Caven blog

What formalities follow the death of a person?

When someone dies what you do afterwards depends on the circumstances surrounding their death. A death normally needs to be registered within five days. Usually the best course of action when registering a death is to go to the registry office in the area in which the person died.

When registering a death you need to take the death certificate signed by the doctor and other documents such as a birth certificate, or marriage certificate, if they are available. A family law solicitor can explain the procedures you must follow when someone dies.The registrar will need certain information on the deceased including their name, date of birth, previous names, address, occupation and details of any surviving spouse or civil partner. When the death is registered, the person registering the death will receive a Certificate for Burial or Cremation, giving permission for the body to be buried or cremated and a Certificate for Registration of Death. All these documents are needed, as they are part of civil law.

You should not proceed with a burial or cremation until you have possession of these documents. If there is a problem in obtaining these documents, talk to a family law solicitor.

Once the death is registered it is usually appropriate to make funeral arrangements. In some circumstances the funeral must be delayed because of a requirement to do a post mortem or to have an inquest, although this will not usually occur unless the person died unexpectedly. Your family law solicitor can explain these special circumstances and how these could impact on your ability to arrange the funeral for the deceased person.

Before arranging the funeral you should first check to see if there is a will, as people sometimes detail in their will who they would like to arrange the funeral. You should also check that there is money available to pay the funeral expenses, as the person arranging the funeral will be liable for the bill. Any will may also specify any special arrangements that the deceased person would like during or after their funeral has taken place. If these arrangements have a legal element, your family solicitor can offer their help and advice.

If you are responsible for dealing with a person’s assets, you should check whether they held a valid will. You may need to talk to their bank or their solicitor to find the original document. A will must be created in adherence of strict laws and someone will need to check if the will is valid. If there is any property, this will usually pass in accordance with the will where it is possible to do so.

Jointly owned property will pass to the joint owner. A wills and probate solicitor can help with this aspect of the deceased person’s estate.

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