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Are You the Next of Kin? Death of a Loved One? Which Way Now!

Updated on October 2, 2017

It is a deeply emotional time.  You are the next of kin and you have been given some grave news about the death of a loved one.  Wrapped in grief and disbelief you are confused.  So, which way now?  This is a good question.  How do you untangle the new information from the practicalities?  This article is an extension to Dealing With Death? Arranging the Funeral? Can't Cope? Help Is Here!  Click here to read. This 'Which Way Now’ guide aims to help you through a difficult time.  The practicalities of the death of a loved one can throw up all sorts of problems.  As next of kin, you need to understand the system, practices and procedures surrounding the death of a loved one. It is aimed to give direction to the next of kin.

It all gets confusing - the medical death certificate, death certificate of burial and cremation. We may also be confronted with terms like: county coroners, cause of death and post mortums! All these terms may be difficult to understand and it is the next of kin who is supposed to be in the know!  So which way now? 

Coping with the death of a loved one and making the necessary arrangements is the responsibility of the next of kin.   The most important thing here is support when dealing with this, whether they are family, spouse or children - this is, indeed, a time to lean on others. It all seems to weigh heavy on the person who is sufferring the most - the next of kin. Not only this but the cost of burial and organising a funeral can make mourning difficult.

The Medical Death Certificate, Cause of Death, The Coronor and The Post Mortem

Dealing with a matter like this is not something that we can deal with heirs and graces. It is a horrible duty that the next of kin has to perform, so forgive me if the tone is somewhat ‘factual’.

Shortly after the death of a loved one a medical death certificate needs to be issued and signed by a Doctor stating the cause of death. Sometimes if the cause is not obvious, then the Coroner may have to be informed. It is normal practice for the Coroner to be called if the death seems unusual – don’t worry about this; it is just to ascertain the cause of death. The body will be taken away for a post mortem.

Which Way Now: The Registry of Deaths, Births and Marriages

If the death happens at hospital, this is processed by the hospital concerned, but if this happens at home, then a Doctor will need to informed. Which way now?

As next of kin, you will be issued with a medical certificate so as you can register the death of a loved one concerned. You will need to take the medical death certificate to the Registrar of Deaths, Births and Marriages within 5 days of the death in the UK or within 8 Days in Scotland. It is best to phone to make an appointment for this.

You will need to bring with you the medical death certificate with the cause of the death of a loved one stated on it, the medical card of the deceased and the birth and marriage certificates if you have them. You will need to tell the Registrar the deceased’s address, receipt of welfare benefits and pension details, should they have been in receipt of these.

The Next of Kin has to Register the Death of a Loved One with the Registrar

Which Way Now? Death Certificate of Burial or Cremation For the Funeral

Once you have completed all the necessary details with the Registrar, the next of kin will receive the death certificate and a certificate of burial or cremation for the funeral director. It is best to have a few copies of the certificate of death from the Registrar for other administration purposes, for example, social security, banking, investments and the will. You will be charged extra for these copies.  Everyone will need to be informed of the death of a loved one.  It might be an idea for the next of kin to organise a newspaper submission in the obitiuaries section.

Which Way Now? A checklist:

  • A medical death certificate needs to be issued.
  • Phone for an appointment at the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
  • Documents needed: Medical certificate, birth and marriage certificates, benefits information and address details (from utility bills, for example).
  • Obtain the Certificate of Death and Copies from the Registrar. You will need these for administration proofs.
  • Bereavement Section in the Local Newspaper - Funeral Death Notices or Obituaries. You might feel that you need to advertise the death with details of the funeral for attendance.

Which Way Now? The Funeral - What Type? Green Funeral, Cremation or Burial.

This is a very difficult time to think logically, especially if the next of kin was close to the deceased, but you need to contemplate a few issues as regards to the decease’s wishes.  A death of a loved requires careful consideration.  It is respectful to include certain wishes and desires for the type of funeral requested.

What sort of funeral did the decease want? A cremation, burial or ecological green funeral (see ‘The Natural Death Centre’)? Were there any clues in the Will or was the funeral already arranged during the life of the deceased?

Which Way Now? The Death Of A Loved One Has Lots For Consideration!

