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Bereavement Guide

Bereavement Guide

Independent Funeral Directors in Hartlepool

We are here to guide and advise you as much as possible at this sad time.

When Someone Dies

If your loved one passed away at home, the first thing to do is call their doctor who will sign a medical certificate confirming the cause of death. You will also receive a Formal Notice which states that the Medical Certificate has been signed by the doctor and guides you through the steps of registering the death.

If the death happened whilst your loved one was in hospital, a doctor at the Trust will be able to issue the certificate. They will also retain the body of your loved one until we have been able to arrange transfer to our chapel of rest.

In some instances, the coroner may need to be contacted. We can liaise with them on your behalf.

Your Funeral Director

It’s best to contact us as soon as possible following the death, even if you don’t yet have the Death Certificate. We will visit you to assist in making the necessary arrangements, whether the death occurred at home, at hospital, away from home or abroad.

As members of the National Association of Funeral Directors and the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors we are required, among other things, to supply you with a written estimate of funeral expenses prior to the funeral taking place.

Registration of Death

In England, deaths must be registered at the register office within 5 days. It’s best to contact the office closest to the place of death.

To register the death, you will need:

  • the medical certificate of the cause of death
  • the deceased person's medical card (if available)
  • your loved one’s birth and marriage/civil partnership certificate (if available)
  • the date and place of death
  • the deceased's last (usual) address
  • the person's full name at time of death and any names previously used - including maiden surname
  • the deceased's date and place of birth
  • the deceased's occupation and the name and occupation of their spouse, or civil partner
  • the date of birth of the surviving widow, widower or civil partner (if applicable)
  • details of the deceased’s pension or allowance from public funds (e.g. State Pension)

It is advisable to ring the Register Office beforehand to make an appointment.

The Registrar will give you:

The Green Form

This is the certificate for burial or cremation which needs to be handed to the Funeral Director in order for the funeral to be held. If the death was referred to the Coroner, other procedures may apply. The Registrar will explain these to you.

Certificate of Registration of Death

This is for social security purposes. Refer to the information on the back of the certificate. If applicable, fill in the certificate and hand it into Jobcentre Plus or the regional Department for Work & Pensions offices.

You may also be given leaflets about bereavement benefits and income tax for widows/widowers or surviving civil partners, where appropriate.

Slightly different forms and procedures apply if you are registering a stillborn baby (born dead after the 24th week of pregnancy). Your doctor or midwife will be able to give you more information.

The Death Certificate

You may need several copies of the death certificate for the will and the settling of pension claims and personal affairs. Copies may be purchased from the Registrar as required, either at the time of registration or later. A small fee is charged for copies.

Any organisation of which the deceased was a member should be contacted as soon as possible following death, particularly the bank, insurance company, council, and tax office. Copies of the death certificate may be required.


If your loved one died as a result of a natural illness which doctors wish to know more about, they may request your permission to carry out a post-mortem examination. This is a medical examination which should not delay the funeral.

If the death was sudden or unexpected, it may be reported to the coroner by a doctor, or by the Police. In this case, try not to be alarmed, it is simply a legal requirement and the coroner's office should be able to answer any questions you may have. The coroner may be required to carry out a post-mortem.

A death from natural causes will result in the family being informed in order for the death to be registered and the funeral organised. In the vast majority of cases, an inquest is not necessary. If an inquest is ordered, then it will usually be opened and adjourned in order for the body to be released and the funeral to take place.

Who Should Be Contacted

The practicalities which need to be dealt with in the event of a death can be difficult to deal with and process. Do not be afraid to ask family and friends for help.

You may need to write an explanation, including the date of death, in order to return the following:

  • Order books, payable orders or giro cheques
  • Child benefit books
  • Driving licence to the DVLA
  • Vehicle registration documents
  • The membership cards and season tickets for clubs and associations – remember to claim any refunds
  • Passport to the UK Passport Agency
  • National Insurance papers
  • Library books and tickets
  • NHS equipment i.e. wheelchairs, hearing aids or artificial limbs
  • It may be useful to keep a record of pension book numbers and other social security numbers before you send anything back, as these may be needed when completing other forms.

You may need to inform:

  • family members
  • Social Services
  • meals on wheels
  • home help
  • day centre care 
  • equipment on loan
  • hospitals attended by the person
  • the deceased’s employer and trade union
  • the Inland Revenue
  • banks/building society
  • insurance companies
  • family doctor
  • the local council
  • a young person's teacher, employer or educational establishment if a parent, brother, sister, grandparent or close friend has died.
  • car insurance company (if you are insured to drive the car under the deceased's name, you will cease to be legally insured)
  • utilities and telephone suppliers
  • the deceased's mortgage provider, landlord, housing association or the housing department of the local council
  • the Post Office

Type of Funeral Service

The funeral service should express your personal beliefs and the deceased's wishes, religion or beliefs. We can contact the local minister on your behalf, who will usually be happy to attend, even if the deceased had not maintained close links with the organisation concerned.

We can advise you if you would prefer to organise a non-religious ceremony and put you in touch with a local celebrant. Many services now take at the crematorium chapel. Crematorium chapels are non-denominational, meaning you can choose to have a service which is religious or non-religious. 

If you require further assistance from your local funeral directors in Hartlepool, get in touch with Victoria House Funeral Service today. 


For more information, get in touch with us today