What to Do When Somebody Dies.

Introduction: What to Do When Somebody Dies.

At some point your parents will die.

If you are a named executor it means that you take care of everything that has to be arranged.

This may help anyone faced with the same situation to prepare for what is in store.

I'm  from the UK and the steps will be different elsewhere  and I can only comment on the route that I have taken which is a traditional funeral.

Here is a start   ;


Step 1: Death Certificate.

After death the first step is collecting the death certificate.

If the death happened in a Hospital or Hospice getting the certificate is simple; It just has to be collected but there are two pieces of information that you will need to impart:

-The name of the Funeral Director that you have chosen ( you do not need to use a Funeral Director but I only know this route).
-Whether you want a burial or cremation ,(this is because of the antics of Harold Shipman); we chose a cremation.

Once you have chosen a Funeral director, they will pick up the body within 45 minutes.

Step 2: Visiting the Funeral Director.

At this meeting you will need to decide:

- The coffin from a range of options.
- How many Limousines you will need ( each one seats 7 people).
- Where you want hearse to leave from. ( the deceased's house , your house, etc )
- Whether the Limousine will follow the hearse or meet it at the crematorium.
- Whether your family wish to bear the coffin or use the Funeral director's bearers( these will be on standby anyway, in case anyone falters).
- You also are put into contact with a choice of ministers who will conduct the service.
- The date that you wish to have the funeral.

At this time you can also leave the clothes that you wish your deceased to be buried in ( and their make-up ) with the Funeral director.

They will also take care of the obituary notice in the local paper ( with your wording and chosen photograph ).

They will tell you options on buying flowers ( There is a protocul that is sometimes chosen where, in the obituary, you state that this funeral will accept family flowers only but donations to a charity are welcomed.)

They will also suggest venues for the refreshments event afterwards ; I will call it ' the reception.'

You also discuss and order of service; this is sent or given to those present at the funeral; it contains literally the order of the service; the the words to the hymns , photographs, poems etc; 

You can have a printer compose the above layout , which is quite expensive and by the look of the examples she showed us, poorly executed.
You can design your own; I'm going to give it a go myself on Photoshop.

She also talked about using a solicitor; you do not need to if the will is straightforward and you are willing to invest the time.
This process is called probate which means - the right to deal with the deceased persons affairs.

There is no hurry to decide what to do with the ashes. They are kept in a cardboard box held by the Funeral Director, until you decide whether to inter, scatter, bury under a tree, shoot into space etc.  

Step 3: Um... Incidentals

Through the Funeral Director you will have to arrange a meeting with a minister.

Also the death certificate has to be registered within 5 days ( the Funeral director will tell you where to go).

The copies are £3.50 each; Buy at least 6 copies.

These copies are needed to cancel bank accounts and anything else that requires verification.

Also, on registration, you are given a Pea-green form called the Green form; this has to go to the Funeral director or everything will grind to a halt.

You have to ring and cancel any medication that the deceased was automatically receiving.
( ideally you take the unused medication to a chemist or pharmacy who will dispose of it safely).

You have to ring and cancel your deceased's pension. ( It was easy, they were very nice and helpful. )

You have to empty your deceased's's fridge, take their plants and pets away, unplug everything, re-direct the mail and tell the neighbours to be aware that the house should be empty.

Re-directing the mail the entails going to the Post Office with a copy of the death certificate, the deceased's utility bills/passport, your ID/utility bills and then filling in a form and paying £50; this lasts for 1 year.

You will will at some point in the future:

- ring and cancel any relevant direct debits.

- ring and inform the council tax authorities.

Other things to be done are clear the house, contact all the DVLA, all the different banks and insurers.

Contact the Motor insurance company to transfer the insurance; you need the original policy, death certificate and your details.

Step 4: Friends and the Funeral.

You will have to go through the deceased's phone book and ring her friends.

People will be shocked, people will cry on the other end of the line; it won't be nice.

Step 5: The Will.

The deceased should have made a will ; this this usually be  stored with that company.
You contact the Will Company and  send them the death certificate. 
We have had problems due to improper practice but that's another story.

Step 6: The Reverend, the Reception, the Flowers, the Printers, the Slideshow.

The Reverend-
She will go through the order of service.
i.e. Welcome, Opening Prayer, Family tributes, Hymn,  bible reading , commendation, Commital prayer, blessing.

She will explain it all; she will also goes through what the person was like, any particular memories, if you would like to speak.
and what music you would like played.

These events are strictly timed; usually between thirty to forty five minutes long.

The Reception-
A venue will supply the food, beverages and alcohol.

The Flowers-
Order flowers from a local shop; this is straightforward and the flowers are sent on to the Funeral Director.

The Printers-
A Photoshop document is acceptable; 300dpi is a sufficient resolution.

Composing the order of service can be done by the printer but it will not be as easy to tweek it or as personal.

A projector can be hired to show a loop of  slides at the reception; or a large Television.

Using a DVD player is  the simples option.

Use a programme like idvd to create and burn a slideshow onto a DVD.

It is very easy to do.

Step 7: The Funeral.


You get in the Limo.
You go into the crematorium chapel.
You sit through the funeral service.
You come out to look at the flowers and talk to the mourners.
You are driven in the limo to the reception.
The mourners follow.
You eat, drink, small-talk and eventually just the family and two hundred sandwiches are are left.

Step 8: After the Funeral.

We will at some point have to contact a solicitor or apply for probate . . .I will update this when I know more.

um ... that's about it.

Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.  ~Alice Walker

Step 9: Forms. IHT205(2006)

You usually need a grant of representation to get access to most of the assets in the deceased's estate. The most common types of grants are:

-A grant of probate, where the deceased left a Will.
-A grant of letters of administration, where the deceased did not leave a Will.

Both types are referred to as ' probate'.

Befrore you can get a grant, you need to pay any Inheritance Tax that is due, or show that none is due.
For most estates there is no tax to pay ( ours), and you need only fill out form IHT205(2006) , shown in the photographs.

They have not come out too well, due to Instructables resolution; here is the link to the official PDF


Step 10: Form. Probate Application- PA1

Step 11:

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    3 Discussions


    7 months ago

    Thank you for this guide. My wife died 2 years ago, she was 33. I live in the US. While your experience was completely different from mine, I'm grateful for it. Maybe I'll write one relevant to those in the US.
    I thought this might be instructions on grieving, but there is so much that happens around a death. This is very useful.
    Luckily there are a lot of people who sympathize with pain (especially in my case, they were eager to help me and my children). Let people help, it's good for you and them.

    Dream Dragon
    Dream Dragon

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Bizarrely I'm reading this to kill time before I go to a funeral myself. I sympathise with your loss. Fortunately I've never had to deal with the forms and such, but this looks like a very complete and useful guide.

    I particularly like the way that only close family and about two hundred sandwiches remain, it's quite true.

    I'd be interested to know about your experience with the "Probate" since that is reputed to be complex and difficult.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Dear Dreamdragon,

    Believe it or not I've waited to reply to you until all my paperwork was done.

    To me probate seemed relatively straight forward, ( if there is a Will it helps tremendously).
    It simply means becoming an Executor and getting a grant of representation; this involves filling in a form and waiting six weeks and then attending a five minute interview in Birmingham.

    Our delay was due to difficulties with the Work and Pensions department which stretched out the paperwork until now.

    Kind Regards