What should I do if my relative dies at home?
When a death which has been expected occurs at home or at a nursing home, the doctor who has been treating the deceased should be contacted.
Provided the deceased has seen a doctor during their final illness (within the previous 14 days) the doctor or a colleague will either attend to confirm that death has occurred, or will give permission for the deceased to be transferred to our funeral firm’s premises, if it is your wish for this to happen.
You can then contact Barry Pritchard Funeral Services, and we will attend to transfer the deceased to our premises.
What should I do if my relative dies in Hospital?
If your relative who has been a hospital in-patient dies, the doctors who have been treating the deceased will usually be able to issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.
Ask the ward staff or doctor what you need to do to collect this certificate, or ring your local funeral firm for advice and contact numbers. Most hospitals will give family members the opportunity to sit with the deceased before transfer from the ward or private room.
There may even be a chapel of rest at the hospital specifically for this purpose. The deceased will then be taken to the mortuary from where they will be transferred to our funeral home.
The Doctor says he won’t issue the medical certificate of cause of death. Why is this?
If the doctor will not issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death it is usually because the circumstances surrounding the death mean it should be referred to HM Coroner for further investigation.
The doctor can only complete the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death if they know the cause of death having seen the deceased for this illness in the 14 days prior to death occurring.
The doctor cannot issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death if the deceased:-
- Has died a violent or an unnatural death;
- Has died a sudden death of which the cause is unknown;
- Has died in prison or in such a place or in such circumstances as to require an inquest under any other Act.
- If the death does not fall into these criteria but the deceased underwent an operation shortly before death or there is a suggestion of a possible industrial disease, then it is probable that the doctor will not complete the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death but refer the death to HM Coroner in whose sub-district the death occurred.
- If the death is referred to HM Coroner their office will arrange for the deceased to be taken to their mortuary in order that the death can be investigated and, if necessary, an inquest opened.
What does Her Majesty’s Coroner do?
The office of HM Coroner dates from Saxon times and has evolved down the centuries.
Generally, HM Coroner has been, and is, one who acts on behalf of the Crown in legal matters connected with disaster and property rights, treasure trove, shipwreck and the like, thus leading to the investigation of the many deaths which occurred at such a time. Having complete jurisdiction over all sudden and unexplained deaths was a natural extension of his/her powers, and this forms the main part of his/her work today.
Originally HM Coroner was named ‘Coronae Curia Regis’- the keeper of the royal pleas. Today, the correct title of HM Coroner is – ‘Her Majesty’s Coroner for usually the whole or part of a Local Authority area, ie ‘Her Majesty’s Coroner for Sheffield’. Her Majesty’s Coroner for Rotherham etc
The main duties of the Coroner today are:-
- To investigate all sudden and unexpected deaths,
- To investigate all deaths that happen abroad where the body is repatriated to the United Kingdom;
- To give permission to remove bodies out of England and Wales;
- To act for the Crown in respect of treasure trove.
The holder of the post of HM Coroner usually has a legal background and is not infrequently a solicitor. He/she can also be a doctor with a legal background, and is occasionally both. Although the Local Authority supplies the Coroner Service, paying all costs – including the costs of removals by funeral firms acting on behalf of the Coroner – the Coroner is not employed by the Authority, being only answerable to the Crown in the person of one of Her Majesty’s Secretaries of State, namely the Home Secretary.
The Coroner Service is administered by HM Coroner who is assisted by a Deputy, as the service has to be available at all times. In the major jurisdictions HM Coroner may have a Coroner’s Court, offices and a public mortuary all in one facility. However, HM Coroners mostly operate from solicitors’ offices or the like, using Local Authority or hospital mortuaries. In addition to having clerical help, HM Coroners, are assisted by a Coroner’s Officer or Officers. Normally, the Coroner’s Officer is a Police Officer seconded to the Coroner Service working on a full time basis – in plain clothes; however, in more rural areas it can be any Police Officer on duty. With the increasing civilianisation of many areas of Police work, the office is often held by a retired Police Officer or other civilians with some legal background.
