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.
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. This is done by the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. The Registrar's service is run by East Sussex County Council and full details of the documents you will require to register a death are available on East Sussex County Council's Register a death web page.