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Step by step guide

Our simple, straightforward guide on what to do in the event of a death

Step by step guide

Our simple, straightforward guide on what to do in the event of a death

'Step by step' ~ a practical guide

Our simple, straightforward guide on what to do in the event of a death.


It can be difficult navigating the procedures that must be followed when a death occurs. We understand that for many this process is new to them and even when a death is expected, what to do next can be a daunting prospect. With this in mind, the Little Funeral Company has created an easy to follow 'step by step' guide to support you in alerting necessary authorities and gaining the official documents needed for a funeral to be able to proceed. 

6 step guide to arranging a funeral

Before a funeral can be arranged

Step 1 ~ Certify death


If a death occurs in hospital certification of death will be done automatically, but where a death occurs anywhere else then a medical professional  whether this be a Doctor, Paramedic, District Nurse or other qualified medical practitioner must check for vital signs and certify death. This procedure must be followed even if death appears obvious. As Funeral Directors we are unable to certify death. Where a death has occurred in a nursing /care home then, as in a hospital, this process should automatically be followed. If a death occurs at home then you should call either the GP surgery or 111 and request an ambulance to certify that a death has occurred. 

Step 2 ~ Contact the Little Funeral Company


It is only necessary to contact us at this stage where a death has happened in a nursing /care home or at a private address. Due to the need for further documentation we will be unable to collect your loved one if they have died in a hospital and the death has yet to be registered.

Where a death has occurred in hospital then please speak to the dedicated hospital bereavement team who will advise you about what will happen next.

Step 3 ~ Medical Certificate of Cause of Death


This is not the 'Death Certificate', but it is needed for the Death Certificate to be produced by the Registry Office.

Where your loved one has seen their GP (General Practitioner) within 28 days and has been suffering from an illness which is the likely cause of their death, then normally the GP would be able to issue the 'Medical Cause of Death Certificate.' Under certain circumstances it may be necessary for the GP to consult with the Coroner before being able to issue this.


Where the death has occurred in hospital and the patient has been receiving treatment for a life threatening illness, then the Doctor treating them should be able to issue the 'Medical Cause of Death Certificate.' Where this is not the case then the patient's GP or the Coroner may also become involved.


Where the cause of death is in doubt then it may be necessary for the Coroner to establish this. A 'Coroner's Certificate' may then be issued instead of the standard 'Medical Cause of Death Certificate'.

Step 4 ~ Registration of Death


Once the 'Medical Cause of Death Certificate' or 'Coroner's Certificate' has been emailed to the local Registrar by the issuing Doctor, then an appointment will be needed by the Next of Kin (NOK) to be able to officially register the death.


Under normal circumstances a death should be registered (in England and Wales) within 5 days. Where the Coroner has been involved, this may take longer. If the cause of death requires further consideration then the Coroner may open then adjourn an inquest hearing. This would allow them to issue an interim certificate which would enable the funeral to go ahead. In this instance the death would not be registered in the normal way before the funeral takes place.


A relative of the deceased should register the death. If this is not possible then any of the following can register:

  • Someone who was present at the time of death or who found the body.
  • The person who is arranging the funeral (but not the Funeral Director).
  • The occupier of the premises where the death occurred, if they know about the death.


When registering a death you will need to provide the following information:

  • The person's full name.
  • Any previous names (e.g. maiden name).
  • The person's date and place of birth.
  • Their home address.
  • Their occupation.
  • Whether they were in receipt of a state pension or other benefits.
  • Details of a surviving partner or late spouse or civil partner - full name, date of birth and occupation.


Although there is no cost to register a death, you are charged should you require copies of the official Death Certificate. It is advised that you purchase at least one copy as this will be required by Banks, Building Societies and other services for which any accounts would need to be closed or updated.

Step 5 ~ Arrange the Funeral


If you have not already done so then now is the time to contact the Little Funeral Company. 


At the Little Funeral Company we specialise in offering Direct Cremation services. We are happy to talk to you about the various types of Direct Cremation services that we offer to ensure that this is the right choice for you and your loved one. A Direct Cremation is very different from a more traditional funeral service and it is important that you fully appreciate the differences. A comparision between different types of Direct Cremation and Traditional Cremation can be found here.


At the Little Funeral Company we offer two variations on a Direct Cremation service - an Unattended Direct Cremation and an Enhanced Direct CremationAlternatively, our sister company, A & A Walters Funeral Directors, are able to offer you the full range of traditional funeral related services including fully attended cremation and burial services.

Step 6 ~ Notify Organisations


There is nothing worse than receiving a call out the blue asking to speak to someone who has died. Not only can this be very upsetting, but it can also become a problem where important organisations (particularly financial ones) are not informed that someone has passed away.


We recommend that you use the Government's 'Tell us Once' service to notify the various Government departments. More information about this service can be found here.


You should contact Banks, Building Societies and other financial institutions directly. Many will have a dedicated Bereavement Department or an email address on their website. 

Whether you are looking for caring advice or ready to arrange a funeral for your loved one, we are here to help...

Call us

Dudley - 01384 881508

Sandwell - 0121 387 2593

Wolverhampton & Walsall - 01902 240266

Cookley & Kidderminster - 01562 547722

Our family are here to support you 24/7