The choice of a firm of funeral directors is important, as you should feel comfortable and confident with them. They may be known to you personally, may be recommended by a friend, your GP or religious advisor or may have a long established good reputation in your area. They are here to help you and your family through a very difficult and traumatic time. You will find them approachable and sincere in ensuring the arrangements that need to be made will run as smoothly as possible. The National Association of Funeral Directors and the Society of Allied Independent Funeral Directors both have a code practice and members of these can provide an estimate of costs - their own and those fees they will pay on your behalf and add to the account.
Your funeral director can make all the arrangements for the funeral, burial or cremation, religious or secular service. Unfortunately it is a common misconception that you can only contact a funeral director once the death has been registered, this is not the case and we advise you to contact the funeral director as soon as possible.
They are professional, experienced and above all helpful and comforting for you and your family at this most difficult time.
Call the funeral directors opposite, who are on hand to help you now.
Legal Advice, Probate, Confirmation?
The process of administering the estate of the deceased person can involve extremely complex legal issues and technicalities. There are a whole host of different legal situations that can arise and this is where the immediate assistance of an experienced legal firm will help. It is of paramount importance that you receive legal advice at the earliest opportunity. The probate specialists will be able to explain things to you in lay mans terms and be able to advise you upon whatever the circumstances of the estate are. Clearly it is also of the utmost importance to families that the estate is administered efficiently and sympathetically as obtaining probate can very often be a very lengthy process, please be aware of this. A specialist within the firm who may also be a STEP consultant, (a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) will be able to help you and will be experienced in assisting families through the process. What if there is no will?
In the first instance call the probate firm opposite today, explain the circumstances and arrange an appointment with them to discuss the situation. It is safer in the long run because of the various laws that affect who is entitled to wind up the estate and receive the money.
Generally the most valuable asset the bereaved will inherit is a property. This will need to be valued for probate purposes to ascertain a correct value, that may well have an impact upon any Inheritance Tax payable. You may wish or need to raise capital against the property to pay care, rest or nursing home fees. Furthermore, after valuation there may be the intention to sell the property and distribute the legacies to the relatives.
You will require the assistance of a local member of either the OEA, Ombudsmen of Estate Agents, NAEA National Association of Estate Agents or RICS Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. They will know the local area well and will be able to provide an accurate, necessary, valuation for an appropriate fee. If they also sell property, the fee paid is normally deducted from any fees due when they have sold the property for you.
Call the firm opposite who will be able to advise you on the next step and who are experienced in dealing with property in probate circumstances for this area of the country.
If you are the ‘executor’ of a will, ‘trustee’ of a trust, or ‘administrator’ of an estate, you may well have a small, medium or large sum of money to deal with. It may just be the case of distributing the sum to the beneficiaries of the estate, for them to do what they want.
However, the beneficiaries may be too young or financially naïve, to know what they should do. They will be looking to you to do what is best for them, and of course you will want to do what is best for them. But how financially aware are you? Do you know all that is available to you in the financial services market?
The answer is probably no.
You may have inherited a large sum of money personally, do you really know what to do next? A new mortgage? A new or larger pension? School fee planning? Investments???
This is where you need the help of a Financial Adviser. They will be able to show you what the most suitable investments for you are and do what is required under guidance from you, explaining things in simple terms. In these turbulent times the need for advice regarding finance has never been more important. Speak to the firm above today, who are qualified and experienced in this field.
Flowers are the most internationally recognised silent symbol of love. At this time undoubtedly every family wants the best for their loved one and the choice of flower, style and colour is enormous.
You may consider many different options for the coffin, cars, church, crematorium and perhaps even dressing the venue for your funeral wake or tea.
This is where a professional local experienced florist can help. They will be able to guide you through the many beautiful designs available, choice of flowers and discuss bespoke arrangements with you, remember, they will have helped many families before and indeed they are here to help you now.
Call the florist opposite today to organise the appropriate funeral flowers.
If the person who died was paying tax on income from investments or as a self-employed person or as an employee, tell the tax office about their death as soon as possible. This will enable the deceased’s tax affairs to be settled. Depending upon the circumstances, this may involve some more tax or claiming repayment.
