If the death was expected
You should contact the doctor who attended the deceased during their final illness. If they can certify the cause of death, they will issue you with a Medical Certificate. They will provide a formal notice that states that the doctor has signed the medical certificate and tells you how to register the death. You may wish to contact a funeral director to make arrangements.
If the death was unexpected
You should contact the deceased's nearest relative. If you are the nearest relative, contact the following people:
- The family doctor (if known)
- The funeral director
- The police, who will help find the people listed above if necessary
The death may be referred to the Coroner. The doctor may ask the relatives for permission to carry out a post-mortem examination. This is a medical examination of the body which can find out more about the cause of the death and should not delay the funeral.
When a death is referred to the coroner
The doctor may occasionally refer the death to the Coroner. This can occur in cases where the death was sudden, cause of death is unknown or there has been an accident or injury.
A Coroner can order a post-mortem examination without getting the relative's permission. They may also wish to hold an investigation into circumstances leading up to a death (this is called an inquest). When an inquest is called, the Coroner's Office will contact the relatives.
In such cases, the Death Certificate will be issued to you from the Coroner's Office and the relatives must then register the death. When an inquest is to be held, the death cannot be registered until the conclusion of the inquest. However, a certificate will normally be issued at the opening of the inquest to allow the funeral to take place.
Lancashire County Council can provide more information on the Coroner.