All deaths must be registered within five days of the person passing away or within five days of you receiving the medical cause of death certificate. Registrars require you to make an appointment by telephone or some offer an online appointment system, unless the Coroner has been involved.
The medical certificate shows the cause of death and is normally issued by the Doctor who attended the deceased during their last illness (This is normally in a sealed envelope addressed to the registrar and is free of charge). We can advise you if you are unsure of where to collect this from.
The death must be registered by the Registrar for Births and Deaths covering the area in which the death occurred. The death is usually registered by an executor or family member but can be registered by the person present at the time of death; if you are unsure if you have the authority to register the death we will be able to advise you. All Registrars require you to make appointment.
When you attend the Registrars you will need to take the following with you, if available but do not worry if not:
The registration procedure is a simple interview with the Registrar who will require the following information:
Once the death has been registered the Registrar will then issue you with:
You will be able to buy one or more Death Certificates at this time. These may be required by the executor or administrator when sorting out the deceased person’s affairs. Death Certificates are currently £11.00 each and you are advised to get an extra copy or copies. They are required by the executor or administrator when sorting out the deceased person’s affairs.
A coroner is an independent judicial officer who has been appointed by a local council. Coroners usually have a legal background of a solicitor or barrister or a qualified medical background as they must be familiar with medical terminology.
A coroner will investigate deaths which have been reported to them if it appears that:
In all the above cases the coroner must investigate to find out ‘who has died, how they died, when they died and where’. This is for the benefit of the deceased family and friends and for official records.
If a coroner has decided an investigation is necessary because he cannot ascertain the cause of death from speaking with medical staff alone then a pathologist will be ordered to carry out a post-mortem examination of the body.
The results will then be passed over to the coroner who will advise the family, state the cause of death, ask the family to register the death and proceed with the funeral arrangements. The coroner has a duty to release the body as soon as possible, currently we must advise families that there should be a period of seven days allowed, where it is understood the funeral will not take place. I think it is good for a family to meet up with their funeral director as soon as possible to start to go through the arrangements as it can be a very unsettling time waiting for answers.
If after the examination has taken place it is not possible to find out the cause of death or the death is determined to be ‘unnatural’ the coroner will hold an inquest. An inquest is a public court hearing held by the coroner in order to establish who has died and how they died and when and where the death occurred.
The inquest is usually held within 6 months of the death occurring, we understand that this is a very anxious time for families as it can feel like there is no closure until the case is reopened in court. The funeral will have taken place and interim death certificates will have been produced by the coroner to allow the families to look after their loved one’s affairs.
If the death occurred in prison or in custody or as a result of an accident, there would usually be a jury present at the inquest.
The coroner will have reached a conclusion at the end of an inquest and will have decided upon the legal ‘determination’ of how that person passed away. When recording the cause of such deaths the coroner may use one of the following terms:
There may also be a brief narrative conclusion setting out the facts surrounding the death in more detail and explaining the reason for the decision made.
It is not necessary in most coroner’s court cases to instruct a solicitor to represent you, although you may do so if you wish. An inquest is a fact-finding process and the coroner will ensure that the process is fair and thorough, and that your questions about the causes of death are answered.
You can challenge the decision of a coroner and if you are wanting to do so that it must be within a 3-month period from the time of the court’s decision being made.
The Coroner will also:
When you register your loved one’s death the registrar will let you know if the service is available in your area, give you the online details or telephone number to use this service along with a unique reference number.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will contact you about the tax, benefits and entitlements of the person who died.
Tell Us Once will also contact some public sector pension schemes so that they cancel future pension payments. They’ll notify: