What should I do when someone dies?

Working out what to do first when someone dies can seem overwhelming. 

Besides letting family and friends know, there are several organisations you need to notify. Find out what you need to do as soon as possible, as well as in the weeks and months after someone dies.

What you need to do straight away after a death

As soon as you can, you’ll need to get a medical certificate, register the death and arrange the funeral.

You don’t need to deal with the will, money and property immediately.

Get a medical certificate.


Immediately, unless there’s a coroner’s inquest where the certificate is issued after this.


If the person dies in hospital, the hospital will give this to you. If the person has died at home, call their GP.

Any costs?

Register the death


Within five days for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and within eight days for Scotland.

If there’s a coroner’s inquest (or procurator fiscal in Scotland), registration is delayed until the inquest concludes.


Depending on which country the deceased lived in, you must register the death:

  • In England and Wales, contact the Register Office. Find your nearest registered office on the GOV.UK website.
  • In Northern Ireland, contact the District Registration Office. Find your closest office on the nidirect website.
  • In Scotland, contact the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Find out more on the National Records of Scotland website.

Any costs?

Registering for death is free, but to get a certificate, you will pay £11 in England and Wales, £12 in Scotland or £15 in Northern Ireland.

The cost does rise if you later decide you want more copies. So, it’s worth getting extra copies, as it’s usually cheaper and easier to do at this point.

This lets you deal with several organisations simultaneously, instead of waiting for your only copy to be returned before you can deal with the next one.

Any documents needed?

You need the following information about the person who died:

  • the medical certificate with the cause of death
  • full name, including any previous names – such as maiden name
  • date and place of birth
  • last address
  • occupation
  • Full name, date of birth and occupation of their surviving/late spouse or civil partner if they were married.

If available, you should also take their:

  • birth certificate
  • marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • National Insurance number
  • NHS medical card
  • proof of address, such as a utility bill
  • driving licence
  • passport.

You should also bring identification, such as a driving licence, to show proof of your identity.

Arrange the funeral

When you’ve registered the death, you can arrange the funeral.

Most people do this through a funeral director but arranging the funeral yourself is possible.

The coronavirus outbreak has imposed severe restrictions on funerals, which makes organising a meaningful ceremony seem difficult. 

In the weeks following the death

When you’ve arranged the above, you must tell various organisations about the death.

Notify the person’s landlord and other organisations


As soon as possible.


If you were privately renting together and the lease is in the deceased’s name, you’ll need to let the landlord know and ask for it to be transferred to your name.

You’ll also need to have your name transferred for any bills or payments.

Organisations you might need to contact include:

  • housing associations or council housing offices
  • mortgage providers
  • employers
  • Utility providers.


You’ll need to contact each organisation.

Notify government departments


As soon as possible after receiving the death certificate.


  • Passport Office – to cancel their passport
  • HMRC – for their taxes
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – to stop their State Pension and benefits.
  • DVLA – to cancel their driving licence, car tax and car registration documents
  • Local council – for their Council Tax, electoral register and other housing benefits
  • Public sector or armed forces pension scheme for their pension.


You can use the Tell Us Once service to notify government departments simultaneously.

Most local authorities offer the service in England, Wales and Scotland, but not Northern Ireland.

If your local council doesn’t offer the Tell Us Once service, you’ll need to notify these departments individually.

Any costs?

The service is free.

Information needed?

You’ll need to provide the following information:

  • The unique reference number is given to you when you register the death.
  • name, date of death and National Insurance number of the deceased
  • contact details, date of birth, passport number (if available) and National Insurance number of the next of kin
  • details of the person dealing with the deceased’s estate
  • Permission from the next of kin, the executor, the administrator or anyone claiming joint benefits or entitlements with the deceased to give out their contact details.

If available, you should also provide:

  • name and address of their next of kin
  • details of any benefits or entitlements they were getting, such as State Pension
  • details of any local council services they were getting, such as Blue Badge
  • name contact details of the person or company dealing with the deceased’s estate – the ‘executor’ or ‘administrator.’
  • details of any public sector or armed forces pension schemes they were getting or paying into.

Return the person’s passport and driving licence


As soon as possible after receiving the death certificate.


By post. See the following links for details of where to send these documents:

Your household finances likely changed when your partner died. You can do things to manage the bills, mortgage, insurance and finances.

Notify insurers and creditors


Ideally, as soon as possible after receiving the death certificate or within a month of the death.


Insurance companies, banks or building societies, credit card companies, utility companies, pension providers and other companies that owed money to the person who died or was owed money.


By calling the company, visiting the local branch (for banks or building society), or by visiting their website, they might have an online form you can complete.

If you know the account details, you can use the free websites Settled or LifeLedger to help you contact the utility companies, banks, pension providers, insurance firms, TV and broadband providers and even social media websites about a bereavement.  

Doing this should help save time and stress as you only need to upload the death certificate once within the service. 

Using the free online Death Notification Service, you can also contact a number of financial institutions, including most major banks and building societies, even if you didn’t know about the account.

It would help if you also placed a deceased estate notice in The Gazette to inform other creditors. For example, you might be liable for unidentified debts if you don’t do this. 

Any costs?

It’s free to notify these companies. But the person who died might have had outstanding debts or payment arrangements with these companies that need to be settled.

How you sort out the person’s financial affairs will depend on whether they made a will or died without a will.

Any documents needed?

When dealing with these companies, you’ll need official copies of the death certificate.

You’ll also need to give the contact details of the executor or administrator of the estate.