What happens when someone dies at home UK?

When someone dies at home, the first step is to call the family doctor as soon as possible. The GP will usually visit the house and, if the death was expected, issue a certificate giving the cause of death. If the person did not have a GP or you do not know the name of the GP, you should call an ambulance instead. If someone dies at home unexpectedly, call 111 immediately and ask for advice.

Frequently asked questions

If someone dies at home at night in the UK, you should try to contact their family doctor or GP who will visit the house and issue a certificate giving the cause of death. If the death was expected, for example due to terminal illness, you may contact the doctor the following morning.  

When looking at who is responsible for funeral costs, you should first see if the person who died has a will. The executor of the will is usually responsible for arranging the funeral. Funeral costs should be first priority before anything else. If there is no will, it is assumed that the family will provide funeral arrangements. In either case, whoever arranges the funeral may pay for it using funds from the bank account of the person who died.

Many banks will release an agreed amount to cover funeral costs. If the person who died took out a funeral plan, this may be used to pay for some or all of the funeral costs. Check their paperwork to see if you can make a claim.

There are various options for people who cannot afford to fund a funeral, including funeral finance and charitable grants. Those on certain benefits may apply for Funeral Expenses Payment or Bereavement Support Payment.

When there is no family to make funeral arrangements, the local council will organise a simple, no-frills public health funeral, also known as a 'pauper’s funeral'.

When attending a funeral, here are some examples of appropriate things you can say to provide comfort and support to the family:

  • I am so sorry. (Name) was loved by so many. I will miss him/her very much.
  • Know that your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
  • (Name) was a wonderful person.
  • I’m always here for you.

Here are the essential elements of funeral planning:

  1. First, determine if there was a will. The executor of the will is usually expected to make the funeral arrangements. Where there is no will, funeral planning falls to close relatives
  2. When someone dies at home, call his or her doctor who will attend to determine the cause of death. If the person died at a hospital or care facility, staff will organise this for you
  3. They will give you the medical certificate in a sealed envelope addressed to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. You’ll also be given information on how to register a death
  4. If the person died in hospital, the body will be taken to the hospital mortuary, where it stays until you arrange to have it transferred to the funeral directors
  5. Determine if the person that died had a funeral plan
  6. Choose a funeral director and meet with them to arrange the funeral. Discuss whether they will have a burial or cremation, the type of ceremony and final resting place
  7. If the deceased will be buried, you will need to purchase cemetery property, so meet with officials to select a grave plot or place for an urn

If you arrange your own funeral ahead of time by taking out a funeral plan, you will often be able to spread the cost over fixed monthly instalments over a specific period or to make a lump sum payment.

With some funeral plan providers, your monthly payments should not rise, even if funeral costs increase in the future. Once paid in full, your funeral plan will cover your chosen funeral package.

If you need to cover the funeral costs of a loved one who did not have a funeral plan, you may ask your chosen funeral director if you can negotiate an instalment plan, although most will ask for full payment up front. 

If someone dies at home at night in the UK, you should try to contact their family doctor or GP who will visit the house and issue a certificate giving the cause of death. If the death was expected, for example due to terminal illness, you may contact the doctor the following morning.  

When looking at who is responsible for funeral costs, you should first see if the person who died has a will. The executor of the will is usually responsible for arranging the funeral. Funeral costs should be first priority before anything else. If there is no will, it is assumed that the family will provide funeral arrangements. In either case, whoever arranges the funeral may pay for it using funds from the bank account of the person who died.

Many banks will release an agreed amount to cover funeral costs. If the person who died took out a funeral plan, this may be used to pay for some or all of the funeral costs. Check their paperwork to see if you can make a claim.

There are various options for people who cannot afford to fund a funeral, including funeral finance and charitable grants. Those on certain benefits may apply for Funeral Expenses Payment or Bereavement Support Payment.

When there is no family to make funeral arrangements, the local council will organise a simple, no-frills public health funeral, also known as a 'pauper’s funeral'.

When attending a funeral, here are some examples of appropriate things you can say to provide comfort and support to the family:

  • I am so sorry. (Name) was loved by so many. I will miss him/her very much.
  • Know that your family are in my thoughts and prayers.
  • (Name) was a wonderful person.
  • I’m always here for you.

Here are the essential elements of funeral planning:

  1. First, determine if there was a will. The executor of the will is usually expected to make the funeral arrangements. Where there is no will, funeral planning falls to close relatives
  2. When someone dies at home, call his or her doctor who will attend to determine the cause of death. If the person died at a hospital or care facility, staff will organise this for you
  3. They will give you the medical certificate in a sealed envelope addressed to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. You’ll also be given information on how to register a death
  4. If the person died in hospital, the body will be taken to the hospital mortuary, where it stays until you arrange to have it transferred to the funeral directors
  5. Determine if the person that died had a funeral plan
  6. Choose a funeral director and meet with them to arrange the funeral. Discuss whether they will have a burial or cremation, the type of ceremony and final resting place
  7. If the deceased will be buried, you will need to purchase cemetery property, so meet with officials to select a grave plot or place for an urn

If you arrange your own funeral ahead of time by taking out a funeral plan, you will often be able to spread the cost over fixed monthly instalments over a specific period or to make a lump sum payment.

With some funeral plan providers, your monthly payments should not rise, even if funeral costs increase in the future. Once paid in full, your funeral plan will cover your chosen funeral package.

If you need to cover the funeral costs of a loved one who did not have a funeral plan, you may ask your chosen funeral director if you can negotiate an instalment plan, although most will ask for full payment up front.