Death Registration

One of the most important pieces of document that needs to be obtained for probate is the death certificate. Many institutions will require to see the document before you can carry out any administrative tasks as the executor.

When a person dies, the doctors carry out an examination and issue a medical certificate which outlines the case of death, as well as naming the person who can register the death with the Registrar of Births and Deaths.

How soon does the death be registered?

For England & Wales, the death needs to be registered within five days of the death. In Scotland the period is up to eight days. In either case, the medical certificate obtained from the doctor needs to be taken to the Registrar of Births and Deaths. You may also be required to give the deceased’s medical card to the Registrar as well.

Eligibility for registering the death (England & Wales)

If a person dies in a hospital or at home, the following informants can register the death:

A relative present at the time of death
A relative that visited the deceased during their last illness
A relative living in the same local district as the deceased
A non-related person present at the time of death
A non-related person of authority at the building where the death occurred, (e.g. landlord, warden of a nursing home etc.) as long as they were of the deceased’s circumstances
A resident in the same property as the deceased, as long as they were aware of the person’s circumstances
The person who takes upon the responsibilities of making the funeral arrangements

If a person dies didn’t die in a hospital or at home, the following can register the death:

A relative who can provide the information required by the Registrar
A non-related person present at the time of death
The person who located the body
The person who is responsible for keeping the body (e.g. police, morgue)
The person who takes upon the responsibilities of making the funeral arrangements

Eligibility for registering the death (Scotland)

The following informants can register the death in Scotland:

A relative of the deceased
A related or non-related person that was present at the time of death
The executor or administrator of the estate
An occupier of the same premises as the deceased at the time of death
If none of the above are available, then any person who is able to provide the Registrar with the required details

Information required by the Registrar of Deaths

The birth certificate if available
The time, date and location of death
The deceased’s full name including middle and maiden names
The deceased’s occupation
The deceased’s partner/spouse (either living or dead) name, date of birth and occupation
The deceased’s former partner/spouse name, date of birth and occupation (Scotland)
The deceased’s residential address (if they didn’t die at home)
The date of birth of surviving partner/spouse
The deceased’s parents names and occupations (Scotland)
Documentation of State pension or allowance for the deceased

What next after the death has been registered?

Upon registering the death in England & Wales, you will receive a copy of the death certificate.

In Scotland, you will receive a certificate for the funeral director, a Social Security notification to obtain or adjust any social benefits, and a summarised version of the death certificate.

While each subsequent copy of the death certificate incurs a small cost, it is a good idea to get at least three copies.

You or the executor may be required to send out copies of the certificate to various institutions including banks, businesses, insurance companies, trusts and the Probate Registry (England & Wales) or Sheriff Clerk’s Office (Scotland).

While the certificates may be posted back, it would be a good idea to have several copies in circulation in the interest of saving time.

It is also worth noting, that some offices may charge for extra copies incrementally depending on how long ago the death was registered. Make sure to plan for extra copies ahead of time.