What should I do when death occurs?

Expected death – This information is for guidance only

At Home
  • Contact the deceased’s doctor to confirm death has occurred.
  • Once the doctor has given permission to move the deceased, you may contact us on 01435 862648 and we will aim to be with you within 1 hour, to move the person who has died into our care.
  • The doctor will issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death to the family representative for registration purposes.
  • Make an appointment at a Registry Office in the county that the deceased has died in order to register the death. Take with you:
  1. the Medical Certificate provided by the Doctor
  2. some money to obtain the necessary death certificates that will be required to administer the estate
Nursing Home
  • If a resident dies in a nursing home the GP or qualified nurse on duty can verify death.
  • Most nursing homes will record the resident’s wishes on their care plan. This will also specify the chosen Funeral Director and if they are to be cremated or buried.
  • With the family’s and doctor’s permission, the deceased can be transferred to the Funeral Director’s care.
  • If the resident’s wish is for a cremation, two GPs will need to complete the cremation certificates.
  • If the resident is for burial or cremation the GP will issue a death certificate for the family/representative to collect to allow them to register.
  • Make an appointment at the Registry Office to register the death. Take with you:
  1. the Medical Certificate provided by the Doctor
  2. some money to obtain the necessary death certificates that will be required to administer the estate

If death occurs at the hospital, then the Doctors and Nurses will liaise with the hospital Bereavement Office, who will arrange all the appropriate paperwork on your behalf. You should notify the Bereavement Office Team, which funeral director you have appointed and once the formalities have been completed, the funeral director they will notify the funeral director when it is appropriate to collect the deceased.

Unexpected Death

If a death is unexpected then dial 999 and request an ambulance and police immediately, explaining the circumstances. In the event of an unexpected death occurring, then a coroner may become involved and may order a post-mortem to be carried out to establish an accurate cause of death. The coroner’s officer will keep you informed should this be the case and will liaise with us.

Registering The Death

  • Where the death is expected it must be registered within 5 working days.
  • Registration of the death should take place at a Registrar Office in the county where the death occurred.
  • Please click here to find the name and address of the Registrar Office closest to you.
Who can register?
  • A relative
  • A person present at the death
  • The occupier (i.e. Matron, superintendent)
  • Person causing the disposal of the body

Call the registry office to make an appointment – you will need to take the following with you:

  • Death Certificate
  • Medical card if available
  • Birth certificate & information regarding date of birth (if available)
  • Some money to pay for copies of the death certificate required to administer the deceased’s estate.
Information Required to Register

The Registrar will ask for the following information:

  • Date and place of death
  • Full name of deceased (maiden name if applicable)
  • Date and place of birth
  • Occupation and home address
  • If married, full name and occupation of surviving spouse.

The registrar will then issue you a green form which you should give to the Funeral Director to progress with the funeral arrangements.

Where Can I Register?

Please click here to find details of your local Registrar Office.

Does the body need to be moved by a Funeral Director?

No. It is possible to keep the body at home, provided registration of the death takes place within 5 days. However, the length of time the body may be kept at home may vary and you may need the technical support of your local funeral director if you are to consider this.

How soon can the funeral take place?

In most cases, you should allow 7-10 days to make all the arrangements and notify family and friends. In particular circumstances, it may be necessary to complete the funeral within 24 hours of the death. Either way. We will endeavour to work to your timescales and will support and advise you in your decisions.

Burial or Cremation?


Approximately 75% of funerals in the UK involve cremation and in the majority of cases, this tends to be less expensive than the burial options available. Each cremation is carried out individually and the coffin is cremated with the deceased. The cremation process is strictly regulated requiring the crematorium to always have full control of who is being cremated and therefore label cremated remains correctly. Generally, the cremated remains (often referred to as “ashes”) are available within 24 hours and we would usually collect these for you, pending your decision on their final place of rest.


There are three general options surrounding burial; in a churchyard, in a civil cemetery or in a natural burial ground. The regulations are slightly different for each one and are explained below.