The particular tax office to contact will depend upon the deceased’s circumstances. For instance:
- If the deceased was an employee or had a pension from a former employer, the pay section of the employer or pension organisation will know the deceased’s tax office.
- If the deceased was self-employed, contact the tax office nearest to the place of business.
- If the deceased was unemployed, or retired without a pension from a former employer, contact the tax office nearest to the home address.
- If the deceased was the owner of a business or Limited Company there could be other implications and requirements that have to be addressed.
We advise you to contact the firm of accountants above as soon as possible, they will be able to assist you with the legalities and complexities of organising the tax and or business interests of the deceased.
Call and arrange an appointment with them now.
There will be many catering options available for the funeral wake or tea and this is where you will require the assistance of an outside catering firm who is experienced in funeral teas.
They will be able to assist you upon the variety of menu choices available, help you plan ahead for the amount of guests who will be attending, discuss costs and generally put your mind at ease with the catering arrangements.
The starting point is to call the catering firm opposite today to discuss your individual requirements.
Funeral Wake or Tea?
These are often necessarily arranged at short notice and there are several areas to consider.
Will you require a large or small venue or room? What choice of catering arrangements? Bar? Disabled access? Car parking? Possibly accommodation for relatives who may have to travel far for the funeral?
A larger hotel or function venue can usually accommodate all of these requirements and will have the experienced staff on hand together with the facilities needed to ensure a dignified time for everyone attending the event. We appreciate this may be a very difficult time for you, please call the venue opposite, they are experienced and will help put your mind at ease with whatever arrangements may be necessary for your family.
Auctioneers & Valuers?
The contents of the property will have to be valued for probate, in some circumstances there will be single or possibly multiple items of great financial value that may have to be valued for probate purposes.
These could include items of jewellery, antique furniture, ceramics, paintings etc. An accurate up to date valuation will need to be obtained for probate, this is where the services of local qualified auctioneers and valuers will be able to help you.
For the appropriate fee, they will be able to provide accurate acceptable valuations for probate and indeed insurance purposes, they may also if required, be able to either purchase or dispose of any unwanted items on your behalf.
Speak to the professionals opposite today for expert advice on what to do next.
If you are considering placing a headstone or an additional inscription upon an existing one, most crematoriums will advise you to wait for a period of approximately six months before placing it.
However we suggest you contact the mason as soon as is convenient to arrange whatever is necessary, to discuss what is available and importantly to avoid any unnecessary delay after this initial waiting period.
Most monumental masons are members of either the National Association of Memorial Masons and or the British Register of Accredited Memorial Masons, who ensure the highest standards of craftsmanship and professionalism within the industry.
We suggest that you use the member firm opposite.
Nursing / Care / Rest Homes?
During this time it may be necessary for a relative to be re-located to either a nursing, rest or care home.
The homes will generally be able to offer short term care commonly called 'respite', or indeed if the circumstances require, long term care to suit your families individual needs.
Remember that these venues facilitate families difficult circumstances continually and will be able to put your mind at ease regarding arranging the care for a loved one.
We suggest telephoning them in the first instance to discuss what options are available to you and to gain a better understanding of the process and costs involved and the facilities that they have to offer.
Many people find that leading upto and following a family bereavement they need to talk through their grief. You may still have many questions which remain to be answered.
Trained bereavement counsellors try to help ease the distress of bereavement through providing a caring and sensitive service.
We realise that at this sad time family and friends would have been too distressed to take in all the information that may have been given to them verbally and may need to discuss their situation with someone who is unbiased and impartial.
The professionals opposite specialise in helping individuals through the grieving process and remember they will have helped many people before.
We recommend that you call them today and see if they can offer you some comfort through this difficult process.
What To Do First
If The Death Occurs In Hospital
If the death occurs in hospital, the hospital staff will contact the person named by the deceased as next of kin. This may be, but need not be, a relative. You may, if you wish, request to see the hospital chaplain. The hospital will keep the body in the hospital mortuary until the executor arranges for it to be taken away. Most funeral directors have a chapel of rest in which the deceased will be held pending the funeral. Hospital will arrange for the nearest relative to collect the deceased's possessions.
