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What should I do if a relative dies at home?

If your loved one dies at home and the death is expected, there are a number of steps which need to be taken, the first of which is to contact the deceased’s GP or if the death occurs out with normal GP working hours then NHS 24 should be notified.

Once a medical professional has verified that the death has taken place then you can contact Browning’s. In addition to calling the doctor, you should also contact any nearest relatives.

If the death was violent, accidental or unexpected– or if there are any unusual circumstances and the cause of death is unknown, the police should be called.

  • They may arrange for the deceased to be transferred to a local mortuary, in order that the Procurator Fiscal can be informed that an unexpected death has occurred. If the death is medically related, then the Police may inform you to contact your own Funeral Director who can attend in the interim period until the GP has confirmed that the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will be certified.

  • Once the death has been certified or verified, you should then contact Browning’s. We will then discuss with you what your wishes are, this is likely to include whether the deceased has to be transferred from the home to Browning’s chapel of rest.

At this stage, you might also want to contact your chosen minister of religion and find out if there is a will and who is responsible for its handling – Browning’s will be able to offer advice on these and any other questions you will have.

Browning’s Funeral Director’s operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and we are available to support you in your time of need. Call us on (01501) 740 234

What should I do if someone dies in hospital?

If you were not present at the time of death, the charge nurse or Police will contact the nearest relative or next of kin to arrange a convenient time to attend the hospital.

  • You may be asked to identify the body, authorise a post-mortem examination (unless the situation requires a post-mortem by law), and provide documents required that enable release of any personal possessions that belonged to the deceased.

  • You may also need to tell the hospital staff of the person’s intention to donate organs, or whether they wanted their body to be donated to medical science.

  • At this stage, Browning’s can be contacted, and we will liaise with the hospital in order to transfer the deceased to our chapel of rest. You will also need to find out if there is a will and who is responsible for its handling. The hospital will tell you when the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death is likely to be available.

The doctor won't issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. Why is this?

  • If the doctor will not issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (Form 11), this is most likely because he or she has reported the death to the Procurator Fiscal for investigation.

  • A death can be reported to the Procurator Fiscal if it is deemed that it was sudden, suspicious, accidental, unexpected or unexplained – or the circumstances in which it occurred give rise to serious public concern.

What does the Procurator Fiscal do?

The Procurator Fiscal is tasked with investigating all sudden, suspicious, accidental, unexpected and unexplained deaths and deaths that give rise to serious public concern. The Procurator Fiscal will investigate the circumstances of the death in an attempt to establish the cause before considering whether criminal proceedings or a Fatal Accident Inquiry is required. 

Whilst deaths are normally referred to the Procurator Fiscal by the Police; the Registrar, GP’s or hospital Doctors, who has concerns about the circumstances of a death can make a report. The Procurator Fiscal may investigate any death brought to his or her notice.

  • The Procurator Fiscal’s first priority is to establish the cause of death. Police officers will interview relatives and any other associated people in order to gather this information. Sometimes a post-mortem examination will be required. This could be where Doctors are unable to issue a death certificate, or where criminal proceedings or a Fatal Accident Inquiry might be considered. In this instance, no consent is required from next of kin or nearest relatives.

  • Post-mortem examinations usually take place within a few days of the Police providing the Procurator Fiscal with the information they require. Infant and child deaths usually result in a greater likelihood of the Procurator Fiscal requesting an examination. The Procurator Fiscal should be informed of any objections, be they cultural, religious or other, as soon as possible. However, legal reasons might make the post-mortem unavoidable.

The Procurator Fiscal’s investigations are usually complete once a death certificate has been issued but occasionally further enquiries may be required.

A death may be registered by any Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in Scotland and Browning’s will be able to advise of their address and contact details. Note, it may be necessary to make an appointment with the Registrar.

When you register a death, you will need to take with you the following documents:

  • Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (Form 11)

  • Any certificate or document relating to any pension, benefits or allowances in which the person was in receipt

  • NHS medical card, if available

  • The person’s birth and marriage or civil partnership certificates, if available.

  • It may also be helpful to take such information as the deceased’s National Insurance number, Driving Licence or Passport as the Registrar will be able to cancel these through their Tell us Once service.

You will need to register the death before the funeral takes place but it is perfectly okay to begin making arrangements for the funeral with Browning’s.

A death must be registered with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages within eight days, although the authorities prefer that it is done sooner, if possible.

Each day in Scotland a random selection of Medical Certificates of Cause of Death are subject to scrutiny in order to monitor the quality and accuracy of the certificate.

  • In this instance a Medical Review will take place, this is conducted by a team of Medical Examiners and will mean that the Registrar may not be able to complete the Registration at the time you visit.

  • Additionally, any death that occurs in Scotland must be registered in Scotland regardless of the person’s usual place of residence.

Upon completing the registration of death process, the Registrar will give you:

  • A Certificate of Registration of Death (Form 14). This form is to be given to Browning’s so that the funeral can go proceed.

  • A form 334/SI, “Registration of notification of death” for use in obtaining or adjusting Benefits or for National Insurance purposes.

  • On payment of the appropriate fee, an extract of the entry recorded in the Register of Deaths. 

  • This might be required in order to acquire information about the person’s assets, such as pension, insurance policies, savings and Premium Bonds.

Who will lead the funeral service?

Faith-led funerals form the majority in Scotland, however there is no legal requirement to hold a religious service and there are a number of alternatives. Perhaps a relative or friend could take the service if they feel able to do so. Other members of the congregation could speak or read verses or poems.

  • Additionally, the British Humanist Association, Institute of Civil Funerals and Fellowship of Professional Celebrants have networks of officiants who will provide a very personal non-religious ceremony.

Can I get any assistance with funeral costs?

Financial assistance is available from the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Social Fund for individuals who meet the criteria. To qualify you must be receiving at least one of several qualifying benefits and have insufficient savings to pay for the funeral.

  • The DWP Funeral Payment will provide a limited amount, which may cover a very basic funeral, or provide a contribution towards a more traditional funeral. Browning’s can advise you about the qualifying criteria and the likely contribution available.