How Do You Register a Death?

There are a wide range of tasks that you’re legally obligated to complete once a loved one has passed away. That’s why this week, Prestige Tax and Trust Services asks; how do you register a death?

Why register a death?

The first thing you need to do when someone dies is register their death. It’s a criminal offence not to register a death, and you can’t set your mind to completing any of the other vital tasks you need to complete once someone has passed away e.g. arranging their funeral, until you have done so.

Who can register a death?

You need to have some kind of connection to the deceased to register their death. According to Citizens Advice, you can register someone’s death if you are (in descending order of importance):

  • A relative who was present when they died.
  • A relative who was present during the course of their last illness.
  • A relative living in the district where they died.
  • Someone who was present when they died.
  • The owner or occupier of the building where they died.
  • The person arranging their funeral (but not the funeral director).

Get a medical certificate

If you rank higher on this list than anyone else, you have a legal obligation to register the death. However before you do, you’ll need to get a medical certificate showing the deceased’s cause of death from a GP or a hospital doctor. This is a simple process, unless the death’s been reported to a coroner; this means you can’t register the death until the coroner gives their permission.

‘Register a death tool’

Once you have the medical certificate, you have five days to register the death, or eight days if you live in Scotland. You can extend this by nine days however, if you tell the registrar who’s responsible for registering the death that a medical certificate has been issued.  The first thing you should do is complete the government’s ‘register a death tool;’ this will tell you how to complete the process of registering their death.

Going to the registrar

In the majority of cases (in England and Wales), it will tell you to go to your nearest register office and take several documents with you. This includes the deceased’s medical certificate and if possible their birth certificate, council tax bill, driving license, marriage/civil partnership certificate, NHS medical card, passport or proof of address (e.g. utility bill).

These documents will help you provide the vital information the registrar needs to register the death. The registrar will then give you two forms. The first is the Certificate for Burial or Cremation; you’ll need this to complete the application for burial or cremation. The second is the Certificate of Registration of Death; you’ll need to complete this form if the deceased was getting a State Pension or benefits (it comes with a pre-paid envelope which tells you where to send it).

Prestige Tax and Trust Services

Registering the death of someone who’s passed away can be a painful experience, but it needs to be done. If you want help to ensure you register their death correctly, come to Prestige Tax and Trust Services; our team have the legal expertise you need to complete the legal processing of registering someone’s death once they’ve passed away.

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