What to do when someone dies

It is usual for people to be unsure of what to do after the bereavement. We will take you through the initial steps and
provide advice on other things you may need to think about
when someone dies.

Please contact us as soon as the Doctor confirms that he or she will issue the Cause of Death Certificate.

Contact us

Further information

Registering a death
How and where do I register a death?

Any death which occurs in Scotland must be registered by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages. The law allows a death to be registered in any registration district in Scotland.

The opening hours of registration offices, varies between local authorities and some operate an appointments system. You should therefore check with the relevant local authority before attending an office.

Who can register the death in Scotland?

The following people can register a death:

  • Any relative of the person who has died
  • Any person present at the death
  • The deceased’s executor or other legal representative, or
  • The occupier of the property where the person died, or if there is no such person,
  • Anyone else who knows the information to be registered.

A simple interview with the Registrar to register the death is carried out at the Register Office.

At the Registrar’s Office:

You should take with you:

  • The Medical Certificate issued by the doctor showing the cause of death.
  • The deceased’s Medical Card.
  • The deceased’s birth and marriage certificate
  • Any document concerning a pension or allowance received from the government.

Should these documents not be available, don’t worry the registrar can still proceed to register the death.

The registrar will issue you, free of charge:
  • A certificate of registration of death (form 14) which should be handed to the Funeral Director prior to the burial or cremation taking place.
  • A Social Security registration or notification of death certificate for use in obtaining or adjusting Social Security benefits.
  • An abbreviated extract (i.e. excluding cause of death and parentage details) of the death entry.
  • You can obtain a full extract of the death entry for an additional fee.
If the Procurator Fiscal is involved

When a death is sudden, unexpected or the result of an accident it will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal for a post-mortem. This will probably mean a delay of 2 or 3 days before we can help you make definite funeral arrangements. However, if you contact us as soon as possible after death we can guide you through the whole process.

What If The Death Occurs Abroad?

You should register the death according to local regulations in the country concerned and obtain a certificate of death. You may also be able to register the death with the British Consul in that country for a fee. However, there is no obligation to do so. A record of the death will be sent to Scotland and you will thereafter be able to get a copy from New Register House.

Caring for the deceased

Once you have entrusted the deceased to our care we will look after them with respect and sensitivity.  They will rest with us until the day of the funeral or, if you prefer, they can rest at home or in church, if this is allowed.

We recommend embalming because it delays the natural processes that take place after death. This is particularly important if you want to visit the person in the chapel of rest.

We wash and dress everyone in our care. Some people like to provide us with items such as a favourite outfit.

Our funeral directors will carry out your wishes carefully and respectfully but, if you would like to help us look after your loved one, please let us know.

Viewing the deceased

Some people find it comforting to see the person who has died and like to bring a small gift or photograph to put in the coffin. Others find it upsetting to see someone they loved who is now dead.

It really is a personal choice and we aim to help in any way we can.

Telling others

You may wish to tell people about the death and the details of the funeral, by putting an announcement in a newspaper whether local or national. We can help you with drafting and sending a death announcement to a newspaper.

We can also assist after the funeral with placing a message in the newspaper to thank those who attended and sent flowers or donations. We can if you wish take copies for you to keep.