Questions you may have

When someone passes away either at home or a nursing home and it was expected, the doctor who has been treating them should be contacted. (If the death takes place out of normal surgery hours then the local on call service should be called instead.) The doctor or a colleague will either attend to confirm that death has occurred, or will give permission for the deceased to be conveyed to a funeral firm’s premises. You are then able contact the establishment of your choice, for this to take place. The doctor will subsequently complete the Medical Certificate of cause of death so that you are able to register your loved ones passing.

If a relative has passed away in hospital the doctors who have been treating them will usually be able to issue the Medical Certificate.
Ask the ward staff or doctor what you need to do to collect this certificate, or give us a call for advice and the relevant contact numbers. Most hospitals will give family members the opportunity to spend some time with the deceased before transfer from the ward or private room. There may even be a chapel of rest at the hospital specifically for this purpose. The deceased will then be taken to the mortuary from where they will be collected by us or your chosen funeral firm.

If the doctor will not issue a Medical Certificate it is usually because they have not seen the deceased in the last 14 days or the circumstances surrounding the death mean it should be referred to HM Coroner for advice or further investigation.

Reasons why the doctor may not issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death:-

  • Has died an unnatural or violent death;
  • Has died suddenly and the cause is unknown;
  • Has died in prison or in such a place or circumstance as to require an inquest under any other Act.
  • If the deceased underwent an operation shortly before death or there is a suggestion of a possible industrial disease.If the death is referred to HM Coroner it is likely their office will arrange for the death to be investigated further and, if necessary, an inquest opened.

The correct title of HM Coroner is – ‘Her Majesty’s Coroner and they each cover the whole or part of a Local Authority area, for example in our locality it is ‘Her Majesty’s Coroner for Sussex East’.

The main duties of the Coroner today are:

  • To investigate all unexpected or sudden deaths,
  •  To investigate all deaths that happen abroad and the body is repatriated to the United Kingdom;
  •  To give permission to remove bodies out of England and Wales;
  • To act for the Crown in respect of treasure trove.

The holder of the post of HM Coroner usually has a legal background and/or a medical background. The Coroner is not employed by the Local Authority, being only answerable to the Crown in the person of the Home Secretary.

The Coroner Service is administered by HM Coroner who is assisted by a Deputy, as the service must be available at all times. In the major jurisdictions HM Coroner may have their own premises for the Court, offices and a public mortuary all in one facility. However, HM Coroners usually are solicitors based at their own offices, making use of the Local Authority or hospital facilities. HM Coroners, are assisted by Coroner’s Officers and normally they are Police Officers seconded to the Coroner Service working on a full-time basis. In practice the office is often held by a retired Police Officer or other civilians with some legal background.

The Coroner’s Officer assists by taking statements from witnesses, carrying out investigations required by HM Coroner, arranging for the removal of the deceased to the appropriate mortuary and generally liaising between the family, pathologist, funeral firm and HM Coroner.
We have a good relationship with the Coroners Officers locally and are familiar with HM Coroner’s procedures and will support you through the process each step of the way.

A deceased person may not be cremated until the cause of death has been ascertained and properly recorded. This includes the cause of death being verified by a second doctor, entirely independent of the first.

The British Medical Association (BMA) website sets out the procedure as follows:-

“Before cremation can take place two certificates need to be signed, one by the GP and one by another doctor. Cremation Form 4 must be completed by the registered medical practitioner who attended the deceased during their last illness. Form 5 must be completed by a registered medical practitioner who is neither a partner nor a relative of the doctor who completed Form 4. A fee can be charged for the completion of both Forms 4 and 5 as this does not form part of a doctor’s NHS duties. Doctors normally charge these fees to the funeral firm, which will then be reflected in your final account. Doctors are also entitled to charge a mileage allowance, where appropriate.

The doctors’ fees are set by the BMA and are reviewed annually.

Making the decision as to who’s services you should employ can be emotional and difficult.

  • Membership of a reputable trade association is highly recommended and as a small, family owned business we are members of SAIF (The National Society of Allied & Independent Funeral Directors.)
  • Ask friends or relatives to recommend a firm that they have dealt with, or have heard positive comments about, or contact solicitors and doctors in the area who will know of local funeral firms.
  • Alternatively, you can research firms in your area by browsing the internet or looking for advertisements and contact them directly.

Here at Hailsham Funeral Service we welcome any enquiries and will gladly help with any questions or concerns you may have. Many of us over the years have lost loved ones and we understand there is no question too trivial or that may seem silly to even raise, only that it matters to you. Ultimately you need to feel confident you can trust us in every aspect of the arrangements and we recognise this is a huge responsibility.

