First List of Actions

When someone dies, your reaction is often unexpected. Sometimes the death may be expected, but nothing prepares you for the emotional shock of losing someone close. Staff at family-run and managed Harold Wood Funeral Services have spent seven decades helping families to organise funerals. We have made it easy for people to be listened to and receive advice about the arrangements when needed.

You can telephone us at any time, or visit us in person during working hours at one of our four offices (including on a Saturday morning). Please let us know before if you can which office you would prefer to use.

On first getting in touch with us there will be a few basic questions to go through. If the Deceased has died at home or in a residential home we can organise the immediate transferral of that person into our care. (If the death happened in a hospital this may take a few days.) During office hours we can help you make detailed plans, give you an accurate detailed estimate for services requested and produce paperwork for signing.

Who can make funeral arrangements and when?

The date of the funeral and other provisional arrangements can be made at your earliest convenience, before registration. They are often made by the next of kin, or an executor of a Will if one exists – but for the funeral to take place, registration and funeral paperwork has to be in place some days before the funeral. Usually the next of kin will register, or if not possible, somebody else by arrangement with the Registrar (see further on).

When death has occurred in hospital

If death was expected, usually the next of kin or other responsible person will contact the Hospital Bereavement Office in working hours for the Medical Cause of Death Certificate.

This is taken to the local Registrar in the area where death occurred, who will then issue copies of  Death Certificates (more details in further pages).

The hospital needs to know if a cremation will be taking place for particular forms to be filled in.  Usually we are permitted to take the Deceased into our care after death registration, during working hours.

– If the death was not expected, there will be Coroner’s involvement. If a Coroner is involved it is often for only a few days, during which time the Coroner’s Officer keeps relatives informed of the situation.


If the death has occurred at home or in a residential home

Call your GP who must be informed to arrange a visit immediately to confirm death. The doctor may be a locum.

Please then telephone us to let us know that you have called the GP.

After the visit and with the GP’s permission please then telephone us again to ask us to bring the Deceased into our care.

The GP will request that you collect the Medical Cause of Death Certificate from the surgery, often the next working day, to take to the Register Office.

– If however death was not expected, or the GP had not seen the deceased in the last fourteen days, then the Deceased may be taken into the Coroner’s care to investigate the cause.

The doctor’s Medical Cause of Death Certificate has a number which must be quoted if you have to make an appointment to see the Registrar.

• If you have chosen to arrange a cremation then the GP has additional paperwork to complete we request on your behalf. The Deceased’s GP may contact you again to confirm circumstances of the cause of death, and additionally you will receive a second independent GP’s call to confirm the same. This is nothing to worry about, just a legal necessity.

If the death has occurred elsewhere

Eg outside of home or hospital in the UK, or abroad.  We can provide advice and help arrange the funeral.

An Inquest

In less common circumstances, when a death occurs and the causes are not easily established, a Coroner’s inquest may be necessary. The Coroner can open an inquest and adjourn to a later date. The Coroner will then release the Deceased to enable the funeral to take place.