Which Way Now? What Are the Wishes of the Next of Kin and Family?

What about the family of the deceased? What sort of funeral would they want? Is there a religious service involved? What size of celebration of the deceased life will be required? Of course, this depends on the level of attendees. Here 'which way now' is dependant on the reading of the will and the views of others. It is from this, the next of kin can make an informed choice.

These questions are all valid and can be sequential in their answers. So which way now for the next of kin? A bigger funeral, for example, means a higher level of organisation – food, times, venues all have to fit in with the ceremony. This could also require outside help and it is always best for the next of kin to delegate as much as possible. Of course there is also the issue of clearing the residence of possessions - this might be tiresome and upsetting after the death of a loved one - whilst taking into consideration certain wishes as outlined in the will, should there be one. Please click hereon what happens if there isn't a last will and testament.  This is very useful information at this time for the next of kin.

Which Way Now? More Information for the Next Of Kin: National Death Centre, The National Association of Funeral Directors and The Society of Allied and Independ

You can also get further information from your local authority’s crematoria and cemetery office. However, for your information, here are some great resources:

  • The National Association of Funeral Directors (world wide web address -
  • The Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (world wide web address -

Most reputable Funeral Directors are members of one of these organisations - look out for their quality marks at the Directors of choice.  These websites have clear guidance that their members must adhere to as regards to pricing structures. Their members also have clear written documentation on estimates for their services. It is therefore, advisable to look out for a funeral director that are members of these particular associations.

The Next of Kin is Responsible For the Funeral Costs of the Death of a Loved One!

Payment for the funeral is the responsibility of the organiser - i.e. the next of kin.  So, which way now? A consideration of cost has to be paramount to any decision that has to be made. Most people leave much of the organisation of the funeral to the Funeral Director; however, a funeral can be arranged by doing it yourself.

The Natural Death Centre is a registered charity that encourage the issues and information surrounding dying and the death of a loved one.  The fundamental focus to this organisation is to enable death issues to be easily spoken about and accessible. They advocate openness in funeral matters and encourage people to make choices outside traditional funeral methods. They further believe that in having reliable sources of information, it will enable people to have an informed choice. If you want to learn more about this organisation -

Money Too Tight To Mention? Which Way Now? Try The Burial Fund

If you are worried about the cost of the funeral and you are the next of kin, you might be able to get help with the costs associated with a death of a loved one. This is especially the case if the person who died was a war pensioner. If this was the decease’s situation you can contact Veteran’s UK on 0800 169 2277 or the website is

Which way now to funeral expenses?  The Burial Fund mind be able to help you.

Do you receive any of the following?

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Housing Benefit
  • Council Tax Benefit
  • Working Tax Credit (with a disability element)
  • Child Tax Credit

If you are in receipt of any of the above, you may qualify for a Funeral Payment from the Social Fund to help pay for the funeral. Provided you make a claim within three months of the funeral help is there for you. The Pension Service, your funeral director and/or your local social security office can help you make an application.

© This work is covered under Creative Commons License

© 2010 shazwellyn


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    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      22 months ago from Germany and Philippines

      Very informative hub. I have just experienced what you have mentioned here. It is a tough time for us and the family members.

    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Great Britain

      Yes Lisa. It takes time to accept a new reality when those you love pass on. Your grandparent's clothes shows an example of this. It is a painful process that can be challenging.

      One thing is for sure... the grieving process is not biased to class, creed or race - we all have to endure the same challenges towards our road to accepting the new reality. We are all human and we all hurt sometimes.

      Thank you for reading :)

    • Lisas-thoughts101 profile image


      6 years ago from Northeast Texas

      Even though I live in the U.S. and there are some technical differences, the hub was quite useful and very thorough. What a thoughtful hub. It would be quite useful at such a difficult time. It took me a year to be ready to get rid of my grandparent's clothes, however.


    • shazwellyn profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Great Britain

      Hi Denise... I am glad you found this useful - it is really hard at times like these to know exactly what to do next. Thanks for reading and spread the word to anyone who needs it :) Much appreciated,


    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow! What a hub! Filled with lots of practical info. Great hub-I voted it up. Greetings to you, hope all is well. :)


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