What to do when someone has died

When a person dies in hospital

The steps to take once a person has died depend on where and how the person has died. The pages within this section provide details for different situations. 

When a person dies in hospital

The hospital staff will contact the next of kin to formally identify the person. The next of kin may also need to give permission for a hospital post-mortem examination if the cause of the death has to be confirmed; however, a coroner's post-mortem examination may be carried out without consent.

The body will then be laid out and kept in the hospital mortuary until you (or another appointed person) arranges for the funeral directors, family or whoever you chose to collect it. If you choose, funeral directors will take the body to their chapel of rest until the funeral takes place. If the person who has died has left directions as to their care you may take them into account.

In most situations, nurses lay out the body but it may be possible for you to help if you so wish.  More information on this is available in our section on 'Carrying out the arrangements yourself when someone has died'.

Staff in the hospital or care home will keep safe the possessions that the person who has died had in hospital until the person administering the estate arranges for them to be collected. They will issue a receipt when the possessions are collected.

A doctor at the hospital will give you a medical certificate that shows the cause of death.  If the deceased is to be cremated, let the doctor know. Once the medical certificate has been issued to you, you can register the death. You must register the death within five days.