Frequently Asked Questions


Should family discuss matters in advance of an expected death?

Yes, this is often a difficult topic to discuss and may have certain traditional taboos associated with it. However, you should discuss and agree (as early as possible) on how to manage the situation. Where possible include the family member who is ill/frail so their wishes are taken into account regarding issues as place of death, resuscitation status, burial arrangements etc. Where they lack capacity, decisions should be made in the best interest of the family member rather than personal opinions. By having a clear plan of action, care will be better coordinated, and this may also prevent additional stress at the time of death.

Should there be a written statement prepared for the family in advance?

It is better to prepare a written directive. Having an agreed signed written statement, you can ensure your family member’s wishes are acted upon and all family members are clear on what to do in the event of a death, thus avoiding family disputes and confusion after death. This is not a legally binding document but expresses wishes of the person which others should try to adhere to or if they lack capacity provides agreement amongst the family and clear instructions of what to do.

Should GP be consulted in anticipation of death?

With regular contact with their GP (either by face to face or video consultations or home visits) you can ensure the family doctor is aware of their medical condition. This will allow them to issue a death certificate rather than having to discuss the case with the coroner which potentially could lead to an unnecessary post mortem. The current law states that a doctor needs to see the patient within a 28 days period prior to death to avoid having to contact the coroner in an expected death at home.

How can you avoid a Post Mortem?

Only around 40% of all deaths reported to the coroner are sent for a post mortem. However some of these are unnecessary and can be avoided if simple steps are taken by the family beforehand. There will, of course be circumstances where a post mortem has to be undertaken. The family have the right to object to a post-mortem by informing the coroner. There are also ways to speed up the process on religious grounds. An alternative to the general post mortem is a non-invasive post mortem by using a CT Scan thus avoiding unnecessary opening up of the body. You can make a request for this by informing the coroner. Click here to see more

What is Palliative Care status?

When a patient is expected to die in the near future (either because they are terminally ill or very frail), you can ask the GP to add them to a palliative care register and update their medical notes. You should keep evidence of this at home, in the form of a care plan or a do not resuscitate (DNR) certificate. This can help to avoid a post mortem and make the certification of death quicker.

How do I prepare in case anything happens to my elderly relative?

If you have an elderly relative who you believe may be nearing the end of their life, there are some practical steps you can take to make it easy for them and the rest of the family in the event that they pass away. These steps will ensure that: Their last moments are coordinated with the health care profession The family are involved in important decisions You minimize the need for a post-mortem Funeral arrangements are properly understood and agreed

Who should confirm death?

Medical professionals such as doctors, nurses or suitably trained ambulance clinicians may confirm that death has taken place. The law requires that a qualified doctor (with the GMC) who has seen the patient alive within the last 14 days and knows the cause of death provide the cause of death for the MCCD (Medical Certificate Cause of Death). There is no legal obligation on a doctor to see or examine the deceased before signing an MCCD. This is the case across the UK.

How do I register the death?

The MCCD (Medical Certificate Cause of Death) is given to the next of kin who is required to deliver it to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages within five days. In the absence of a next of kin, the following can register the death: A relative Someone present at the death An administrator from the hospital The person making arrangements with the funeral directors This can also be emailed directly by a hospital (bereavement office) to the Registrar instead of being given to the next of kin.

Which certificates are required and why?

The next of kin (or person arranging the funeral) needs to obtain the A Certificate for Burial or Cremation (sometimes called the Green Burial form) in order to perform the burial through the funeral director. The family (or person looking after the affairs of the deceased) will need the Certificate of Registration of Death (for Social Security and probate purposes). These are provided by the Registrar (at the council office for Registration of Deaths). If the Registrar decides that the death does not need reporting to the Coroner he/she will issue: A Certificate for Burial or Cremation (or Green Burial form) A Certificate of Registration of Death (On request), certified copies of the Death Register (at least two copies advisable because banks and insurance companies expect to see them)

Which forms do I need to complete?

In order to obtain the Certificate for Burial or Cremation (or Green Burial form) and the Certificate of Registration of Death, you will need to provide the Registrar (at the council office for Registration of Deaths) with information about the deceased usually supplied on the Registrar’s Information Request form.

How does the burial take place?

The body is buried and there is no cremation at all. First the grave is dug by the Funeral and Burial Services. The body is brought to the grave and is gently lowered into the grave by the close family members and then covered by timber sleepers and eventually covered by soil. The initial filling is done by the family and mourners who wish to do this using shovels or even hands. The balance is filled by the machinery. The body of the deceased MUST always be buried directly on the ground. The deceased is usually laid in the ground and slightly tilted towards the right and the body faces towards the direction of the Qibla

Where does the funeral prayer take place?

This can take place either in the main section of the mosque, or in an ‘annex’ referred to as the ‘sehan’, or in an open courtyard, or the car park to accommodate the congregation or at the cemetery before burial.


Advance directive

A document recording someone’s advance wishes for end-of-life care, if they become unable to state their own wishes at the time

Advance Planning

Act of making arrangements a funeral or other service/plans prior to death. Advance Planning can involve simply recording one’s wishes or making financial arrangements


The act of placing a body of someone who has died in a grave

Burial plot

An area of a cemetery reserved in advance by a person or family, for burial when they die


Area of land for burials, cemeteries may be privately or publicly owned


Person responsible for investigating the circumstances of someone’s death if the cause or identity of the person are unknown.


Process of preserving the body of someone who has died before the funeral


Everything owned by a person at the time of their death, including finances, property and personal possessions

Funeral Service

Services which may be used to care for and prepare human remains for burial, may also include the arranging, supervising or conducting the funeral ceremony


Washing and dressing a deceased person


Vehicle specially designed to carry a coffin or casket in a funeral procession


Investigation by a coroner if the cause of someone’s death, or their identity, is unclear


Dress/Cloth that is used to wrap and cover the deceased body


A room, usually in a hospital or funeral home, where the bodies of people who have died are kept and cared for before they are collected for their funeral