What to do when someone dies


We are available 24 hours a day, every day.  Just call any of our offices and your call will be personally answered by a member of staff, whatever the time.

Death at Home

When a death happens at home you will need to call your GP or the out of hours’ service.  If the deceased’s normal GP attends, he/she will issue a certificate. (A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death).  If the ‘on call’ doctor attends, you will need to collect the Medical Certificate from the surgery, after telephoning them first to check it is ready to collect.  You will need the Medical Certificate to register the death.

Once the doctor has attended and confirmed the death, call us and we will make arrangements to come to the house and bring the deceased into our care. 

Death in a Nursing/Rest Home

If the death has occurred at a Rest Home, the Rest Home staff usually notify the Doctor.

In either case, once you have contacted us we will make arrangements for the deceased to be moved to our Chapel of Rest.

Death in a Hospital

A Doctor at the hospital will sign the necessary Certificate and all you need to do is contact us.  We will make arrangements with the hospital to have the deceased moved to our Chapel of Rest.

You will need to contact the Bereavement Office at the hospital to ascertain when the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will be available for you to collect. You will need this to register the death.

Death away from home

If a death occurs anywhere in the United Kingdom or overseas, simply contact us and we can make all the necessary arrangements for you to have the deceased returned home.

Should you need advice on any aspect of international repatriation do contact us.


Sometimes, the attending doctor will be unable to sign the certificate because the person died suddenly or unexpectedly.  In these instances the death is reported to the Coroner. There is no need to be concerned about this and it will not necessarily delay the funeral.

If the death occurred at home, the Coroner’s contractor will attend to take the deceased to the local hospital.

Do contact us and we will let the Coroner know that we will be looking after your loved one. The Coroner’s Officer will keep in close contact with you and will let you know when you can attend the Registrar’s Office to register the death.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

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How we can help


Once you have notified us of the death, we will arrange to bring your loved one to our Chapel of Rest.

We will then arrange to meet with you to discuss the funeral arrangements.

This meeting can take place at our offices or via telephone, whichever is most convenient for you.

We always respect your wishes, no matter how simple or complex the arrangements; they will be dealt with in a dignified and professional manner.

The Arrangements

When a Death occurs or someone dies The decisions made by you are important and thus we will spend as much time as you need to ensure you are comfortable with the funeral arrangements.

We will discuss everything that needs to be done to ensure that the funeral is what you would wish and reflects the life of your loved one.

After our meeting

We will make contact with the relevant third parties to check availability and will call you with the proposed date and time for the funeral, taking into account the dates and times that were discussed with you at our meeting.

Once the date has been agreed, we will send a written confirmation of all the details discussed, together with an estimate of charges.  The document that we send will also give details of timings on the day of the funeral.

Remember, if there is anything you are not sure about, or if you have further questions, please do get in touch.


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Registering a Death

All deaths should be registered within five days, unless the death has been reported to the Coroner, in which case they will tell you when you can register.

Where to Register a Death

You can go to any register office. If you use the one in the area where the person died you’ll be given the documents you’ll need on the day you register.

If you use a Register Office in a different area, the documents will be sent to the office in the area where the person died before they are issued to you. This means you will usually wait a few days.

Addresses of local Register Offices can be found in your local telephone directory or on the local government websites. However, you will need to make an appointment.

Both Essex County Council and Southend Borough Council offer the facility to make an appointment on-line.

Essex County Council – 0345 603 7632 – www.essex.gov.uk/registrations

Southend Borough Council – 01702 215009 - www.southend.gov.uk/info/200214/deaths

Who can register a death?

  • A relative
  • A person present at the death
  • A person responsible for the funeral
  • A responsible person from the hospital or home where the person died.
  • Someone who lives in the house where the person died.

What the Registrar will require

  • Medical certificate of cause of death (that was issued by the Doctor)
  • Date and place of death
  • Full names of the deceased and any other names that might have been used in the past
  • Usual home address and postcode
  • Date of birth of the deceased
  • The maiden surname (if the person who died was married or a widow)
  • Occupation of the deceased
  • Full name and occupation of the spouse, if married
  • The NHS Number or medical card if available
  • Details of any pension or allowance from public funds

It would also be helpful if you could take the birth certificate for the deceased if you have it.

The Registrar will issue:

  • A Certificate for Burial or Cremation (green in colour) which should be handed to your funeral director.
  • A form to be completed by you and sent to the Department for Work and Pensions, with any benefit or pension details.

At the time of registering the death, you can obtain certified copies of the entry in the Register (a charge will be made for additional copies).

Many organisations (such as Insurance companies, Banks, etc) will need to see a copy of the Certified Copy of the Entry in the Register, you might therefor consider obtaining more than one certificate.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

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Who to contact

At a time when you are grieving it is difficult to get to grips with paperwork and let the appropriate organisations know about the death, but sadly there are things that need to be done.

Both Essex County Council and Southend Borough Council operate the Tell us Once service on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions. This service reports the death to government organisations and local council services. This saves you having to notify every organisation yourself.

To understand more about the Tell Us Once service there is an informative video explaining what you need to do and then what they do on your behalf - to watch the video, click HERE

When you attend the Registrar’s office to register the death, the Registrar will give you a letter with a unique reference number and instructions on how to use the service either online or by telephone.

Tell us once

Before using the ‘Tell us once’ service you will need to have the following information relating to the deceased:

  • Date of birth
  • National insurance number
  • Name and address of their next of kin
  • Name and address of any surviving spouse
  • Details of any benefits they were receiving i.e. state pensions
  • Details of any council services they were receiving i.e. disabled badge
  • Driving license number (if applicable)
  • Vehicle registration number (if applicable)
  • Passport number (if applicable).

Legal Considerations

In some circumstances it may be advisable for you to consult a Solicitor. For example, if the deceased has left a Will, it is important to establish whether it contains any wishes regarding Funeral arrangements.

If you need help with Probate or advice generally, please do contact us

other organisations to contact

You might wish to get extra copies of the Entry in the Registrar whilst you are with the Registrar as many organisations will require an original copy.

  • Insurance company 
  • Employer
  • Bank and Building Societies
  • Utility companies
  • Mortgage provider
  • Credit card provider

If you have any questions, please contact us.

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Help with meeting the cost of the funeral

The person who arranges the funeral is responsible for paying the funeral bill.  Sometimes family members pay for the funeral themselves or the funeral is paid for from the estate of the person who has died.  Perhaps the deceased had a pre-paid funeral plan – paying in advance for their funeral or an insurance policy.

Initially it is important to find out if any of these documents exist.  They might be in your possession, or perhaps a Will has been lodged with a solicitor.  If you are unable to find the Will, there is a National Will Register – the current cost to search for a Will is £38 + VAT.  Follow the link below for further help.

National Will Register

If there is no Will, you will need to decide who will deal with the deceased’s estate.

Some people do not leave enough money to pay for their funeral, in which case the responsibility falls to the person arranging the funeral.  If you receive certain benefits and meet the strict criteria, you may be able to get some help from the Social Fund.  The Social Fund is run by the Government to support people on low incomes.   It is unlikely that any Funeral Payments received will cover the whole cost of the funeral.

If you do not meet the criteria for a Funeral Payment, or the payment does not cover the cost of the funeral, you might be able to get an interest-free loan from the Social Fund.  The following links may help:

Social Fund Guidance

Funeral Payments

Bereavement Allowance

Citizens Advice

If you find  that you may have difficulty paying for the funeral, please let us know as soon as you can.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

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