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Registering a death during the COVID-19 restrictions

During the current restrictions, it has become much more difficult to deal with some of the aspects of bereavement that were normally done in person. At the moment, the only way to register a death is by telephone.

When one of your family has died, the hospital or funeral director will be able to let you know the next steps. A relative should register the death. If a relative cannot register the death, it can be done by someone who was there at the time of the death or by a person in charge of making the funeral arrangements for the deceased.

The first thing you will receive is a medical certificate from the doctor who has signed off the cause of death.

This will give you the contact details of the local Register Office that you need to telephone. They will then arrange a telephone appointment with you to take the necessary details to register the death.

You will need the following information:

  • the person’s full name,
  • any names previously used,
  • their date and place of birth,
  • their last occupation,
  • their last address, and
  • the full name, date of birth and occupation of any surviving or pre-deceased spouse or civil partner.

Once the death has been registered, the registrar will post the death certificates to you and this may take a couple of weeks. The cost of a death certificate is £11 and you will be asked to pay for the death certificate by credit card during your phone call. We would normally suggest you ask for four or five death certificates.

The registrar might ask you if you want a code to complete the “Tell Us Once” process online. You ought to ask for one of these because it will help close down and finalise any state benefits, state pension, civil service pension, tax returns and documents like passports and driving licences all in one go.

Once you have registered the death and started to arrange the funeral, you will need to turn your mind to administering the estate and the legal aspects like applying for probate, completing the Inheritance Tax forms and administering the estate. Because you will want focus on yourselves and your loved ones, please contact us to see how we can help take that legal burden off your shoulders.

Please contact either Emma Stewart on 01869 255912, emmastewart@brethertons.co.uk, or Sarah Horton on 01295 661535, sarahhorton@brethertons.co.uk or use our online contact form.

We understand that it seems the extremely personal experience of losing someone who is close to you and managing the necessary official intricacies has inevitably become more impersonal. When we speak to those who have recently experienced a bereavement what can offer most of them a lot of comfort is human contact. In these tough times human contact is not readily accessible, due to Covid-19 we have been denied the opportunity to reach out in the same way.

Tragically relatives and friends have also been denied access to their loved ones during their last days, so at a time when love, comfort and solace may have been offered, families, due to the virus, have been deprived of that opportunity.

Guilt is a major stage in the grief cycle and one might imagine that not being able to offer comfort and love at the bedside of those at the end of their lives, might exacerbate feelings of guilt even though it is no-one’s fault, just one of the effects of Covid-19.

Looking after those who are grieving a loved one seems even more significant currently, if you are in a position where you can speak to them face to face and/or give them a hug then please do so. If that’s not possible, please use whatever form of communication you have available just to be there for them, just being willing to listen, empathise and not be fearful of their sadness would mean a lot.

Equally, we understand that professionals who are involved with bereaved families need to be particularly sensitive during these extraordinary times. We help to make our customers feel that there can still be a personal touch even though face to face meetings aren’t possible. Empathy, compassion and understanding can still be offered over the phone, and we are still here to help you.