The deceased will usually need to have resided/died in the parish to qualify to be buried in a churchyard. Under certain circumstances the minister may consider burial of someone not living in the parish. It is not generally possible to pre-purchase or reserve a burial plot in a churchyard and no grave deed is issued, as the plot remains the property of the church.

You should be aware that the rules and regulations concerning certain types of memorials/headstones allowed in churchyards are different and are often restrictive.


Graves in cemeteries may be purchased before death or at the time of death and this usually confers an exclusive right of burial for a period of time (either indefinite or 99 years).

Extra fees may be payable if the person who has died was residing outside the parish and these can become very expensive at either double, treble, quadruple or even five times the normal fees for a parishioner, depending on the cemetery concerned.

Cemeteries are more flexible on the type of memorial/headstone you can have and this generally will allow a much wider choice on the type and size of stone, style and colour of font for engraving and the colour of the stone itself.

Woodland/Natural Burial Ground

All coffins must be made of natural bio-degradable material and Embalming is not permitted.

There are three main burial grounds in this area of East Sussex:

  • Hastings Woodland Natural Burial Ground
  • Clayton Wood, West Sussex
  • Heathfield & Waldron Burial Ground (from 2013)
  • Hawkhurst Woodland Burial Site (for Hawkhurst residents only)

Please refer to our website page THE GREEN FUNERAL for more information.

Can I bring in clothing for the deceased to be dressed in?

Yes, of course you can, or we can supply a satin or cotton gown.

Can I help prepare the deceased?

Yes, certainly. You are welcome to be involved in the washing, dressing and preparing of your loved one, if you wish.

May we put some personal items in the coffin?

Yes, you may. However, certain items are not permitted in the coffin during the cremation process, so may have to be removed prior to the funeral taking place.

Embalming what is it and is it necessary?

It is the process of removing the natural fluids from a body and replacing them with a preservative fluid, through the vascular system. In some cases, embalming is necessary, such as if the body is to be kept for a long time before the funeral, if the body is to be exported by air or sometimes, if the deceased is to be viewed by family or friends. In other cases, embalming cannot be undertaken, such as if the deceased is to be buried in a natural burial ground. In any event, we do not undertake embalming unless the person instructing us has given their permission.

May I come to see the deceased?

Yes you may. The person instructing us in the funeral arrangements will usually advise us who may come to visit the deceased in our viewing room and we will advise accordingly.

Do I have to have a religious ceremony?

No you do not, although most funeral services in the UK follow traditional religious practices of one form or another. Please visit our LINKS page for contact and website details of a range of faiths.

You may also wish to have a secular or humanist service, to celebrate the life of the person who has died, their loves and achievements. We can assist you in identifying a suitable celebrant to take the service, or the family may wish to lead it themselves.

Do we have to use a black hearse?

No, you do not. We can arrange a variety of alternative ways to convey the coffin. Or if you simply prefer something discreet, we can transport the coffin in one of our Subaru estate cars. Please look at OUR VEHICLES page for more information.

Can family and friends carry the coffin?

Yes they can, either on their own or together with our team. We would brief anyone who wished to do this so they know what to expect. We would be on hand to assist on the day of the funeral.

How much will it all cost?

Funeral costs are made up of two types of charges; the funeral director’s fees and the disbursements that we initially pay on your behalf. (crematoria charges, church charges, minister’s charges, etc.) When arranging the funeral, we will at a very early stage fully itemise these costs and provide you with a written estimate, so you know exactly what everything will cost. The style of the funeral, choice of coffin, choice of vehicles, flowers, etc. will all have an influence over the final costs of the funeral.

Do you require a deposit?

Yes we do, towards the disbursements, usually payable when the arrangements are made, before the funeral has taken place. An invoice for the balance of the funeral account is sent after the funeral has taken place to the person who has signed our quotation and accepted responsibility for the funeral expenses.

Is there any help towards funeral expenses from the Government?

Yes, in certain conditions. You may qualify for a Social Fund Funeral Payment which will help towards the funeral expenses. This payment is currently not large enough to cover the entire funeral expenses. More information can be obtained by clicking this link: