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What to do when someone dies in Scotland

First steps when someone dies at home

1. Call the person’s doctor or the NHS helpline 111

A medical professional needs to come to verify the death. If the person’s doctor isn’t available, for example if someone dies at night, an on-call doctor or senior nurse can do this.

A doctor will then be able to issue a medical certificate of cause of death, which you’ll need to register the death. The doctors’ surgery will contact you when this is ready to collect.

2. Call your local Co-op funeral director

Once the death has been verified, call your local Co-op funeral director. We’ll bring the person who has died into our care at whatever time you need us to, day or night.

Our experienced and professional team will care for them until the funeral takes place.

If you don't want to speak to anyone right now, fill out the form below and someone in our team will call you back within an hour.

Tell us about a death form

3. Register the death

You need to register the death within 5 days in England and Wales and within 8 days in Scotland. You can register the death by contacting the Registrar’s Office local to the person who has died.

You can start making funeral arrangements before you’ve registered the death.

Find out more about how to register a death

4. Start arranging the funeral

When you meet with your local Co-op funeral director, the first thing they'll do is listen to find out more about you and the person who has died. This is to make sure the funeral is right for you and for them. They’ll guide you through all the decisions you need to make and anything you may need to do.

This can take place at one of our funeral homes or over the phone.

Find your local Co-op funeral director

Unexpected deaths at home

If someone dies unexpectedly at home the emergency services must be involved. They will contact the coroner (or procurator fiscal in Scotland) to investigate the cause of death.

The coroner will arrange for a local funeral director to collect the person who has died to take them to the hospital mortuary (or city morgue in Scotland). You don’t need to use this funeral director, even if the person has been taken to their funeral home after the investigation is finished.

The coroner will issue a medical certificate of cause of death when they've finished their investigation, but you can still start arranging the funeral in the meantime.

What happens when a death is reported to a coroner

If it’s necessary for an inquest to take place, Co-op Legal Services can support you through this

Contact your local Co-op funeral director to start making funeral arrangements

If the death has been reported to a coroner, you can get in touch with us to begin arrangements, even if the person who has died is currently in the care of a different funeral director.

Even though we can start the funeral arrangements, a funeral date cannot be set without contacting the coroner. Your Co-op funeral director will help you with everything you need to do.

Find your local Co-op funeral director

Co-op Legal Services could pay funeral costs for you

If you instruct Co-op Legal Services to carry out probate, they could cover the cost of the funeral up front. Probate is the legal process of dealing with someone’s money, property and possessions after they have died.

Co-op Legal Services get the money back from the ‘estate’ (the things that the person owned), later.

Not everyone needs probate, it’s unlikely to be needed if the person who died:

  • did not own a house in their sole name

  • had less than £20,000 in the bank

Check if you need probate

If you’re the executor of an estate of someone who’s died and need more support, Co-op Legal Services can help

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