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Arranging a funeral

Before arranging a funeral

Before arranging a funeral it is important to check if the deceased left any instructions with the Will regarding their wishes. They may have wished to donate organs for transplantation or their body for medical research.

They may have indicated their choice between burial and cremation or provided some specific instructions concerning the funeral ceremony itself. Funeral arrangements may have already been made using a pre-payment plan, or deeds set aside to indicate their ownership of a grave.

If there is a Will, the executor has the right to decide whether the deceased should be buried or cremated (even if the Will expresses a particular wish). If there is no Will, the next of kin should decide.

You can find out more about arranging a funeral on the website.

When the death occurs at home

The nearest relative and family doctor should be informed. The doctor will complete a certificate stating the cause of death and this certificate must be taken to the registrar, normally within five days.

You will need to advise the doctor if a cremation is desired, so that two doctors may complete the certificates required.

When the death occurs in hospital

A certificate will be issued stating the cause of death unless the hospital wish to carry out a post mortem examination of the deceased. Before this occurs, consent must be obtained from the nearest relative.

When the death occurs suddenly

If the death was sudden, and the doctor had not seen the patient within fourteen days of death, the coroner must be informed. The coroner will decide if it is necessary to carry out a post mortem examination.

Registering a death

By law, a death must be registered with the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths within five days. The service for Eastbourne and the Lewes district service is run by East Sussex County Council (ESCC) and registration is made by a private phone appointment with you. 

Find full details of how to book an appointment and the documents you'll need on ESCC's East Sussex County Council's Births, Deaths, Marriages and Citizenship web pages.

The registrar will also explain how to use the government's Tell Us Once Service when someone dies. You can find more information about this service on: