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When a death occurs at home, the first step is to call the doctor. If the death has been expected, the doctor will attend and give permission to contact the funeral director. If the death has been sudden or unexpected, the procurator fiscal will likely become involved. This can cause a delay to making the funeral arrangements. It is still advisable however, to contact the funeral director as soon as possible. If death occurs in a hospital, nursing home or care establishment you can contact the funeral director directly and we will attend things from there.
One of the first important steps in the process is to register the death. This can be done either before or after meeting the funeral director.
It is essential to be in possession of the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (Form 11), to complete the registration. Other documents will assist the registration process, such as the deceased birth certificate, marriage certificate and medical card.
The registrar will also offer a separate service to the client called ‘tell us once’. ‘Tell us once’ is a service that informs numerous council and government departments of the death. The advantage of this service is the family can be saved a lot of repetitive calls to these departments, to inform them of the death.
During the registration process the registrar will enter the case details into the database and the informant will go through a random selection process. If selected the case will be sent to the Death Certification Review Service for further review. Only one in approximately ten cases are selected for review. If the informant is selected, the registration will not be completed there and then and will involve a return visit to the registrar, at a later date, to complete the registration.
There are two types of review, level one and level two. Level one review is expected to be completed within one full working day. Level two is a more in depth review. This involves checking with certifying doctor and also checking the relevant medical records, level two is expected to be completed within three working days. There is also the possibility of a level one review being escalated to a level two review. Once the review has been completed the registrar will contact the family and ask them to return to the registrar to complete the registration.
Procurator Fiscal cases will not be submitted to the review service.
Should there be exceptional circumstances, whereby a delay to the funeral arrangements will cause undue stress to the family or serious financial implications, it is possible to apply for the funeral to go ahead while the review is being carried out. This process is called Advance Registration. The registrar can provide guidance on the criteria and process for Advance Registration.
Should advance registration be granted, the necessary paperwork will be issued and the funeral can go ahead. The review will still be completed in the background.
Upon completion of the registration the family will be issued with the ‘Extract of an entry into the Register of Deaths’. This is the certified document required to finalise the deceased’s estate. The registrar can issue more than one document but there is a charge for each one produced.
Another document issued is the Certificate of Registration of Death (Form14). This is an essential document required by the funeral director as part of the normal funeral paperwork. It confirms the registration has been completed and is submitted to the burial or cremation authority, by the funeral director.
Once the registration is complete and the funeral director is in possession of the Form 14, the funeral director will then be able to confirm the funeral details.