When someone dies, it can be difficult to know what steps need to be taken, particularly if it is unexpected.

If the person dies in hospital or at a hospice or care home, then staff there will know exactly what needs to be done and can guide you on anything you need to do. If the death occurs at home, then the first step that needs to happen is for the doctor to be called to confirm and certify the death. Either way, you will be provided with a medical certificate confirming the cause of death and allowing you to register the death.

If the doctor is unsure about the cause of death then they will report it to the Procurator Fiscal. A post-mortem may then be needed to ascertain the cause before a medical certificate is issued.

Should someone die while abroad then contact the British Embassy, High Commissioner or nearest Consulate.

Registering a death

A death occurring in Scotland should be registered within eight days by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

Once registered, you will be given an extract copy of the death certificate and a ‘Form 14’ – it is advisable to purchase additional copies as these may be required by banks, insurance companies and other organisations. The death certificate is also required to enable the deceased’s will to be executed. The ‘Form 14’ should be given to the funeral director to allow for the burial or cremation to take place.