In England and Wales, the death may be registered at any registrar’s office in the county where the death occurred. This is the case even if the death occurred a distance from home. However, there is a facility available to attend your local registrar’s office to register a death that occurred in another area. This is called Registration by Declaration, and involves the two registrars transferring documents by fax and post. Depending on the circumstances, this can delay the date of the funeral however we will help liaise with the Registrars and support you should this be necessary. In Scotland, you can register the death at any registration district.

All deaths must be registered, and the people closest to the deceased person have a legal obligation to do this. Deaths in England and Wales or Northern Ireland should be registered within 5 days – if this is not going to be possible, you should inform the Registrar and you will have a further 14 days to do so.

When registering a death, you will need to take the medical certificate showing the cause of death (signed by a doctor) with you. If available (but don’t worry if not), also take the deceased’s:-

  • Birth Certificate;
  • Council Tax bill;
  • Driving Licence;
  • Marriage or Civil Partnership Certificate;
  • NHS Medical Card;
  • Passport;
  • Proof of Address (i.e. utility bill).

You will need to tell the registrar:-

  • The person’s full name at the time of death;
  • Any names previously used, i.e. maiden name;
  • The person’s date and place of birth;
  • Their last address;
  • Their occupation;
  • The full name, birth date and occupation of a surviving/late spouse/civil partner;
  • Whether they were getting a State Pension or any other benefits.

You should also take supporting documents that show your name and address (i.e. a utility bill) but you can still register a death without them.

When the Coroner is involved, the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death is replaced by one from HM Coroner which is sent directly to the Registrar, the Coroner’s Office will be able to advise you when you will be able to attend the Registrar’s Office to register the death.

In the majority of cases the registrar will then issue:-

  • A Certificate for Burial or Cremation (a green form), which you will need to give to your funeral director.
  • A Certificate of Registration or Notification of Death. (This is a certified copy of the entry in the register.) This certificate is needed in order to claim benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Further copies may be purchased at the time of registration.
  • Leaflets on State benefits and Form 48 (procedure for dealing with Wills).

You do not need to have registered the death to begin making arrangements with your chosen funeral firm. However registration will need to have taken place before the date of the actual funeral.

No, there is no requirement to hold a religious funeral service and there are a number of alternatives. Perhaps a relative or friend could take the service if they feel able to do so. Other members of the congregation could speak or read verses or poems. The British Humanist Association, Institute of Civil Funerals and Fellowship of Professional Celebrants have networks of officiants who will provide a very personal non religious ceremony. Ask your funeral firm for more information.

Any loss is tragic but especially that of a child. Although at the discretion of each individual company, many funeral directors do not charge their normal fees when entrusted with funeral arrangements for a child and this is our policy at Hailsham Funeral Service. There are a number of charities who support families following the loss of a child such as Child Bereavement UK.

There are a number of charities who support families following the loss of a child such as Child Bereavement UK.

“Green funeral” is a term often used to describe funeral services that take a less traditional form and seek to minimise impact upon the world’s natural resources. This may mean choosing a woodland burial ground or selecting a coffin made of materials such as bamboo or wicker. An environmentally responsible funeral need not differ significantly to any other. Woodland burial grounds are cemeteries, often privately run, where strict rules govern what can and cannot be buried. If you are considering buying a grave in a woodland burial ground, you should visit to see whether it is what you expect and ask to see their terms and conditions. We can provide you with information about woodland burial grounds local to you should you require it.

We recognise that funeral arrangements can be costly and we make every effort to be as fair and competitive as we possibly can. We will give you an indication of what the costs of our services are likely to be on our initial contact with you and will happily provide a detailed estimate once we have a clearer understanding of your wishes. Costs often vary from one establishment to another and we would recommend that you contact other funeral firms to compare costs, but be careful that these are like for like and include any third party fees.

Assistance is available from the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Social Fund. This is means tested and to qualify you must demonstrate that you are in receipt of at least one of several qualifying benefits.

The DWP Funeral Payment will provide a limited amount, which may cover a very basic funeral, or provide a contribution towards a more traditional funeral.
Form SF200 can be downloaded from here.

There are occasions when a client may feel dissatisfied with aspects of the services provided as part of the funeral. The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors Code of Practice – with which all SAIF member firms are obliged to adhere – provides a simple procedure to resolve problems between funeral firms and their clients. Copies of the Code of Practice are readily available from all SAIF member firms.