The Home of Fair Price Funerals Tel. 0117 9508066

A summary of useful information you need to know when death occurs.

What should I do if a relative dies at Home?

When a death which has been expected occurs at home or at a nursing home, the doctor who has been treating the deceased should be contacted. Provided the deceased has seen by the doctor during their final illness (within the previous 14 days) the doctor or a colleague will either attend to confirm that death has occurred, or will give permission for the deceased to be transferred to our premises, if it is your wish for this to happen.

What should I do if a relative dies at Hospital?

If a relative who has been a hospital in-patient dies, the doctors who have been treating the deceased will usually be able to issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. Ask the ward staff or doctor what you need to do to collect this certificate, or ring us for advice.

Most hospitals will give family members the opportunity to sit with the deceased before transfer from the ward or private room. There is usually 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 ourselves once you have completed the appropriate form authorising the hospital to release the deceased into our care.

The doctor says he won't issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of death. Why is this?

If the doctor will not issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death it is usually because the circumstances surrounding the death mean it should be referred to HM Coroner for further investigation. The doctor can only complete the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death if they know the cause of death having seen the deceased for this illness in the 14 days prior to death occurring. The doctor cannot issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death if the deceased:

  • has died a violent or an unnatural death;
  • has died a sudden death where the cause is unknown;
  • has died in prison or in such a place or in such circumstances as to require an inquest under any other Act.

If the death does not fall into these criteria but the deceased underwent an operation shortly before death or there is a suggestion of a possible industrial disease, then it is probable that the doctor will not complete the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death but refer the death to HM Coroner in whose sub-district the death occurred.

If the death is referred to HM Coroner their office will arrange for the deceased to be taken to their mortuary in order that the death can be investigated and, if necessary, an inquest opened.

What does Her Majesty's Coroner do?

The office of HM Coroner dates from Saxon times and has evolved down the centuries. Generally, HM Coroner has been, and is, one who acts on behalf of the Crown in legal matters connected with disaster and property rights, treasure trove, shipwreck and the like, thus leading to the investigation of the many deaths which occurred at such a time. Having complete jurisdiction over all sudden and unexplained deaths was a natural extension of his/her powers, and this forms the main part of his/her work today.

The main duties of the Coroner today are:

  • to investigate all sudden and unexpected deaths
  • to investigate all deaths that happen abroad where 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 is not infrequently a solicitor. He/she can also be a doctor with a legal background, and is occasionally both. Although the Local Authority supplies the Coroner Service, paying all costs - including the costs of removals by funeral firms acting on behalf of the Coroner - the Coroner is not employed by the Authority, being only answerable to the Crown in the person of one of Her Majesty's Secretaries of State, namely the Home Secretary.

Why do GP'S charge for cremation forms?

A deceased person cannot be cremated until the cause of death has been ascertained and properly recorded. The cause of death must then be verified by a second doctor, entirely independent of the first.

The British Medical Association (BMA) 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 generally passes on the cost to the family. Doctors are also entitled to charge a mileage allowance, where appropriate.

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

How do I decide which funeral firm to choose?

Choosing a funeral firm can be difficult, especially if you are confronted with having to make a quick decision.

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

Membership of a reputable trade association should be mandatory. By choosing a funeral firm which is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors (NAFD) you can be assured it is quality assessed on a regular basis and can be expected to provide a guaranteed level of service. Member firms are bound by a Code of Practice against which their performance can be measured. In the sad event that the experience is not all that it could be, the NAFD also provides a mechanism by which satisfaction can be sought, namely the Funeral Arbitration Scheme.

Many people ask friends or relatives to recommend a firm that they have dealt with, or have heard positive comments about. If you do not have the opportunity to ask advice from others, your local solicitors or doctors will know of local funeral firms. Failing that you can research firms in your area by browsing the internet or looking for advertisements in your local newspapers, parish magazines, or telephone directories.

These will tell you if the firms are members of the National Association of Funeral Directors - this is your guarantee of a quality service. The advertisements may also give you further information, such as whether it is a small family business or part of a larger group.

Why do I have to register the death?

All deaths have to be registered, and the people closest to the deceased 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. In Scotland, deaths must be registered within 8 days.

Which Registrars office should I go to?

In England and Wales, the death has to be registered at the registrar's office in the area 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 in order to register the death. Depending on the circumstances, this can delay the date of the funeral - ask your chosen funeral firm for advice.