If The Death Occurs Elsewhere
If the death was expected, contact the doctor who attended the deceased during their final illness. If the doctor can certify the cause of death he or she will give you the following items:
- Medical Certificate - that shows the cause of death
(this is free of charge and will be in a sealed envelope addresses to the registrar).
- Formal Notice - that states that the doctor has signed the Medical Certificate and tells you how to get the death registered.
You may wish to contact the deceased's minister of religion if you have not already done so. Arrangements for the funeral may be made by a funeral director.
If the death followed illness from HIV or AIDS there may be special rules for handling the body. The following organisations can advise on funeral arrangements:
- London Lighthouse
- FACTS Health Centre
- Terence Higgins Trust
If you discover a body or the death is sudden or unexpected, you should contact the following people:
- the family doctor (if known)
- the deceased's nearest relative
- the deceased's minister of religion
- the police, who will help to find the people listed above if necessary
If there is any reason to suspect that the death was not due to natural causes, do not touch or remove anything in the room. The death may be referred to the coroner. The doctor may ask the relatives for permission to carry out a post-mortem examination. This is a medical examination of the body which can find out more about the cause of death and should not delay the funeral.
Reporting A Death To A Coroner
In any of the following circumstances the doctor may report the death to the coroner.
- an accident or injury
- an industrial disease
- during a surgical operation
- before recovery from anaesthetic
- if the cause of death is unknown
- the death was sudden or unexpected
You will be advised if the death has to be reported to the Coroner, in which case the death cannot be registered nor the funeral take place, without the Coroner's authorisation. Where the death is reported to the Coroner, the Coroner's Office will contact the relatives.
A Coroner can order a post-mortem examination without getting the relative's permission. This will ascertain the cause of death. He may also wish to hold an investigation into the circumstances leading up to the death (this is called an inquest). When an inquest is called, the Coroner's Office will contact the relatives. This should not cause undue stress as it is a legal formality.
In such cases the Death Certificate will be issued direct to you from the Coroner's Office and the relatives must then go to the Registrar to register the death. When an inquest is to be held, the death cannot be registered until the conclusion of the inquest, but a certificate will normally be issued at the opening of the inquest to allow the funeral to take place.
When Does The Death Need To Be Registered?
Normally within 5 days unless the Coroner is investigating the circumstances relating to the death. This 5 day period may be extended to 14 days in certain circumstances.
Who Must Register The Death?
People with legal responsibility to register include:
- A relative
- A person present at the death
- The occupier of the premises where the death occurred if he/she knew of it happening
- The person arranging the funeral. This does NOT mean the funeral director.
(See also the list on the Notice to Informants attached to the Doctor's medical certificate of cause of death).
What Documents Do I Bring To The Register Office?
- The medical certificate of cause of death issued by the doctor treating the person who has died.
This is essential - the Registrar can do nothing without it.
(If the Coroner is involved, the Coroner's Office will advise you what to do).
- The deceased person's birth certificate or passport (if available) can be helpful.
- The deceased person's medical card (don't worry if this is not available).
What Questions Will The Registrar Ask Me?
The Registrar will interview you in private and will need to know the following information:
- The date and place of death.
- The full name and surname, and maiden name if the person who has died was a married woman.
- The occupation and, if the deceased person was a married woman or widow, the full name of her husband.
- The usual address.
- If the person who died was married, the date of birth of the surviving spouse.
- Whether the person who has died was receiving a pension from public funds.
The Registrar will enter all these details in a computer and will then give you the opportunity to check that they are correct. The information will then be written into a register. This is the 'original' legal record and you should check it through very carefully before signing it, as any mistakes discovered later on may be difficult to correct.
What Documents Will I Receive?
- A 'Green Form' which enables you to arrange the funeral
(If the Coroner is involved different procedures may apply).
- You will also be given a form for Social Security purposes.
- Certified copies of the entry ("death certificates") can also be obtained upon payment of the statutory fee.
Where Must The Death Be Registered?
The death must be registered in the District Register Office for the area (town/city) in which it occurred.
For the area of Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent please refer to:
Births, Deaths, Marriages and Civil Partnerships
Kent History & Library Centre
James Whatman Way
Telephone: 03000 41 51 51