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What to do after a death

Before arranging a funeral

Before arranging a funeral it is important to check if the deceased left any instructions in their Will regarding their wishes. They may have wished to donate organs for transplantation or their body for medical research. They may have indicated their choice between burial and cremation or provided some specific instructions concerning the funeral ceremony itself. Funeral arrangements may have already been made using a pre-payment plan, or Deeds set aside to indicate their ownership of a grave.

If there is a Will, the executor has the right to decide whether the deceased should be buried or cremated (even if the Will expresses a particular wish). If there is no Will the next of kin should decide.

Registering a death

By law, a death must be registered. This is done by the registrar of births and deaths, usually in the district in which death occurred, although it is possible to register the death in another area by declaration.

Please see our page on registering a death for detailed information.

Arranging a funeral

Although the death must be registered and the necessary forms obtained before any burial or cremation can take place, funeral arrangements can begin straight away (if the deceased hasn’t already made these arrangements).

Public health funerals

We make funeral arrangements for anybody who dies within our boundary where no other arrangements are being or are likely to be made, e.g. when the deceased has no family and they haven’t left a Will. This responsibility is placed on the council by S46 of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.

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