In Scotland, you can register the death either at the place of death or where the deceased had their normal residence, as long as both are in Scotland.

What do I need to register the Death?

When registering a death that was expected and that has occurred in England or Wales, you will need the following documents

In Scotland, you can register the death either at the place of death or where the deceased had their normal residence, as long as both are in Scotland.

  • - The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death from the doctor who was treating the deceased during the last illness
  • - The Medical Card of the Deceased - if available do not delay registering the death if you cannot find it - the Registrar will explain to you what to do if the Medical Card is subsequently found.

Other information you will be required to provide includes:

  • - The date and place of death
  • - The full name and surname (and the maiden surname if the deceased was a woman who had married)
  • - The date and place of birth
  • - The occupation (and if the deceased was a married woman or a widow the name and occupation of her husband)
  • - The usual address
  • - Whether the deceased was in receipt of a pension or allowance from public funds
  • - If the deceased was married, the date of birth of the surviving widow or widower,
    Name and surname of informant;
    Qualification;
    Usual address.

The informant will then sign the Register, certifying that the information that has been given to the Registrar is correct.

When the Coroner is involved, the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death is replaced by one from HM Coroner. Your funeral firm or, if necessary, 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 Scotland, more documents are required to register a death - contact your local funeral firm for information and advice.

Registrars, Hospitals, Cremation, Cemeteries

You can get information from:

Registrars

Bristol Register Office
Corn Street
Bristol BS1 1JG
Tel: 0117 9222800
All times by appointment only.
Mon-Tue–Thurs-Fri:
09.00 – 16.00
Wed:
10.00 – 16.00
17.00 – 19.00
Sat Morning:
(phone for appointment)

Southmead Hospital
Monks Park Avenue
Bristol BS10 5NB
Telephone: 0117 9505050
Hours: Mon – Fri
09.00 – 12.45
14.00 – 16.00
Bereavement Services
Telephone: 0117 4140182
and 0117 4140181
Hours: Mon – Fri:
08.00 – 15.30

Cruse
9A St James Barton
Bristol BS1 3LT
Telephone: 0117 9264045

Citizens Advice Bureau
48 Fairfax Street
Bristol BS1 3BL
Opening hours:
9.30-16.00
Telephone: 03444 111 444

Avon Coroner's Office
Flax Bourton Public Mortuary
Old Weston Road
Flax Bourton
N Somerset BS48 1UL
Opening hours:
7.00 - 16.00
Mon - Fri
Telephone: 01275 461920

Hospitals

Southmead Hospital
Southmead Road
Westbury-on-Trym
Bristol BS10 5NB
Tel: 0117 9505050

Bristol Royal Infirmary
Upper Maudlin Street
Bristol BS2 8HW
Tel: 0117 9230000

Burial/Cremation

Canford Cemetery
Canford Lane
Westbury-on-Trym
Bristol BS9 3PQ
Opening hours:
Mon – Fri
09.00 – 16.30
Tel: 0117 9038280

South Gloucester Council
Broad Lane, Engine Common
Yate BS37 7PN
Tel: 01454 803140
Opening hours:
Mon – Thurs
09.00 – 17.00
Friday
09.00 – 16.30
On line Booking: http://www.southglos.gov.uk/community-and-living/deaths-funerals-and-cremations/registering-a-death/

What will the Registrar give me?

In the majority of cases the Registrar will then issue:

  • The Registrar's Certificate for Burial or Cremation (this form is green in colour). NB. This form should be handed to your nominated funeral firm, which will hand it to the appropriate authority in due course.
  • A Certificate of Registration or Notification of Death. This certificate is needed in order to claim benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
  • Copies of the entry in the register - on payment of the prescribed fee. NB. Copies of the entry, which are usually required for legal purposes, may be obtained from the Registrar up to six months from the date of registration. After six months copies can be obtained from: The Registrar General, PO Box 2, Southport PR8 2JD.
  • Leaflets on State benefits and Form 48 (procedure for dealing with Wills).

It is possible that the DWP Form SF200 will be available for those that may need to make a claim for a Funeral Payment from the Social Fund. Once completed, this form should be taken or sent to your local JobCentre Plus with any pension or benefit books in the deceased's name, or in joint names. This is also used to assess whether a surviving partner is eligible for benefits such as Widows Benefit. You can download the form on the Department for Works and Pensions website. To find out more information please visit the website and click on Funeral Payment.

Do I have to Register the death before arranging the funeral?

No. It is important to understand the difference between arranging a funeral and the funeral itself.

The funeral arrangement involves your funeral director discussing with you the type of funeral required, and offering you advice and information as appropriate. This can be done as soon as you have made certain decisions about the funeral - ie whether it is to be a burial or cremation.

The funeral itself cannot proceed without the death being registered. It is for this reason that some funeral firms may be reluctant to make arrangements for a funeral before they are given the Registrar's Certificate for Burial or Cremation (the "Green Form").

We have never been a religious family. Do we have to have a vicar to to take the ceremony?

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. Organisations such as The British Humanist Association, Fellowship of Professional Celebrants and the Institute of Civil Funerals have networks of officiants who will provide a very personal non- religious ceremony. Ask your funeral firm for more information or to organise a humanist ceremony visit humanist.org.uk, professionalcelebrants.org.uk or iocf.org.uk

What are Green funerals and Woodland Burials?

'Green funeral' is a term often used to describe funeral services that take a less traditional form. This may mean choosing a location for the funeral service that is unusual, such as a woodland burial ground, deciding not to have overseas grown flowers on the funeral or selecting a coffin made of material other than wood.

It is sometimes the case that funeral directors will use the expression 'Green Funeral' to try to differentiate their service from that of others. An environmentally responsible funeral need not differ significantly from any other. By checking that the wood used to make a wooden coffin is obtained from sustainably managed resources, using a local cemetery or crematorium and arranging to share vehicles when travelling to and from the funeral would be significant strides to achieving an environmentally responsible funeral, if that is your preference.

Woodland burial grounds are cemeteries, often privately run, where strict rules govern what can and cannot be buried. These sites are presented in many different ways - some are pleasant and well presented, while others are hard to discern from traditional cemeteries. Each will have its own rules about what is and is not allowed. 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. Of particular interest should be the length of the exclusive right of burial and what the long term plans for the site are.

We can provide you with information about woodland burial grounds in the locality should you require it.

Funerals can be expensive, How will I know if I can afford it?

If you choose a funeral firm that is a member of the National Association of Funeral directors, it is bound to abide by a Code of Practice which ensures that the firm treats its clients and the public fairly. Member firms are required to have price lists available showing the cost of the services they provide. The Code also requires them to provide a simple fixed price funeral – The Simple Funeral Service - which should be offered to you during the course of the funeral arrangement.

Every member of the National Association of Funeral Directors is required to provide you with a written estimate and confirmation of arrangements before the funeral takes place. This ensures that you are aware of the costs of the funeral you have arranged.

To ensure you obtain the best value possible, it is advisable to contact at least two funeral firms in your area for an estimate of their funeral costs, or obtain a price list from their offices to make comparisons. Do not assume that all funeral firms charge the same prices.

Can I get any assistance with the Funeral Cost?

Assistance is available from the Department for Work and Pensions' (DWP) Social Fund which can provide financial help to individuals who meet the required criteria. To qualify you need to demonstrate that you are the most suitable person to take responsibility for paying the funeral account - additionally you must be receiving at least one of several qualifying benefits and have insufficient savings to pay for the funeral.

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. For further information, see the section entitled 'Financial support.

As a non Christian, how will I know a Funeral Director understands our requirements?

Today we live in an ethnically diverse society, and this diversity needs to be celebrated in our funeral ceremonies as well as our everyday lives. However, facilities for particular religious communities do vary from region to region - for example, in some areas cemeteries have dedicated sections for Muslim burials, and the local Muslim community is often closely involved with the operation of the cemetery.

It is our role to discuss the funeral requirements of our clients, and to have knowledge of the different alternatives available to a family in order to offer sound advice. As a professional funeral director we have the ability to do this, regardless of the religion of the deceased or the immediate family.

However, we will not make assumptions about the family's wishes based solely upon its religious beliefs. Funerals are individual events, and there are many other things to consider. Even if you tell us you require a 'Traditional Hindu funeral', we will still wish to discuss your exact requirements with you to ensure that no personal wishes have been overlooked.

end faq


 

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First and foremost, a big thank you for putting prices on your website, ensuring transparency and honesty is at the centre of what you do. With funeral poverty having risen 50% in just three years, it's of key importance that the bereaved have access to open information and prices on funeral directors' websites.

By being open and transparent about your prices by displaying them online, you are helping people in bereavement make informed financial choices to help avoid the pitfall of funeral poverty.

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