Help & AdviceFrequently Asked Questions
Your Questions Answered
We will be able to answer any questions you might have, so please do not hesitate to call us or come by our office. However, we have also put together some answers to the questions we are most frequently asked below to help you:
Why do doctors 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) website 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.”
Why do I have to register the death?
All deaths have to be registered, and the people closest to the deceased person have a legal obligation to do this. Deaths in England, 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 Registrar's 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. For deaths in Wrexham, the nearest Registrar is The Guildhall, Wrexham, LL11 1AY. 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.
In Scotland, you can register the death at any registration district, as long as it is in Scotland.
What do I need to register a death?
When registering a death that was expected and that has occurred in England or Wales, you will need to take the medical certificate showing the cause of death (signed by a doctor) with you. If available, also take the deceased’s:
- Birth certificate;
- Council Tax bill;
- Driving licence;
- Marriage or civil partnership certificate;
- NHS medical card;
- Proof of address (a utility bill for example).
You will need to tell the Registrar:
- The person’s full name at the time of death;
- Any names previously used (maiden name for example);
- The person’s date and place of birth;
- Their last address;
- Their occupation;
- The full name, birth date and occupation of a surviving/late spouse/civil partner;
- Whether they were getting a State Pension or any other benefits.
You should also take supporting documents that show your name and address (a utility bill and driving licence for example) but you can still register a death without them.
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. 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.
When the registration is complete the Registrar will give you, free of charge:
- A certificate of registration of death for production to the person in charge of the burial ground or crematorium;
- A Social Security registration or notification of death certificate for use in obtaining or adjusting Social Security benefits;
- An abbreviated extract (excluding cause of death and parentage details) of the death entry.
You can obtain a full extract of the death entry for a fee.
If you are unsure or need help with anything, please contact us for more information and advice.
Do I have to register the death before arranging the funeral?
You do not need to have registered the death to begin making arrangements with us. However, in order for the funeral to take place it is necessary to have registered the death. The funeral itself cannot proceed without the death being registered.
We have never been a religious family - do we have to have a vicar 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. The British Humanist Association, Institute of Civil Funerals and Fellowship of Professional Celebrants have networks of officiants who will provide a very personal non-religious ceremony. Please contact us for more information.
Funerals can be expensive. How will I know if I can afford it?
From the start, we are very transparent of the costs associated with our services. We are part of the National Association of Funeral Directors which means we adhere to their Codes of Practice. 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.
Can I get any assistance with funeral costs?
Assistance is available from the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) Social Fund which can provide assistance to individuals who meet the required criteria. To qualify you must 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. Your chosen funeral firm will be able to advise you about the qualifying criteria and the likely contribution available. For more detailed information, please visit the DWP website.
What payment methods can I use?
Payment for a funeral can be made in cash, bank transfer, by cheque or via all major debit or credit cards. We also offer pre-paid funeral plans. More information about those can be found here.
Information from National Association of Funeral Directors