• What to do if death occurs at home

    First contact the Doctor who may call to establish that death has taken place. The Doctor will advise you when the death certificate will be ready and from where it can be collected.

    Contact M. Sillifant & Sons in order to move the deceased to their premises.

    Details, such as whether the funeral is to be a burial or cremation, can be discussed at this point or you can advise us later. You may wish to wait until other members of the family arrive before making any definite plans.

    If the deceased donated his or her organs for transplant or medical research, you should notify the Doctor immediately. Such donations are accepted or refused at the discretion of the Head of Anatomical Research at the nearest teaching Hospital or University.

    If the Doctor is unable to issue a death certificate he will contact the Coroner. See “Her Majesty’s Coroner” for further details.

  • If death occurs in a nursing home

    If death occurs in a nursing home or elderly peoples’ residence the Nursing Home will contact the Doctor who may then call to establish that death has taken place.

    The Nursing Home should then contact the nearest relative or Executor to advise them of the death and to ask which Funeral Director should be contacted. No matter where death occurs it is the family’s choice as to which Funeral Director they instruct.

    You should arrange to collect valuables, clothing and any other items from the Home. If the deceased was wearing any jewellery, find out whether it has been removed.

    Contact M. Sillifant & Sons and make an appointment to discuss the funeral arrangements.

    If the Doctor is unable to issue the death certificate he will contact the Coroner. See “Her Majesty’s Coroner” for further details.

  • If death occurs in a hospital

    The Hospital will advise the nearest relative or Executor of the death. They will tell you when you may call and collect any valuables, clothing and any other items.

    If the deceased was wearing any jewellery, find out whether it has been removed. You will be asked to sign for these items. The deceased will be taken by the Hospital staff to the Hospital Mortuary.

    Sometimes relatives or friends ask to see the deceased in the Mortuary Chapel. This can usually be arranged. Contact M. Sillifant & Sons and make an appointment to discuss the funeral arrangements.

    The Doctor may ask you for your written permission for a post mortem examination. It will be explained to you why the Doctor wants this done.

    You are under no obligation to sign for this. If the Doctor is unable to issue the death certificate he will contact the Coroner. See “Her Majesty’s Coroner” for further details.

  • Registration

    A death must be registered in the district in which it occurred. Wherever possible this should be done by a near relative or Executor. If neither is available, then the person in charge of the Institution or Hospital, where the death occurred can register, or a person who was present at death. We will inform you where and when to register.

    The Medical Certificate of Cause of Death will be emailed to the Registrar by the hospital or the G.P. who has issued it. The Registrar will need to know the deceased’s full name, address and postcode, date and place of birth and death, occupation and whether the deceased was in receipt of a pension or allowance from public funds.

    If the deceased was a married woman or widow, the Registrar will want to know her husband’s full name and occupation, also her maiden name. If married, the date of birth of the surviving partner is also needed. The Registrar will issue a green certificate for the Funeral Director and this should be given to us as soon as possible unless the Registrar has emailed it to us.

    The Registrar issues copies of the entry in the register for Probate, Insurance, Post Office accounts etc. You should take some money with you to pay for these. The Registrar will give you a white certificate to send back to the Social Security office with any pension or allowance books. When the death has been reported to the Coroner you will be advised when the registration can be done. See “Her Majesty’s Coroner” for further details.

    The following information and documents are required:

    • Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (This will be issued by the Hospital, or G.P. if death occurs at home, and emailed to the Registrar by them)
    • Full name of the deceased – Date and place of birth – Occupation
    • Date of birth of surviving partner (if applicable)
    • Maiden name (if applicable)
    • Husband’s full name & last known occupation (if applicable)
    • Type of Funeral arranged (Burial or Cremation)


    • Medical Card of deceased, Birth Certificate, Marriage Certificate, Bus pass
    • Blue Disabled Badge, Passport, Driving Licence, National Insurance Number

    The Registrar Will Issue You With:

    • A green certificate for Burial or Cremation. This must be delivered to the Funeral Director as soon as possible prior to the Funeral taking place unless the Registrar has emailed it to us.
    • A white certificate of Registration of Death. This should be completed and forwarded together with the deceased’s pension/benefit books to the local D.S.S. Office.
    • A copy of the entry of death for Banks, Post Office, Private Pensions, Life Insurance, Premium Bonds, Stocks and Shares etc.
    • A fee is payable for each certificate required. From £11.00 each.
  • Offices of Registration Within This Area

    Exeter Registration Office
    Lakebeare House, Topsham Road, Exeter, EX2 4NG

    Tel. 0345 1551002

    Honiton & East Devon
    East Devon Business Centre, Heath Park Way, Heath Park, Honiton, EX14 1SF
    Town Hall, St Andrew’s Road, Exmouth, EX8 1AW

    Tel. 0345 1551002

    West Devon
    Town Council Offices, Fore Street, Okehampton, EX20 1AA
    West Devon Council Offices, Kilworthy Park, Tavistock, PL19 0BZ

    Tel. 0345 1551002

    Tiverton & Mid Devon Registration Office
    Old Heathcoat School Community Centre, 81 King Street, Tiverton, Devon, EX16 5JJ

    Tel. 0345 1551002

    North Devon Registration Office
    Taw View, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 1EA

    Tel. 0345 1551002

    Caddsdown Business Support Centre, Farm Road, Bideford, EX39 3DX

    Tel. 0345 1551002

    Old Forde House, Brunel Rd, Newton Abbott, TQ12 4XX

    Tel. 0345 1551002

    South Hams
    Follaton House, Plymouth Road, Totnes, TQ9 5NE

    Tel. 0345 1551002

    Lockyer Street, Plymouth, PL1 2QD

    Tel. 01752 268331

    Torquay Registration Office, Cockington Court, Torquay, TQ2 6XA
    Paignton Library, Great Western Road, Paignton, TQ4 5AG
    Brixham Library, Market Street, Brixham, TQ5 8EU

    Tel. 01803 207130

    Phone the main office number for the District to make an appointment.

  • The Coroner

    Her Majesty’s Coroners are judicial officers (usually Solicitors or Doctors) who are quite independent of local or central government. It is their duty to establish the cause of death when a Doctor is unable to issue a death certificate.

    This may be because the Doctor had not seen the person within twenty eight days prior to death or the death occurred during an operation or before recovery from the effects of anaesthetic, or the death was sudden and unexplained: or as the result of an accident or under suspicious circumstances. If one of the above circumstances applied, either the Doctor or a Police Officer will contact the Coroner. The Registrar of Deaths also has the power to report to the Coroner.

    If none of these has reported the death, but you, as a relative or Executor are suspicious about the cause of death, you may speak to the Coroner yourself. Your Funeral Director will advise you how to contact them. It is usually necessary for the Coroner to order a post mortem examination to establish accurately the cause of death.

    The consent of relatives is not needed for this. If the Coroner is satisfied that the death was due to natural causes they will then issue their form to enable the death to be registered.

    This will normally be posted direct to the appropriate Registrar. Sometimes if the Doctor feels that the Coroner should know the circumstances of death but does not feel that a post mortem examination is necessary, the Coroner will issue a Certificate called a Part A, registration cannot be done until this has been received by the Registrar, we will advise you of this.

    Whilst the funeral arrangements cannot be confirmed until the Coroner has issued their form, you should still contact M. Sillifant & Sons as soon as possible. We will be able to make provisional arrangements and explain the likely time-span before the funeral.

  • Will there be an Inquest?

    The Coroner will order an inquest if the death was caused by an accident; caused by an industrial disease; violence; or if, after a post mortem examination, the cause of death remains uncertain. An inquest is an inquiry into the medical cause and circumstances of death.

    It is held in public, and sometimes with a jury. It is up to the Coroner how to organise the inquiry in a way to best serve the public interest and the interest of the relatives. If there is to be an inquest the relatives will be notified of the time and place. Relatives and Executors can attend and ask questions if they wish. The inquest does not attempt to allocate responsibility for the death, as a trial would do.

    However, the Coroner will report to the Director of Public Prosecutions any criminal acts which come to their attention. It may be important to have a Lawyer to represent you if the death was caused by a road accident or accident at work which could lead to a claim for compensation.

    The Coroner’s order for burial or cremation will not be issued until the inquest has been opened. Registration of the death will not be possible until the inquest has been closed and the Coroner has sent their form to the Registrar. M. Sillifant & Sons will advise you of the likely time this might take.

  • Insurance policies

    Insurance Companies should be notified as soon as possible of the death of an insured person. This applies to household and fire insurance as well as life policies.

    You should check that all policies are still in force. For any claim on a life policy, the Insurance Company will require the policy itself and a copy of the Registrar’s death certificate.

    It is best to telephone the Insurance Company for instructions.

  • Motor Insurance

    Insurance cover on a vehicle owned and insured by the deceased ceases immediately at the time of death.

    No one should drive the vehicle until the Insurance Company has been notified and new cover has been arranged. The car registration documents should be returned to DVLC, Swansea SA99 1AT.

  • What happens to the pension book?

    You should return any pension or allowance books in the name of the deceased, together with any uncashed Giro cheques issued by the DSS to your local Department of Social Security office.

    We recommend that you return this by post to save a possible long wait. If you are the widow or widower of the deceased you may be entitled to an increase in your own pension.

    Booklet “Help when someone dies” – A guide to Social Security Benefits, explains what help is available.

  • Company and private pensions

    If the deceased was in receipt of a company or private pension you should notify the company concerned as soon as possible.

    They will probably require a copy of the Registrar’s death certificate.

  • Probate and letters of administration

    The distribution of a person’s estate (i.e. everything they owned) is the responsibility of the person or persons named in a Will to do so. These are called the Executor or Executrix. If there is no Will the nearest relative usually deals with the estate, they are called the Administrator.

    If you are the person responsible and you do not choose to employ a solicitor to help you then you should contact your nearest Probate Registry as soon as possible. They will help you complete the necessary forms.
    Probate Registry, 2nd Floor, Exeter Crown & County Court, Southernhay Gardens, Exeter
    Tel: 01392 415370

Get in touch

If you require guidance with making Funeral arrangements, contact the understanding professionals at M. Sillifant & Sons in Exeter.
To speak to a member of our team in Exeter, please contact us via the number listed at the top of our website. Alternatively if you wish to send us an email with any enquiries you can fill out the form located on the Contact Us page of this website

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