What to do first

The death of a loved one can be a very distressing and troubling time, and it can be hard to know what to do next. This page aims to guide you through the necessary steps that will have to be made after someone close passes away and explain the administrative procedures involved.

If the death has occurred in a private residence, you must contact the person’s GP or the out-of-hours service. If the death occurs in a nursing home or hospice, generally, the staff will summon a Doctor or other qualified person on your behalf. In both instances, if practical, this should be the Doctor that looked after the person during their last illness.

(N.B. If the doctor or qualified person who certifies death is not the patient’s normal Doctor, the necessary documentation will need to be ordered from their normal Doctors surgery)

The Doctor will issue the following documentation:

  • A Medical Certificate that states the cause of death
  • A Formal Notice that states that the Doctor has signed the Medical Certificate and informs you how to register the death.
  • A Medical Certificate that states the cause of death
  • A Formal Notice that states that the Doctor has signed the Medical Certificate and informs you how to register the death.

Once the doctor or other qualified person has attended to certify the death, call us so we can attend and bring your loved one into our care.

What happens if the Coroner is involved in the Death?

If the Doctor cannot certify the cause of Death, i.e. the deceased died suddenly, they will notify the Coroner. The Coroner must investigate the circumstances of the death to try to establish the cause. Once the Coroner has been informed, they will arrange for the contracted funeral director to take the deceased to be taken to the local hospital, and a post-mortem examination may take place. A post-mortem examination is a medical examination of the body to establish more about the cause of death; contact details for the Coroner’s service are below.

Southend & Essex Coroners Service

0333 0135000


Ground floor, Seax House Essex County Council Victoria Road, South Chelmsford,

white star gazer

Registering the death

You are generally required to register the death within five days except in certain circumstances, where the period may be extended to 14 days. If the Coroner is investigating the death, they will issue the Death Certificate to you directly, and you will then be required to register the death once the Coroner’s Certificate has been received.

Who can register the Death?

People with legal responsibility to register include:

  • A Relative
  • A person present at the death
  • The occupier of the premises where the death occurred if they knew it was happening.
  • The person arranging the funeral. (This does not mean the funeral director.)

(See also the list on the notice to Informants attached to the Doctors’ Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.)

Where do I register the death?

Your relative’s death will be registered by a prior agreed telephone appointment.

Once you have registered the death, the registrar will send you the Death Certificate by post and email us the certificate of burial or cremation, allowing the funeral to occur.

N.B.  If you require additional copies of the Death Certificate, these are best purchased when registering and are £11 per copy; please ensure you have a means of payment available, such as a credit or debit card.

Castle Point Council, Rayleigh & Rochford Council areas

Offices open: Monday: 9 am – 5 pm

Centralised Appointment’s Booking No: 0345 603 7632

or book online @ www.essex.gov.uk

Southend Borough Council areas

  • Leigh-on-sea
  • Westcliff
  • Southend (inc. Southend Hospital)
  • Shoeburyness

Monday – Friday 9.30 am – 12.30 pm, 1.30 pm – 4 pm

Appointments Booking No.: 01702 215009

or book online @ www.southend.gov.uk

Useful contacts

A complete guide to death and bereavement.
Visit site

HM Coroner for Essex
Information on HM Coroner for Essex.
Visit site

Essex Registrar
Find your nearest registration office when registering a death.
Visit site

Details you may need

There are several details of the deceased that it would be helpful to have at hand that will help you complete forms or documents in the coming days and weeks.

  • National Insurance Number
  • NHS Number
  • Date and Place of Birth
  • Date of marriage or civil partnership (if appropriate) Child Benefit Number (if appropriate)
  • Tax Reference Number

What happens if there isn’t a will?

If there is no will, a close relative of the deceased can apply to the probate registry to deal with the estate. In this case, they apply for a ‘grant of letters of administration’. If the grant is given, they are known as ‘administrators’ of the estate. Like the grant of probate, the grant of letters of administration is a legal document which confirms the administrator’s authority to deal with the deceased person’s assets. In some cases, for example, where the person who benefits is a child, the law states that more than one person must act as the administrator.

Supporting You Along The Way

If you wish to have a discussion with one of our funeral arrangers, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can talk through yours and your loved one’s needs and discuss how we can best celebrate their life.