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Guide to assist after death
 This is just a basicinformational guide to help you follow the procedure.

Immediately after the death.
A medical certificate showing the cause of death (form 11) must be obtained by the next of kin. If the death is at home the local doctor should be called and he or she will provide the certificate.

The doctor should be called immediately the death occurs even if during the night. If the death is in hospital a hospital doctor will provide the certificate. Normally these certificates are granted immediately. In a small minority of cases there may be unusual circumstances, such as in sudden or accidental deaths - and the certifying doctor may report matters to the Procurator Fiscal, who may order a
post mortem.

In the case of a natural death in hospital the authorities may request the next of kin’s consent to a post mortem examination to assist medical knowledge. At this point if the next of kin is aware of the deceased’s wish to donate organs or his or her remains for medical research the doctors should be advised immediately. If the next of kin is aware that the deceased wished to be cremated (this may be specified in any will that exists) the certifying doctor will obtain another certificate authorising this from another doctor.

Very soon after the death
Usually it is wise to call an undertaker – as soon as possible. Generally bereaved families find the guidance and support of undertakers invaluable at a difficult time.

Is there a will?
At this point the next of kin should try to establish if there is a will because the will
Will appoint an executor to deal with matters from now on. Frequently the
next of kin know of the will and may often be the same person(s) appointed to make the
arrangements.

If there is no will 
Relatives could take the role of executor; the law sets oUt a strict order of preference.
 However no one can be compelled to take on therole of executor,
 and an unwilling relative may decline to take the post even if he or
she is first in the legal order of preference.

Registering the Death
Any death occurring in Scotland must be registered with the Register of Births Marriages and Deaths within 8 days of the death. There is a wide range of people who may register the death but again it is usually done by close next of kin. There are registrars offices all over Scotland and the death can be registered either in the registry area where the death occurred or in the registry area where the deceased lived.

If calling to register a death next of kin should take with them the medical certificate of death (form 11), the deceased’s marriage and birth certificates, their NHS medical certificate, and any documents showing state pensions or benefits payable to the deceased. The next of kin will be expected to give the registrar full details of the deceased’s spouse or civil partner.

Once the death is registered, the person registering it will receive a certificate which will be needed for the funeral to proceed, a certificate enabling state pension and benefit issues to be dealt with, and for a further fee extracts of the registration of death certificate which will help in dealing with the property of the deceased.

Arranging the funeral
This can be daunting and most people rely heavily on the help and guidance of the funeral directors
at this point. Here are just a few things which need to be decided:

  • Is there to be a ceremony of some type?
  • Is there to be cremation or interment?
  • What dates and timescales are appropriate?
  • What notices are to be placed in the papers?
  • Is there to be a minister’s address?
  • Are there relatives to be informed?
  • What arrangements for flowers should there be?
  • Is there to be an address by a friend or relative?
  • Where will everything take place?
  • What are the costs likely to be?

But eventually all these decisions are made, and many Scottish funerals follow a similar pattern and so help with the arrangements is available.