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What to do when someone dies

Death Occurring at Home or at a Care Home

When a death occurs at home, the first contact should be with the deceased’s doctor (GP). The doctor will usually attend the family home or care home and confirm the death. This can also be done by a qualified person such as an attending nurse, paramedic or locum doctor. Once the death has been confirmed Chamberlains can be contacted to transfer your loved one to their funeral home. In the case of an expected death the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will then be issued by the GP at their earliest convenience enabling you to register the death.

Chamberlains are available to give advice on obtaining Certificates and Registering a death. Please call 01922 493131

Death Occurring in Hospital

Most hospitals have their own Bereavement Centre with a designated Bereavement Officer. Their tasks will include obtaining the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death from the hospital doctor who took care of your loved one prior to their death, and in the case of cremation, requesting doctors to complete the Medical Certificates Forms 4 and 5 which form part of the legal cremation papers.

It is usual for hospital Bereavement Centre’s to only be staffed during normal office hours, for this reason there may be a short delay in obtaining the necessary certificates. Upon completion of the doctors paperwork and the death being legally registered Chamberlains will be able to transfer your loved one to their funeral home and begin arranging a funeral that suits your requirements.

Her Majesty's Coroner

Her Majesty’s Coroner has a duty to investigate all sudden, unnatural and suspicious deaths.  The individual circumstances will determine the level of involvement the Coroner has. In some cases very little action is required and after a discussion with your loved one’s GP, permission is given for a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death to be issued. Some cases will merit more involvement and require a Post Mortem Examination to be carried out to establish the cause of death, and, in a small number of cases where the death is of unnatural causes an inquest will be necessary.  This inquest will be opened and immediately adjourned to allow the funeral service to go ahead. The inquest will then be reopened at a later date when all the evidence and results are available. At all times during the Coroners enquiries you will be kept informed of how things are progressing by a Coroners Officer.

For further advice on Coroner’s procedure please contact us on 01922 493131. 

Registering a Death

Once a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (or an equivalent Coroners certificate) has been issued the death can be registered. This should take place in the district where the death occurred within five days unless the Registrar gives permission to extend this period.  Person’s legally allowed to register a death include the nearest surviving relative or a family member on their behalf, a person present when the death occurred, the occupier of the premises where the death occurred or the person legally responsible for arranging the funeral such as an executor.

Information the Registrar requires will include:

• The date and place of death

• The forenames and surname of the deceased  (including maiden name if applicable)

• The date and place of birth of the deceased

• The occupation of the deceased

• The usual address of the deceased

• The date of birth of the deceased’s partner

• The deceased NHS number

The Registrar will issue a Certificate for Burial or Cremation (green form) which the Funeral Director will require. Certified Copies of an Entry (Death Certificates) can be purchased from the Registrar at the time of registration. These will be required by solicitors, banks, building societies and insurance companies as evidence that the person has passed away.

It is possible to register the death in any Registrar’s office in England or Wales. However, this will require the informant to make a Declaration of Particulars of the death. In these cases it is important to note that the documents necessary for the funeral service to proceed will be issued by post and this will cause some delay in arranging a funeral and setting a date.

For further details on Registering a Death please call our offices on 01922 493131 


Cemeteries & Churchyards

It is important to note that churchyards and cemeteries have different sets of rules. Cemeteries are run by municipal or town councils and unlike churchyards offer families the right to purchase a grave for a set number of years. Generally residents from outside the district are allowed to be buried in any public cemetery but extra charges will apply for all non–residents.

Churchyards are run by the Church of England and are generally only open to residents of that parish. Many parish churchyards are now closed for new burials due to lack of space, resulting in burials only being available in a public cemetery.

Re–opening an existing grave, providing there is space for a subsequent interment is usually a simple procedure. However, please note that any existing memorial will usually have to be removed prior to the interment.

All Cemeteries and Churchyards have strict rules governing memorials placed on graves. Fees must be paid and permission granted before a memorial can be erected.

Green Burial Sites

Woodland Burial sites now offer an alternative to a churchyard or cemetery burial. Often located in rural parts of the countryside these sites are not limited to any faith or religion and are free from elaborate memorials. Usually only a living memorial, such as a tree, is allowed whilst only environmentally friendly coffins such as willow, bamboo, cardboard or unvarnished solid wood are permitted.

For more information regarding a burial site please call 01922 493131


Cremation is now the choice for over 70% of funerals occurring in the United Kingdom. Unlike Church’s most towns will only have one crematorium which is a non-denominational, multi faith building with a Chapel provided for the ceremonial service. Whether you have strong religious beliefs or have a humanist outlook a cremation service can be tailored around the wishes of your loved one and family. Funeral services can be conducted by a Minister or Civil Celebrant depending on the type of service you require. There is no obligation to use the nearest crematorium to where your loved one lived and additional fees seldom apply if a different crematorium is chosen.

The documentation required for a cremation differs from that of burial and part of our job is to obtain the relevant documents and submit them on time to the crematorium.

All crematoria operate under strict guidelines and observe the Code of Cremation Practice.

For further information concerning crematorium please contact us on 01922 493131 

Cremated Remains

Following a cremation there are a multitude of options regarding the final resting place for your loved ones cremated remains (ashes). The decision you make may well depend on what is available in your local area so please don’t be afraid to ask our dedicated team to inform you of the options. Each crematoria has a Garden of Remembrance where the ashes can be scattered or interred. Alternatively, the ashes can be collected from the crematorium and be buried in a local churchyard or cemetery, kept at home, scattered in a favourite place (permission may be necessary) or even transformed into jewellery.

It is important not to rush such a decision therefore if you are undecided Chamberlains are more than happy to retain your loved one’s ashes until you have made a decision.