There are a number of funeral documents to be aware of and need to be completed before a funeral can take place. Our article below will detail which forms you need to complete and how our team can help.

Funeral documents & paperwork

Completing the funeral paperwork following a death can feel like the last thing you want to do when in the grieving process, but it is a legal obligation to do so.

First, before any paperwork can be completed you will need to register the death or you won't be able to arrange a funeral. From here you will be able to obtain a cremation or burial form.

In our article, we'll guide you through the process to try to make things as easy as possible during the most difficult of times.

Funeral documents definitions

It's easy to get a little overwhelmed at the sight of all the funeral paperwork that needs to be completed and all the jargon that you might encounter.

So here are a few quick definitions to make things easier:

  • Medical certificate of cause of death = This is the certificate the doctor gives to the family when the cause of death is clear. If the death is not clear then the certificate won't be issued immediately and the death will be referred to the coroner. The appropriate form will then need to be collected from the coroner by the funeral director or the family.
  • Death certificate / Green form = A death certificate is a document that you obtain after registering a death in the UK. The death certificate is an essential document that’s required before arranging any type of funeral, whether that’s a burial or cremation. If the death is investigated by a coroner, an Order for Burial or Cremation form 6 will be issued instead of a Green form. Read more about how to register a death.
  • Cremation 1 form = Form for applying for the cremation of a deceased person. The form is to be completed by the nearest relative or executor of the will.
  • Cremation 4 form = Form for registered medical professionals to complete to release a body for cremation. The form is filled in by a registered medical professional together with the Cremation 1 form.
  • Cremation 6 form = Form for coroners to complete to release a body for cremation. If the death is being investigated by the coroner, the coroner’s permission will be required before the cremation can take place and this will be provided through this form.
  • Burial form = Form to purchase a grave or reopen an existing plot. This form will be completed by a funeral director or the family can request one from their local council if they decide to arrange a funeral without a funeral director.
  • Order for Burial / Form 101 = Similar to a Cremation 6 form, this form is for coroners to complete to release a body for a burial. In the event that a coroner conducts an investigation into the death, prior approval from the coroner will be necessary before proceeding with the burial. This approval will be granted via the completion of this form.

Funeral documents and when they're needed after someone dies

After a death, knowing what to do when someone dies, the steps you'll need to take, and the order in which to take them, can feel daunting.

So can knowing what funeral documents you need to complete and when to complete them.

To help break the process down of what to do, below is a step-by-step process and a few further resources that may help.

Day 1: Medical Confirmation & Funeral Arrangements

A medical professional will need to confirm the death as soon as possible. They will be able to answer any questions you may have. Once this has been done, and the cause of death is clear, you will be handed a medical certificate of cause of death and you can begin to make funeral arrangements.

In the case of an unexpected death or if the death is suspicious, the deceased may need to enter the care of a coroner first who’ll investigate the cause of death. Funeral arrangements can still be arranged, but the funeral will likely be delayed. Once the coroner's inquiry is over, they will issue a Cremation 6 form

Day 2-5: Register the death

Contact the registry office to register the death within 5 days in England and Wales and within 8 days in Scotland. This is a legal requirement and allows funeral proceedings to take place. An appointment will be needed and you'll be required to take certain documents such as your loved one's passport and birth certificate with you. If the death was expected, the registry office will issue a Death certificate / Green form.

Day 5 - 10: Complete the necessary forms

You’ll need to complete a Cremation 1 form or a burial form before arranging a funeral. A medical professional will need to complete the Cremation 4 form. If the death was referred to a coroner this will be a Cremation 6 form. Our expert team at Distinct Cremations or a funeral director of your choice would be able to help with this. Once these are complete, they are submitted to the crematoria.

Day 10 +: Cremation can take place

Once the paperwork has been approved by a medical professional, the cremation can take place.


The circumstances and process may change depending on where the person dies. This is because hospitals and care homes will have people on hand to help take you through the next steps, while at home, you may be on your own.

Below are three articles that will help detail what to do when someone dies in a care home, hospital and at home.


What to do when someone dies at home

Homes

As opposed to those who die in a hospital or care home, at home you won't have anyone to guide you through the process. That’s why it’s important to know what you’ll need to do before that happens.

What to do when someone dies at home

When someone dies in a care home

Care Home Courtyard

When someone dies in a care home, it’s slightly different to a home or a hospital, but the steps you’ll need to take are mostly the same. However, it's always important to ensure you are sufficiently prepared.

What to do when someone dies in a care home

What to do when someone dies in hospital

Hospital exterior

When a loved one dies in a hospital, you’ll likely be made aware that death is imminent and be able to prepare for it although it doesn’t take away the impact of the loss. Here's what you need to do when someone dies in hospital.

What to do when someone dies in hospital

Download a free checklist

Here at Distinct Cremations, we have created a free checklist for you to download which lets you know what you need to do when someone dies.

Download our checklist below or speak to our expert team on 01543 211997 today
Download free checklist

The role of the coroner and when they're required

Occasionally, the doctor can’t give you the medical certificate of cause of death immediately as they’re unsure of the precise cause or circumstance of death.

