Frequently Asked Questions

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What happens when someone dies in hospital?

At the hospital you will directed to a member of staff, usually called the 'patients affairs officer'. This person is responsible for providing you with the Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death issued by the doctor in attendance whilst the deceased was in hospital. They may ask if you have considered whether the funeral will be a burial or a cremation. This is so the relevant papers can be prepared for the funeral director.

From the hospital it is usually best to go on to the registrar before visiting us as this avoids having to make a return trip with the documentation. You may need to make an appointment with the registrar (telephone numbers are further on in this booklet).

What happens when someone dies in their own home?

You will first need to telephone the deceased's own doctor to certify the death. If the death occurs in the evening it is not uncommon for an emergency or locum doctor to be sent. Nothing can be done until the doctor has been, but you are more than welcome to telephone us in advance for any advice or information prior to the doctor's arrival. Whilst the doctor is with the deceased you may contact us to obtain permission for us to collect the deceased and take them back to our chapel of rest.

On some occasions the doctor may have to report the death to the coroner. This will be explained later.

If the doctor did not leave the Medical Certificate of the cause of death you will need to collect it from the surgery before going to the registrar. We are able to advise you on which registrar to use.

What happens when someone dies in a residential or nursing home?

The deceased's doctor will issue the Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death and you will either be able to collect it from the Home or the doctor's surgery.

On collecting the medical certificate of the cause of death you can now go to the registrar for the borough in which the Home lies. It is advisory to telephone first to check whether an appointment is required.

How does one register a death?

Registering A Death When a death occurs in England and Wales (with no coroner involvement) it must be registered within five working days of death in order for any kind of funeral to take place.

Only certain people may register a death including the Next of Kin, persons who lived in the same house as the deceased and those in charge of any institution or home in which the deceased lived. Funeral Directors are not allowed to register the death.

The Registrar will issue various papers:-

  • Certified Copy of an Entry (Death Certificate) - it is recommended that at least four copies are taken as they may be necessary for Banks, Building Societies and insurance purposes. A fee is charged for this certificate.
  • A green certificate - the Registrars Certificate for burial or cremation - which must go to the funeral director for the funeral to take place.
  • Form 344 / BD8 for use with DSS forms. This form stops the deceased's pension and allows payment of widow's benefit, if applicable.
  • When registering it is important to take as much information as possible ie the deceased's medical card and any pension books.
To register the death you will need to furnish the following information:-
  • Date and place of birth
  • Full name of and surname (and maiden name if the deceased was a women who had been married)
  • The occupation (and if the deceased was a married women or a widow, the name and occupation of her husband)
  • The usual address
  • If the deceased was married, the date of birth of the surviving widow or widower.
When the coroner is involved he will give advice on the registration requirements. Local registrars will need an appointment booked in advance. We are able to arrange this for you and provide transport if necessary.

How do I arrange the funeral?

When a death occurs, whether it is at home or in hospital, you will be confronted with the tasks and responsibilities, which may prove complicated and emotionally difficult to perform. At such a time, the person you can rely on to guide you is you funeral director.

We can discuss the many options available to you, and tailor the funeral to suit your requirements.

Can I visit the chapel of rest?

Relatives and friends can visit the Chapel of Rest at any time, although we ask that you telephone prior to your visit.


We are able to arrange for a secular service or any religious denomination and will contact the clergy on your behalf. If however you would like to contact your local parish minister or priest they will be able to give you help and support during and after your bereavement.

Hymns and music

You may decide to sing hymns during the service or perhaps have a favourite piece of music played. Most churches and crematoria have a resident organist and also the facility to play tapes or compact discs. We also have access to many musicians such as harpists and pipers should you wish.

Horse and Carriage, St. Albans Funeral Services

Funeral stationery

We are able to design and produce various types of service sheets and hymn sheets, please ask to see examples.


The beauty of flowers expresses your personal remembrance and acts as a befitting tribute. We are able to arrange flowers on your behalf. We offer all types of tributes, including special designs to meet your particular needs and wishes. We can remove cards from tributes at the end of the service and return them to you to keep. We can also take suitable tributes to a hospital or residential home if so desired.

Obituary and Acknowledgement Notices

We will help and advise with wording of obituary notices and place the notice in the newspaper of your choice. After the funeral you may wish to place an acknowledgement, perhaps thanking people who may have helped you in some way or those who sent flowers or donations. Whatever you require we can ensure that notice appears in the newspaper.

Donations to charity

We can co-ordinate this service for you, which will include receiving all donations, compiling a list of donors for your information and, after four weeks, forward them direct to the charity concerned. You will receive written confirmation of receipt of donations from the charity.

Administration of the Estate

Before the estate (anything belonging to the deceased) can be realised and distributed among the beneficiaries, a grant of probate or Letters of Administration will more than likely be required. Often it will be easier to ask a solicitor or a bank to act for you or a personal application may be made to the District Probate Registry Office.

Probate is required when the deceased has left a Will. Once the Will has been 'proved' before the Probate Registry of the High Court the executors are able to administer the estate.

Letters of Administration are necessary when the deceased has died intestate (not left a Will). Usually the Next of Kin applies to the court to administer the estate. The Court when satisfied that the applicants claim is valid, will issue Letters of Administration appointing the applicant as administrator of the estate.

If the estate is small, it may not be necessary for such a grant. The probate Registry will advise whether a Grant is required.

Certain bills do not require Probate or Letters of Administration, such as the funeral account. Often if there are sufficient funds in the deceased's bank account, the bank will release the funds on production of the funeral account and a Death Certificate.

Inheritance tax

Before probate is granted, any inheritance tax due will have to be paid to the Inland Revenue. This is normally only payable on second death in respect of married couples. In all cases it may be possible to reduce or eliminate the inheritance tax liability. We do have an association with Trust Matters, the company that specialises in this area will be happy to give you one of their brochures or arrange for them to contact you. .