First Steps When Someone Dies - What? (2023)

What to do when someone dies

When someone dies, there are certain procedures that must be followed. The following tips should simplify the process and provide help and support during this difficult time.

If death was expected and the cause of death is clear, the process should be fairly straightforward. You will need to obtain a medical note, register the death and start making funeral arrangements. If your loved one has died in the hospital or nursing home, the staff should be able to offer advice on first steps.

If the death is unexpected and the cause of death is unclear, a coroner will be involved and take care of the necessary paperwork. In that case, you may have to wait a little longer before finalizing funeral arrangements.

If your loved one dies in the hospital or nursing home

If your loved one is hospitalized or in a nursing home, staff should contact family members if they believe death is imminent so they have an opportunity to say goodbye. However, there will not always be time to do this if your condition is rapidly deteriorating.

The hospital staff or nursing home administrator should be able to advise you on what to do after someone dies. Most hospitals have a specialized bereavement or patient affairs unit that helps those who have lost a loved one in the hospital.

The specialized personnel of a hospital must:

  • take care of the initial stages of paperwork, including contacting a GP and obtaining a doctor's note
  • advise you on what to do next, includingrecording a deathand choose a funeral director
  • return your loved one's belongings, which you will need to sign for, possibly picking up valuables at the till
  • provide information about local bereavement services.

At this point, you can also see your loved one if you wish (this is a very personal decision, so please don't feel obligated to do so).

in scotland, hospitals do not have centralized bereavement services and procedures are performed in the ward where the patient died.

(Video) 5 Steps When Someone Dies

What will happen to my relative's body?

After someone dies in the hospital, the nursing staff cleans up the body and prepares it for the morgue. If you have any specific requirements, for example related to your loved one's faith, you must inform the team. The body will then be taken to the hospital mortuary, where it will remain until you have made arrangements for its transfer, usually to the undertakers. You will have another chance to see your loved one here if you wish.

After someone dies in a nursing home, you will need to arrange for an undertaker to come and remove the body.

Under certain circumstances, the hospital or nursing home must report a death to a medical examiner. If this happens, it may take a little longer for your loved one's body to be released for a funeral.

If your loved one dies at home

What happens after a death at home depends on whether or not the death was expected.

If death was expected

If death was expected, for example if your loved one was terminally ill, you should call your doctor as soon as possible so that a medical certificate can be issued by a doctor (see below).

Once the doctor has seen your loved one's body, he or she can arrange for a funeral director to pick it up. If they don't have a GP or you don't know their name call an ambulance to pick them up.

If the death was unexpected

If someone dies unexpectedly, call emergency services immediately on 999. Describe the circumstances to the operator, who will give you clear instructions on what to do next. Depending on the circumstances, they may send an ambulance and/or police.

If the cause of death is unclear, paramedics usually call the coroner's officer to attend to them. He will arrange for the body to be taken to the morgue, either to the hospital or to the coroner.

(Video) When Someone You Love Dies - 7 Legal Steps to Take to Make Things Easier

The police may want to examine the location where the death occurred. It is often not immediately obvious whether someone died of natural causes or as the result of an accident or criminal act. If that's the case:

  • do not disturb the surrounding area except essential to try to help the person
  • if it's clear the person is dead, don't touch anything.

Once the police arrive, they can provide you with more information on how the area should be treated.

What is a medical death certificate?

If death was expected, the cause of death must be determined by a medical professional and recorded on an official document called a medical death certificate. You will need a copy of the medical certificate before you can register the death.

The cause of death is usually written in formal medical terminology, stating the primary cause and other contributing conditions. If it's clear why the person died and it was of natural causes, it should be easy for a doctor to determine the cause of death and issue a medical certificate immediately.

However, if the doctor is unsure of the cause of death or has not seen the patient for 14 days (in England, Scotland and Wales) or 28 days (in Northern Ireland), the doctor will not be able to issue a medical certificate. certified immediately. In these cases, the death must be reported to a coroner. If the coroner does not see the need to investigate, the doctor can issue a medical certificate. If the coroner decides that aexam after deathIf necessary to determine the cause of death, this will be done and the relevant documents will be passed to the registrar.

What is the difference between a medical death certificate and a death certificate?