In this case, the doctor will refer the deceased to a coroner to investigate the death which may involve a post-mortem or inquest. Usually, the coroner will issue an interim death certificate so you can go ahead with funeral arrangements.

What is a coroner?

A coroner is a government official responsible for investigating and determining the cause of death in cases that are sudden, suspicious, violent, or unexpected.

A coroner will hold an inquest into the death and when necessary conduct autopsies, review medical records, interview witnesses, and gather evidence to determine the cause of death. The cause of death could be due to natural causes, an accident, or undetermined factors.

Coroners play a crucial role in the legal and justice systems by providing information necessary for criminal investigations, insurance claims, and public health monitoring.

When is a death reported to a coroner?

When a death occurs suddenly or unexpectedly, without a clear cause then they are often reported to the coroner. This includes deaths that happen at home, in public places, or in situations where the deceased was not in care.

Deaths that result from accidents, homicides, suicides, or any other form of violence are often reported to the coroner so a thorough investigation can be conducted.

Deaths that occur under unexplained or suspicious circumstances, even if they are not immediately perceived as violent, may also be reported to the coroner.

And finally, in cases where a death is believed to be a result of medical error or negligence, it may be reported to the coroner for further investigation

The will

The will is maybe the most important funeral document to be aware of when someone dies. The will is intended to distribute the estate of the deceased including personal possessions, property and finances, but it also may include information about how the deceased would like to have their funeral or information about a prepaid funeral plan.

A loved one's will can likely be found in their home, their bank, accountant or solicitor, or it can be found online. If you are unable to locate the will, those who live in England and Wales can use the government's service which allows you to search for a will online for £1.50.

The first thing that needs to be done is arrange an interview with the probate registry where they will go over legal documents and paperwork, setting up the executor (the person named in the will to sort out the estate) to deal with the affairs of the will. The executor will then work to distribute any assets and clear off the debts of the deceased.

Once probate has been granted, the will becomes a public document and can be read by everyone mentioned in the will. The executor will usually arrange a date for this to be read collectively.

How our caring team help with the paperwork

Distinct Cremations team

Whether a loved one has died or you're pre-planning, our customer service specialists will be on hand to help provide you with some guidance around all the funeral paperwork. Our team will:

  • Explain how to obtain a death certificate and medical certificate of cause of death
  • Detail what forms you need to complete before the cremation can take place and explain what each form means
  • Provide you with guidance on how to complete the cremation forms
  • Give you guidance around the will and what the next steps are
  • Answer any questions you may have regarding any funeral documents or paperwork

One of the UK’s best value direct cremation services, delivered with a caring and compassionate heart

Not only are our low cost funerals carried out with love and care, but we also offer one of the UK’s best value services.

From your very first phone call, right through to the hand delivery of the ashes, you can rest assured that you will be in the most caring and attentive hands with Distinct Cremations.


Our team will be on hand to help you complete the necessary paperwork as easily as possible.

Rhiannon Pearson

Team Leader

Alex
Rhiannon Pearson
steven customer service

Other helpful articles

Below are a few further articles that you may be interested in.

Arrange a funeral

Sue Arrange

At Distinct Cremations, we provide no fuss funerals which are simple to arrange, affordable and delivered with care, dignity and respect. Prices start from just £1,199 if you need to arrange a funeral today.

Arrange a funeral

Choosing a provider

Older couple looking at tablet

Choosing a funeral provider is never easy, so we've created a table comparing the best funeral providers' key features and inclusions to help you compare, contrast and choose the right funeral provider for you.

Compare funeral providers

Register a death

registering a death

It’s an unfortunate reality that when someone dies, there are legal formalities that need to be completed shortly after. In most cases, registering a death is straightforward. Let us guide you through each step you need to take.

How to register a death

We offer the highest level of support, but don't take our word for it

Below are a selection of reviews from those who followed their instinct with Distinct and chose to buy a funeral with us.

5/5
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Mark 21 May 2024
Excellent communication, very helpful and we got just what we wanted in a service. Highly recommended and we will use again. Mark Oliver
Anon 2 May 2024
Service very efficient, and comprehensive. Understandably, you "chased me up" when there was a delay in my response to place an order, but this delay was whilst I contacted all those relatives who might have had a view to express.
Anon 24 Apr 2024
I was very happy with the service I received and they are only a phone call away if I or my sons should need advice or help in any way
Wendy 8 Apr 2024
This is a good company, the cremation was dealt with very smoothly without any problems. The staff were very courteous and professional throughout. Everything was explained over the phone and they were very patient answering my questions. The ashes were delivered on time to my door. Highly recommended.
Anon 7 Apr 2024
They gave a superb service, they were very professional from start to finish, but also friendly and empathetic too, at what was a very difficult time for myself and the family
Anon 6 Apr 2024
Dee was lovely and understanding and advice was easy to understand
Anon 5 Apr 2024
Very kind and helpful lady. She talked me through everything that I asked her about.
Anon 1 Apr 2024
From the very first phone call I felt things were going to be handled well. Kindness compassion and helpful ness were shown throughout. I was kept informed about all the details and the person delivering the ashes was so respectful and kind taking the time to ask about my husbands life. This is who will handle my cremation.
5/5
Based on 711 reviews
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