you’re on a low income, you may be eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment to cover various costs. These payments are made through the Social Fund – a government fund to help people with one-off payments and emergency expenses. If you receive money from the person’s estate, you’ll usually have to repay the Funeral Expenses Payment from this. A house or personal items left to a surviving spouse or civil partner are not counted as part of the estate.

Before making arrangements with a funeral director, call the DWP Bereavement Service (page 25) or check with the local Jobcentre Plus (page 27) to find out what help you might get.

If there’s no money for a funeral, or if no one is willing to pay for or arrange the funeral, the council will arrange a public health funeral, although they may seek the costs back from the estate. Contact your local council for further information.

Dealing with the estate
Probate is the legal process of distributing the estate – money, property and possessions – of a person who’s died.

Sorting out the will
First you will need to find out whether the person made a valid will. A will explains what should happen to the person’s estate. A bank, solicitor, the Probate Service, a trusted friend or relative or a will safe facility may hold it.

The government website can help you find out if the person had a will. Go to www.gov.uk/search-will-probate to find out more. If there is a will, the person who died should usually have appointed executors to deal with the estate. If no executors were appointed, or there is no will, the court appoints an administrator.

If there is no will, the person is said to have died ‘intestate’ and there are different rules (known as the rules of intestacy).  The rules of intestacy are complex, and you should take advice if you’re dealing with the estate.

How do I create a lasting legacy?

Creating a lasting legacy
Losing someone you love can be overwhelming and life can feel tough without them. Here at Katharine House we understand that you may need something positive to focus on – a way to cherish and honour their memory and also help to provide support for other local families. Here are a few suggestions on how you can do this.

A Tribute Fund
Remembering a loved ones jokes, quirks, stories and passions can be a lovely way of keeping happy memories alive. By opening a Tribute Fund online, family and friends can share photographs and memories of your loved and if you wish it is a convenient way of collecting donations in their memory.
You can set up a Tribute Fund online at www.khhospice.org.uk/in-memory/

Funeral Collection
Some families choose to ask for a donation to be made to Katharine House instead of buying flowers for a funeral. This is a simple and effective way of supporting the Hospice, whilst celebrating the life of a loved one and helping future patients. The most efficient way to do this is by setting up an online Tribute Fund or we can provide you with envelopes. Your funeral director may be able to handle all of this for you if you let them know that you would like to support Katharine House Hospice.

Leave a gift in your will
After a loved one has passed away, you may need to write or update your Will. Every year we are honoured to receive gifts in wills from people just like you. Every gift, large or small really does make a difference to those we care for when they need it most.

If you need any help or advice, please call fundraising on 01785 270808 or email fundraising@khhospice.org.uk

Links to useful organisations

Age UK – Information Line 0800 055 6112 www.ageuk.org.uk

Bereavement Register -Register the name and address of a deceased person to help stop unsolicited mail. Tel: 020 7089 6403 or 0800 082 1230 for the 24-hour automated registration service www.thebereavementregister.org.uk

Bereavement Advice – help with the legal and practical side of bereavement including probate, funeral planning and online counselling  0808 168 9607 www.bereavementadvice.co.uk

DWP Bereavement Service – Carries out eligibility checks on surviving relatives to see what benefits they can claim. Also takes claims for Bereavement Support Payments and Funeral Expenses Payments.  Tel: 0800 731 0469

Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) – Contact them to return a driving licence.Tel: 0300 790 6801 (for driving licence enquiries) www.gov.uk/government/organisations/driver-and-vehiclelicensing-agency

Funeral Planning Authority – Regulates providers in the UK pre-paid funeral plan industry. Contact them to find out if the person who’s died had a funeral plan with one of the main providers. Tel: 0845 601 9619 www.funeralplanningauthority.com

General Register Office (GRO) – Registers and supplies official information on births, marriages and deaths registered in England and Wales.  Tel: 0300 123 1837 www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certificates/login.asp

GOV.UK – Government website that contains information about bereavement benefits and the Tell Us Once service. www.gov.uk        www.gov.uk/tell-us-once

HM Passport Office – Government organisation responsible for issuing all UK passports. Contact them to return the passport of the person who died. Tel: 0300 222 0000 www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-passport-office

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – For information about taxes. Tel: 0300 200 3300  Textphone: 0300 200 3319

Human Tissue Authority – Provides information about body donation for medical research and details of medical schools. Tel: 020 7269 1900    www.hta.gov.uk

Jobcentre Plus DWP– Provides information on services such as benefits, loans, grants and funeral payments. Tel: 0800 055 6688     Textphone: 0800 023 4888 www.gov.uk/contact-jobcentre-plus

Law Society of England and Wales – Helps people find a solicitor and produces guides to common legal problems. Tel: 020 7242 1222  www.lawsociety.org.uk/for-the-public

National Association of Funeral Directors – An independent Trade Association with the membership within the funeral profession.   Website: www.nafd.org.uk

National Insurance Contributions Office – For information about National Insurance contributions.Tel: 0300 200 3500 www.gov.uk/government/organisations/hm-revenue-customs

National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) – A trade association whose members are all independent funeral directors.  Website: saif.org.uk

Natural Death Centre -Provides information on all types of funeral choices, but especially family-organised, environmentally friendly funerals and natural burial grounds. Tel: 01962 712 690      www.naturaldeath.org.uk

NHS Organ Donor Line – Call to check if someone was on the organ donor register.  Tel: 0300 123 23 23

Office of the Public Guardian – Registers lasting powers of attorney and helps attorneys carry out their duties. Tel: 0300 456 0300 www.gov.uk/government/organisations/office-of-the-publicguardian

Probate and Inheritance Tax helpline – Information and advice on probate and inheritance tax.  Tel: 0300 123 1072

Tax Help for Older People – Gives free tax advice to older people on low incomes Tel: 0845 601 3321 or 01308 488066   www.taxvol.org.uk

Turn2us – Helps people access the money available to them – through benefits, grants and other help. Tel: 020 8834 9200    www.turn2us.org.uk

Veterans UK – Administers the pension and welfare schemes & provides support services to members of the Armed Forces and veterans.  Tel: 0808 191 4218 www.gov.uk/government/organisations/veterans-uk

War Widows’ Association of Great Britain – Gives advice, help and support to all war widows and their dependents.  Tel: 0845 2412 189  www.warwidows.org.uk