When a close relative or friend dies, we know that it can be overwhelming. You may find that you have taken on the care of a relative or friend’s child, which results in you becoming a kinship carer overnight. You may have also been left with the responsibility of organising the relative’s funeral arrangements. Many of our carers are not even aware that they are kinship carers – so what is a kinship carer?
- A kinship carer is a close relative who looks after a child because their parent is unable to or has died. They are sometimes referred to as ‘family and friend’s carers’. While a kinship carer cannot replace a parent who has died, it is possible to create a supportive family structure.
If you have recently become a kinship carer following the death of a relative, you can obtain further information about kinship care and what support is available on our website here.
Working out what to do first when someone dies
Working out what to do first when someone dies can seem overwhelming. Besides letting other family and friends know, there are several organisations you need to notify. We have put this leaflet together for our kinship carers so that you are informed of what you need to do as soon as possible, as well as in the weeks and months after someone dies.
1. Register the death
Within five days for England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and within eight days for Scotland. Depending on which country the deceased lived in, you must register the death:
- in England and Wales, contact the Register Office. Find your nearest register office on the GOV.UK website
- in Northern Ireland, contact the District Registration Office. Find your nearest office on the nidirect website
- in Scotland, contact the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Find out more on the National Records of Scotland website
Registering a death is free. However, to get a certificate you’ll pay £11 in England and Wales, £12 in Scotland or £15 in Northern Ireland.
- You may need to send a copy of the certificate to more than one organisation. The cost does rise if you later decide you want more copies, so it’s worth getting extra copies. This lets you deal with several organisations at the same time, instead of having to wait for your only copy to be returned before you can deal with the next one.
2. Documents required
You need the following information for the person who died:
- medical certificate with the cause of death
- full name, including any previous names – such as maiden name
- date and place of birth
- last address
- full name, date of birth and occupation of their surviving/late spouse or civil partner if they were married.
If available, you should also collect their:
- birth certificate
- marriage or civil partnership certificate
- National Insurance number
- NHS medical card
- proof of address, such as a utility bill
- driving licence
You should also take identification, such as a driving licence, to show proof of your identity.
3. Arrange the funeral
The funeral can usually only take place after the death is registered. You can pay for a funeral director to arrange the funeral or do it yourself.
- You should check if the person who died has made arrangements for their funeral, this could include prepaid funeral plans or life insurance.
Arranging or attending a funeral during coronavirus (COVID19)
The coronavirus outbreak has imposed serious restrictions on funerals, which makes organising a meaningful ceremony seem difficult.
You can obtain full guidance of what to do if you are arranging or attending a funeral during the pandemic here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/covid-19-guidance-for-managing-a-funeral-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic.
There’s different guidance for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, see:
- organising and attending funerals in Scotland
- organising and attending funerals in Wales
- organising and attending funerals in Northern Ireland
If you hire a funeral director, choose a funeral director who is a member of either:
- National Association of Funeral Directors
- The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF)
These organisations have codes of practice – they should give you a price list when asked.
Arranging the funeral without a funeral director
Contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local council if you wish to arrange a funeral yourself.
On average, the cost for a burial is £4,383 and £3,290 for a cremation. There are many things to think about and decide when arranging a funeral, which can be extremely difficult whilst coping with grief.
You can find a breakdown of the costs and a few ways to help you plan a good but affordable funeral here.
Paying for a funeral
You can obtain different options for paying a funeral here.
- You can also apply for a Funeral Expenses Payment if you have difficulty paying for the funeral
Dealing with the persons estate
You might have to deal with the will, money and property of the person who’s died if you’re a close friend or relative, or the executor of the will. You can obtain further information about Wills and Probate here.
Informing government departments
- Passport Office – to cancel their passport
- HMRC – for their taxes
- Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – to stop their State Pension and benefits
- DVLA – to cancel their driving licence, car tax and car registration documents
- Local council – for their Council Tax, electoral register and other housing benefits
- Public sector or armed forces pension scheme for their pension.
‘Tell Us Once’ – is a service that lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go. You can access this service here.
Notifying other departments and organisations
Organisations you might need to contact include:
- housing associations or council housing offices
- mortgage providers
- utility providers.
Grief can be overwhelming – you do not have to deal with it alone. If your family is coping with bereavement, there are a range of different organisations who can provide you with support. Please refer to our website for a list of organisations – here.
Other resources and support
You can find out more about what to do when someone dies by visiting these websites:
For more information on advice and support:
- Visit us at – https://kinship.org.uk/for-kinship-carers/advice-and-support/
- Email us at – email@example.com
- Call our advice line – on 0300 123 7015
This factsheet is for information only and should not be taken as a full statement of the law. Last updated January 2022 Charity number 1093975