Death in the family can leave relatives feeling lost, helpless, and deeply saddened, particularly if you no longer live in the same country as the deceased. No matter if the death was expected or unexpected, the situation can be difficult to come to terms with, and there are several steps you should know about to help your relatives abroad.
Unfortunately, when a death is unexpected, the shock and distress can escalate. In the UK, a legal investigation, also known as an inquest, may take place to see if the death was unnatural, violent, or caused by a third party. The police, coroners and an inquest solicitor, will work together to find out what has happened to your loved one.
Losing a loved one in another country can be an incredibly upsetting time, but there are several steps you must take to report a death and determine whether an inquest needs to be held. In this article, we’ll list these steps, so you know exactly what to do when an unexpected death in the UK occurs…
What Steps Should You Follow When a Relative Dies Unexpectedly?
If your relatives are witness to a death, the first thing they should do is call 999. The operator will advise them on whether the person can be resuscitated and if they can, they’ll talk them through how to resuscitate them. When the paramedics arrive, they’ll either attempt to continue resuscitating or they’ll confirm a death.
If the death is sudden, unnatural, or the doctor/paramedic is unable to determine the cause of death, the police will need to be informed. The police will contact the coroner to move the body, so that a post-mortem can determine the cause of death. There are certain circumstances where the coroner must be contacted immediately; these include if:
- The death was caused by sudden, violent, or unnatural circumstances such as an accident or suicide
- The deceased was not seen or treated by a doctor for the circumstance they died from within 28 days of their death
- The death was caused by murder
- The death was sudden, and the cause is unexplained
- The death was caused by an industrial disease or poisoning
- The death was caused by other circumstances that require investigation
If a post-mortem is required to determine the cause of the death, the coroner will keep you and your family updated with their investigation. When a conclusion has been reached, a Form 100 will be issued. However, if the death is still undetermined, a Form 100 cannot be issued and instead, an inquest is required.
If the post-mortem comes back with inconclusive results and the death was due to a violent or unnatural cause, the coroner is required to hold an inquest into the death. An inquest is a legal investigation that will be open to the public.
An inquest will investigate the evidence surrounding the death and use this to determine the cause. Once the cause of death is determined, the coroner can issue a pink Form 100B with the registrar.
Finding A Funeral Director
Your loved one will need to be taken into the care of a funeral director, so important to find the right company for you and your family. A funeral cannot be arranged till the death has been registered, so if an inquest is required, your funeral plans may have to be delayed or put on hold. It’s a good idea to start working with a funeral director early on to finalise plans and avoid a stressful rush to the UK.
Registering The Death
A death cannot be registered until the inquest is over and the cause has been determined. The coroner will have to write a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death and the death must be registered within the following five days. As mentioned previously, an individual’s death must be registered before the funeral is to be arranged.
Several people may need to be informed about the passing of your loved one, both for personal and business reasons. Friends and family will want to know, and businesses such as doctors, employers, mortgage providers, and HMRC, will need to know to update their records.
Deciding On the Type of Funeral
Often, relatives tend not to talk about the arrangements of funerals, as it’s an upsetting and difficult conversation to have. On some occasions, people will leave their funeral requests in their Will. Although not legally binding, it is thoughtful to closely follow the last wishes of your loved ones, such as how and where they want to be laid to rest.
Arranging The Funeral
If your relative hasn’t outlined how they would like their funeral planned, you will need to decide on the arrangements. There are several tasks that need to be considered when arranging a funeral. These could include:
- The location of the funeral
- The date and time of the funeral
- Whether it will be a religious or non-religious funeral – depending on the deceased’s religious beliefs
- The music that will be played
- The type of flowers that will on show
- If anyone will read a eulogy
- The order of the service – i.e., when the music will be played, when the eulogies will be read, etc.
- Organising a wake afterwards
After Funeral Processes
Unfortunately, the funeral isn’t necessarily the end of the arrangements and other aspects such as their estate and inheritance will have to be looked in.
It’s important to find out if your loved one has a Will and where this has been left. Usually, a Will can be found in the deceased’s home, bank, or with their solicitor or accountant. The named executor on the Will will need to apply for ‘Grant of probate’, or you can appoint a solicitor to do it on your behalf.
How Do You Cope with the Grief of Losing a Relative Unexpectedly?
Grieving a loved one will take time, and everyone heals differently. Make sure to speak to your family and friends in the UK regularly and talk about how you’re feeling. Reminiscing the person and talking about how much you miss them can be painful, but it can help you adjust to not having them in your life. If you’re really struggling to come to terms with the death, seek professional help and contact a therapist to help you through the process.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for advice from a trained legal or medical professional. Be sure to consult a lawyer/solicitor if you’re seeking advice on the law, and be sure to consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you’re seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. We are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information on this site.