The Coroner’s Officer assists by taking statements from witnesses, carrying out investigations required by HM Coroner, arranging for the removal of the body to the appropriate mortuary and generally liaising between the family, pathologist, funeral firm and HM Coroner.
Staff at Barry Pritchard Funeral Services are familiar with HM Coroner’s procedures in your area and will be able to advise you how to proceed.
Which Registrar’s Office should I go to?
In England and Wales, the death has to be registered at the registrar’s office in the area where the death occurred. This is the case even if the death occurred a distance from home. However, there is a facility available to attend your local registrar’s office to register a death that occurred in another area. This is called Registration by Declaration, and involves the two registrars electronically transferring documents in order to register the death. Depending on the circumstances, this can delay the date of the funeral.
What will the Registrar give me?
In the majority of cases the registrar will then issue:-
- copies of the entry in the register – on payment of the prescribed fee. NB: copies of the entry, which are usually required for legal purposes, may be obtained from the registrar up to six months from the date of registration. After six months copies can be obtained from The Registrar General, PO Box 2, Southport PR8 2JD;
- the registrar’s Certificate for Burial or Cremation (this form is green in colour). NB: this form should be handed to us and we will hand it to the appropriate authority in due course;
- a Certificate of Registration or Notification of Death. This certificate is needed in order to claim benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP);
- leaflets on State benefits and Form 48 (procedure for dealing with Wills).
It is possible that the DWP Form SF200 will be available for those that may need to make a claim for a Funeral Payment from the Social Fund. Once completed, this form should be taken or sent to your local JobCentre Plus with any pension or benefit books in the deceased’s name, or in joint names. Find out more about funeral and death related benefits here
Do I have to register the death before arranging the funeral?
You do not need to have registered the death to begin making arrangements with us. However, in order for the funeral to take place it is necessary to have registered the death. The funeral itself cannot proceed without the death being registered. The registrar’s Certificate for Burial or Cremation (the “Green Form”) will be issued.
We have never been a religious family – do we have to have a vicar to take the ceremony?
No, there is no requirement to hold a religious funeral service and there are a number of alternatives.
The British Humanist Association, Institute of Civil Funerals and Fellowship of Professional Celebrants have networks of officiants who will provide a very personal non-religious ceremony.
Perhaps a relative or friend could contribute to the service if they feel able to do so. Other members of the congregation could speak or read verses or poems.
What are green funerals and woodlands burials?
“Green funeral” is a term often used to describe funeral services that take a less traditional form and seek to minimise impact upon the world’s natural resources. This may mean choosing a woodland burial ground, deciding not to have overseas-grown flowers at the funeral or selecting a coffin made of materials such as bamboo or wicker.
An environmentally responsible funeral need not differ significantly to any other. By checking that the wood used to make a wooden coffin is obtained from sustainably managed resources, using a local cemetery or crematorium and arranging to share vehicles when travelling to and from the funeral would be significant strides to achieving an environmentally responsible funeral.
Woodland burial grounds are cemeteries, often privately run, where strict rules govern what can and cannot be buried. If you are considering buying a grave in a woodland burial ground, you should visit to see whether it is what you expect and ask to see their terms and conditions.
Of particular interest should be the length of the exclusive right of burial and what the long term plans for the site are. We are able to provide you with information about woodland burial grounds local to you should you require it.
Funerals can be expensive. How will I know if I can afford it?
We are able to give you a written estimate of what the costs of our services are likely to be based on your specific requirements.
We are able to separate our fees from those of third parties such as cemeteries, crematoria, churches, doctors and so forth (known to funeral directors as disbursements).
Can I get any assistance with funeral costs?
Assistance is available from the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Social Fund which can provide assistance to individuals who meet the required criteria. To qualify you must demonstrate that you are the most suitable person to take responsibility for paying the funeral account – additionally you must be receiving at least one of several qualifying benefits and have insufficient savings to pay for the funeral.
The DWP Funeral Payment will provide a limited amount, which may cover a very basic funeral, or provide a contribution towards a more traditional funeral. Your chosen funeral firm will be able to advise you about the qualifying criteria and the likely contribution available.
Form SF200 can be downloaded here