  • A medical death certificate is a piece of paper issued after someone dies. It details the cause of death and you need it to register the death.
  • The death certificate will be issued to you after you register the death. You may need to show it to companies and organizations to prove the person has passed away, for example if you need to close your bank account. We explain more on our page aboutrecording a death.

Checklist: the steps to follow when someone dies

Use our checklist of things to do when a loved one passes away. This is also available for download.


Obtain a medical certificate confirming the cause of death. If your loved one died at home, you can call your GP. If your loved one died in a hospital or nursing home, they must take care of it.


Inform the next of kin (if not you) and other family members.

(Video) 15 Step Checklist: What To Do After Someone Dies


Contact others who may need to know right away, such as close friends, caregivers, your employer or landlord.


Keep a notebook handy to jot down any important GP or hospital details; if you are in shock, you may not remember things clearly later on.


If you are making arrangements for someone who lives alone, make sure the property is locked and secure and cancel all deliveries (like milk and newspapers). See that all pets are fed and cared for.


Once you have the medical certificate, you canregister death.


Make sure you have four or five copies of the death certificate.


Choose a funeral director.


Start Making Funeral Arrangements – Did your loved one leave you any instructions about their wishes?


Consult will. This should name the person responsible for managing your loved one's finances. If there is no will, theuntested rulesdetermine how the property should be managed.

(Video) 7 Steps to settling an estate after death of a parent


Start by canceling accounts or contracts or transferring them to your name if, for example, your partner has passed away. Examples of this include banks, telephone providers, and gas and electricity providers.


Don't be afraid to talk to close friends and family about your pain. You may want to consider grief counseling to help you through this difficult time. You may also need to let your employer know if you need time off work.


Find out if you need toinventory. This is the official process of dealing with someone's finances, property and assets after their death.

Download the checklist

Checklist: What to Do When Someone Dies

pdf (34 KB)

There is a file available for download. (pdf-34KB). This file is available for download in .

Organ donation

In England, Scotland and Wales, all adults are considered to have agreed to be organ donors when they die unless they register a decision not to donate. In other words, the organ donation process is now an 'opt-out' system, whereas before it was opt-in.

(Video) 17 Things To Do Upon the Death Of A Family Member by Christopher T. Stanton

This means that if your loved one has not confirmed whether they want to be an organ donor, either by registering a decision in theNHS organ donor registryor talking to friends or family, they will be deemed to have agreed to donate their organs after death. However, the medical team will continue to speak with you to ensure that your loved one does not express any objections to organ donation prior to death.

Unlike the rest of the UK, the organ donation system is optional in Northern Ireland. At the moment, the only way for someone to register their wish to be an organ donor is to sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register.

For more information, see the following websites:


What is the first thing to do after someone dies? ›

Immediate Steps to Take When a Loved One Dies
  1. Getting a legal pronouncement of death. ...
  2. Arranging for the body to be transported. ...
  3. Making arrangements for the care of dependents and pets.
  4. Contacting others including:
  5. Making final arrangements. ...
  6. Getting copies of the death certificate.

What is the first thing to do when someone dies at home? ›

If your loved one dies at home:
  1. Call the doctor or 911. If a living will or "Do Not Resuscitate" order is in place, it may sound odd, but make sure the person is dead before you call authorities. ...
  2. Once paramedics arrive and confirm the death, they may notify the local coroner or medical examiner.

How do you answer how are you doing after a death? ›

Prepare Some Answers in Advance

Examples might include: I'm not doing so well today, but knowing you're there means a lot. Please feel free to keep asking. I'm not sure how I feel right now, but I would love some company in the next few days.

What do you say to someone who lost a loved one? ›

Things that can be helpful
  1. Say how sorry you are. ...
  2. Share a memory. ...
  3. Offer them space to talk. ...
  4. Tell them however they feel is OK. ...
  5. Recognise how hard it is for them. ...
  6. Ask if there is anything they need. ...
  7. Tell them you're thinking of them. ...
  8. Sometimes you don't need to say anything.

When should you go after someone dies? ›

If you are a close friend or relative: Call or text immediately, find a time to visit the bereaved at home, and continue to stay in touch on a daily basis. If you are a casual friend or extended friend: Send an email or text immediately and follow up after the funeral.

What does the family have to do when someone dies? ›

These urgent post-mortem tasks include:
  • Reporting the death.
  • Notifying friends and family.
  • Registering the death.
  • Obtaining a burial permit.
  • Choosing final disposition options.
  • Planning the funeral.
Dec 15, 2021

Who do you inform first when someone dies at home? ›

Death at home

When someone dies at home, the first step is to call the GP. The GP will normally visit the house and if the death was expected, issue a certificate giving the cause of death. If the person did not have a GP or you do not know the name of the GP, you should call an ambulance instead.

What is the process when a family member dies at home? ›

If the person dies at home unexpectedly without hospice care, call 911. Have in hand a do-not-resuscitate document if it exists. Without one, paramedics will generally start emergency procedures and, except where permitted to pronounce death, take the person to an emergency room for a doctor to make the declaration.

What is the best rip message? ›

You have my deepest sympathy and unwavering support. Wishing you peace, comfort, courage, and lots of love at this time of sorrow. My heart goes out to you at this difficult time. Wishing you the best and know you have my full support in every moment.

How do you text someone after a death? ›

Use these text messages for condolence examples:
  1. I'm so sorry to hear about your [uncle's, aunt's, father's] passing. ...
  2. Please know that I'm thinking of you and your family during this difficult time.
  3. Your mother was a loving and caring woman. ...
  4. I'm devastated by the news of your friend's passing.
May 24, 2022

How do you say may your soul rest in peace? ›

May his/her soul rest in peace, and may you find peace as well. Praying you feel God's arms around you as you weep. Sending you the strength and courage you need to face the days ahead without him/her.

What is a short prayer for grieving family? ›

O Lord, we call upon You in our time of sorrow, that You give us the strength and will to bear our heavy burdens, until we can again feel the warmth and love of Your divine compassion. Be mindful of us and have mercy on us while we struggle to comprehend life's hardships.

How do you comfort someone who lost a family member? ›

How to Help Someone Who Is Grieving
  1. Be a good listener. ...
  2. Respect the person's way of grieving. ...
  3. Accept mood swings. ...
  4. Avoid giving advice. ...
  5. Refrain from trying to explain the loss. ...
  6. Help out with practical tasks. ...
  7. Stay connected and available. ...
  8. Offer words that touch the heart.
Jul 1, 2018

How do you comfort a grieving friend? ›

The Do's
  1. Check in on them. Make an effort to check in with your friend, even if it is a quick phone call, a card or an invitation to grab a coffee together. ...
  2. Understand the grieving process. ...
  3. Listen more, talk less. ...
  4. Let them cry. ...
  5. Ask questions. ...
  6. Offer practical help. ...
  7. Be willing to sit in silence. ...
  8. Remember important dates.
Aug 9, 2022

Is it OK to send a text when someone dies? ›

The answer is yes, if you are comfortable doing so. Texting a condolence is an efficient way to immediately reach out to friends and family. A heartfelt message lets those who are grieving know we are thinking of them. Receiving these short, meaningful messages allows the bereaved to feel comforted and supported.

Can you feel the presence of a loved one who passed away? ›

After someone dies, it's normal to see or hear them. Some people also reporting sensing the smell or warmth of someone close to them, or just feel a very strong sense of their presence. Sometimes these feelings can be very powerful.

When someone dies who do you tell? ›

Who to contact
  • the family doctor.
  • register the death at the relevant Registrar's Office, except where the death has been referred to the Coroner.
  • find the will - the deceased person's solicitor may have a copy if you can't find one.
  • begin funeral arrangements - you will need to check the will for any special requests.

How many death certificates do I need? ›

You'll usually need one certified copy (not a photocopy) for each insurance, bank or pension company you're dealing with. You may also need to give copies to the executor or administrator who is dealing with the property of the person who's died.

Do police come when someone dies at home? ›

Police officers attend all incidents of sudden or unexpected deaths that occur outside of a hospital or medical setting. Police are the initial representatives for the Coroner's Office.

Who do you call when someone dies in their sleep? ›

If your partner dies of natural causes or in their sleep: If there is no medical professional with you, call 911. This will start the process of getting a legal death pronouncement, whether it's given in your home by a paramedic or at the hospital by a doctor or nurse. Call your funeral services provider.

What happens minutes before death? ›

Physical signs

Facial muscles may relax and the jaw can drop. Skin can become very pale. Breathing can alternate between loud rasping breaths and quiet breathing. Towards the end, dying people will often only breathe periodically, with an intake of breath followed by no breath for several seconds.

What happens to house bills when someone dies? ›

What happens to debts when someone dies? When someone dies, their debts become a liability on their estate. The executor of the estate, or the administrator if no will has been left, is responsible for paying any outstanding debts from the estate.

How long can a person stay at home after death? ›

In most states, you're allowed to keep the body at home until the burial or cremation. The specific length of time allowed may vary from state to state, but generally, a few days is acceptable. Make sure you're aware of your state and local laws to avoid any legal issues during an already stressful and emotional time.

What to take to someone's house after someone dies? ›

Sympathy Cards and Flowers

Cards and flowers are classic choices for sympathy gifts. A thoughtful card will show the family how much you care and appreciate them and are there to support them during this difficult time. Flowers can brighten up their home but also serve as a symbol of loss and love.

How do you say simple condolences? ›

Use them as they are, or add your own personal touch.
  1. May memories of (Name) comfort you.
  2. I hope you know we're here for you.
  3. Our love goes out to you.
  4. Thinking of you at this time of loss.
  5. Thinking of you in this difficult time.
  6. Always thinking of you and your family.
  7. Gone from our sight, but never from our hearts.

How do you say rest well in heaven? ›

50 Ways To Say “Rest In Peace”
  1. Forever in our hearts. This is a simple but beautiful way to express your love and respect for the person you've lost. ...
  2. May God be with you. ...
  3. Fly away peacefully. ...
  4. Gone too soon. ...
  5. Eternal rest. ...
  6. In loving memory. ...
  7. At peace now. ...
  8. Farewell, beloved one.

How do you respond to sad news of death? ›

Condolence Message
  1. Our thoughts are with you.
  2. Thinking of you in these difficult times.
  3. My prayers are with you and you family.
  4. Our hearts go out to you in your time of sorrow.
  5. Sharing in your sorrow with love and friendship.
  6. No words can describe how sorry I am for your loss.

What not to say to a person who is grieving? ›

  • “How are you doing?”
  • “You'll be okay after a while.”
  • “I understand how you feel.”
  • “You shouldn't feel that way.”
  • “Stop crying.”
  • “At least he's in a better place; his suffering is over.”
  • “At least she lived a long life, many people die young.”
  • “She brought this on herself.”
Sep 8, 2020

How do you respond to a funeral text? ›

When you're ready to reply, it's often best to start your response with a thank you. If the person has been more specific and offered their support, you can go on to show your appreciation for this too. If you feel comfortable, you could explain how you're feeling such as, “it's been a difficult few weeks”.

What are words of comfort at a funeral? ›

Here are some examples of what to say at a funeral:

I'm sorry for your loss. He will be missed by everyone that knew him. She was a lovely woman and will be greatly missed. You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers.

What is better to say than rest in peace? ›

Rest in paradise with eternal love, sweet Grandmother. We will miss you forever. 10. May he rest easy in grace and love and shine down on all of us.

Is it appropriate to put money in a sympathy card? ›

Consider Sending Memorial Money

Many people send flowers, but it's also really easy to put money on the card. When you send the money, let the family know you want them to honor their loved one in whatever way they see fit. They might really appreciate the funds because they needed help with the final service expenses.

What is the prayer of comfort? ›

Lord, You love me and by Your grace have given me eternal comfort and a wonderful hope. Now, comfort and strengthen me in every good thing I do and say.”

What are the prayers of comfort and strength? ›

Dear God, please give me strength when I am weak, love when I feel forsaken, courage when I am afraid, wisdom when I feel foolish, comfort when I am alone, hope when I feel rejected, and peace when I am in turmoil. Amen.

What is the eternal rest prayer? ›

Eternal rest grant unto him (her) O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him (her). May the soul of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

What are five ways to support a grieving person? ›

5 ways to support a grieving friend or relative
  • Talk about it. It is normal to feel scared about making things more difficult or painful. ...
  • Make promises that you can keep. ...
  • Stay in touch. ...
  • Remember that everyone experiences grief differently. ...
  • Give them time.
Jan 24, 2018

How do you console someone using words? ›

Show up in the ways you know you'd need it, if you were in their place.
  1. “I'm here for you” is a good place to start. ...
  2. “I am always here for you. ...
  3. “Just letting them know, you are there anytime day or night.” ...
  4. “They just need you talk to them like a good friend. ...
  5. “Just be there with hugs and say, I'm so sorry!”
Feb 14, 2020

What to do when a friends parent dies? ›

10 ways to support a friend who has lost a parent
  1. Talk to them. ...
  2. Give them time, and space. ...
  3. Don't say you understand how they're feeling. ...
  4. If they go off the rails for a bit, don't lecture them. ...
  5. Offer to go to the funeral with them. ...
  6. If someone wants to cry, let them. ...
  7. Be there for them when all the fuss has died down.
Nov 8, 2017

What does the Bible say about grieving death? ›

There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.

What should you not do when a loved one dies? ›

Top 10 Things Not to Do When Someone Dies
  1. 1 – DO NOT tell their bank. ...
  2. 2 – DO NOT wait to call Social Security. ...
  3. 3 – DO NOT wait to call their Pension. ...
  4. 4 – DO NOT tell the utility companies. ...
  5. 5 – DO NOT give away or promise any items to loved ones. ...
  6. 6 – DO NOT sell any of their personal assets. ...
  7. 7 – DO NOT drive their vehicles.
Apr 13, 2019

How do I notify Social Security of a death? ›

If you need to report a death or apply for benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778). You can speak to one of our representatives between 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can also contact your local Social Security office.

Do you call an ambulance if someone dies at home? ›

If the death is unexpected

You should dial 999 if someone dies unexpectedly. The operator will tell you what to do to see if the person can be resuscitated. When ambulance staff arrive they will try resuscitation or else will confirm that the individual has died.

What happens to a bank account when someone dies? ›

If the deceased has named a beneficiary for the account, the person named will get access to it, but only after the probate process has concluded. If the deceased did not name a beneficiary or write a will, the probate court would name an executor to manage the distribution of the money after any debts are paid.

Does Social Security notify the IRS when someone dies? ›

We issue a CP01H notice when the IRS receives a tax return that contains a Social Security number (SSN) for an account that we locked because our records indicate the TIN belongs to an individual who died prior to the tax year of the return submitted.

Who is the first person to call when someone dies? ›

If your loved one passes away at home, especially if it is unexpected, the first call should be 911. The reason for this is that a medical professional or coroner will have to confirm the death and sign a death certificate. After you call 911, your loved one will be brought to the emergency room to be examined.

Are you still married if your spouse dies? ›

Widowed. If your spouse has died, and you have not remarried, then you are considered unmarried. It may seem odd and you may still consider yourself as married. However, in the eyes of the law, your marriage ended when your spouse died.

What is the first thing to do when a spouse dies? ›

Financial checklist: 13 things to do when your spouse dies
  • Call your attorney. ...
  • Contact the Social Security Administration. ...
  • Locate your spouse or partner's will. ...
  • Notify your spouse's employer. ...
  • Contact your spouse's former employers. ...
  • Check with the Veteran's Administration.
Sep 30, 2021

Who notifies Medicare when someone dies? ›

The Social Security office automatically notifies Medicare of the death.

Can you keep the Social Security check for the month someone dies? ›

If a beneficiary dies

Let us know if a person who receives Social Security benefits dies. We can't pay benefits for the month of death. That means if the person died in July, the check received in August (which is payment for July) must be returned.

How much does Social Security allow for funeral expenses? ›

If you (or your spouse) own life insurance polices or have other burial arrangements in addition to your $1,500 burial funds, some of the money in the burial fund may count toward the resource limit of $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple.


1. Steps to Take After the Death of a Loved One - Estate Planning 101
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4. What's the First Step in the Probate Process after a Death? Video 1 of 4
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5. First Steps - Handling Your Parent's Affairs After Death
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6. Learning to pronounce sentences in English | first steps ᚡ


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