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Registering death - Carers UK Forum

Registering death

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114 posts
And I mean that in more ways than one. I’ve been writing about mum’s lead up to death yesterday in the Dementia section, basically as a form of therapy; and it’s really helped.

But I don’t think that’s appropriate anymore as mum, who had dementia (amongst other things) is now dead. So I’ve started a new topic.

I’m still registering that mum is dead. Just one example. Dad wanted to know some detail of one of mum’s relatives. I didn’t know, so said, “We’d better ask mum.”
A few seconds later it hits you in the stomach that you can’t because she’s dead.

As if emotionally registering the death of a loved one you’ve cared for 24/7 for nearly 3 years isn’t bad enough, you then have to physically register the death.

This should be a simple enough process. But for dad and me, the god’s of burocracy (I’ve given up on the spell checker for that word) decided otherwise… it’s been an absolute bloody nightmare. I’ve had the help and backing of the Coroner in trying to sort this out, and I don’t think it being Christmas helped.

I’d better start at the beginning.

Mum died, doctor confirms death, we can pick up Death Certificate at 3pm, which dad picked up.

I then ring the register’s office to book an appointment (you can’t just turn up there) and managed to secure the last slot for 10.30am today.
As far as I understand it, once the death has been registered, you get some green paper which you give to the Funeral directors which means they can go ahead and prepare mum for viewing. Also you get copies of the DC (Death Certificate) for banks and stuff.

Dad and me turn up at the Registers Office. All is going well until this lady sticks her head around the door and mentions something to do with coroner.

The lady dealing with us apologises and rings back the coroner. Dad and me shrug at one another thinking it’s got nothing to do with us.

Then she mentioned mum’s name. I felt like I’d been hit by electricity.

She refused to enter the death because the doc had put heart failure as cause of death, and that’s not good enough.

We were sent away with a bunch of phone numbers.

I was reeling a bit at this point, but I told dad on the way back to drop me off at the funeral directors so I could let them know of this complication, and he was to get onto the blower to the health centre ASAP.

It now gets really manic. I still don’t know what really happened. When I got back all sorts of phone calls had been happening everywhere. Doctors ringing the coroner, the coroner ringing the register office… you name it.

I could see my father sinking so I took the phone of him and spoke to the coroner myself.

At some point, I don’t know where, we’d been booked another appointment with the registry office.

To his credit, he did apologise for the communication breakdown.

He then wanted to hold an inquest, which meant he’d have to do some stuff over phone and then turn up at some court by 2pm (it was 12.40pm at this point.)

My gut instinct screamed NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

I asked him wouldn’t it be simpler just for him to ask the doc to issue us with a correctly worded Death Certificate, and we turn up for our new appointment and take it from there.

He pulled his weigh, and we now have a new Death Certificate. Dad picked it up at 1.30pm.

There’s nothing we can do with it till Tuesday; but were getting there.

There was a bit when I was talking to coroner that went a bit mad; I was shushing my dad.

He wanted to know where my mum was born. I said Ipswich. He wanted to know how that was spelt.

I replied, “I put some water in Chalie’s hat.”

Mum came out with that whenever we couldn’t spell Ipswich.

It’s weird the things that jump into your mind.

Anyway, we’ve now got a new death certificate, plus the full details of the coroner if the registry office tries to give us more grief.

I think normal grief is enough.
Oh Sajehar, what a day. I can't believe "heart failure " is inadequate. It's not that many years ago when "Old age" sufficed as a course of death. Maybe running around and doing something practical, however frustrating is actually not a bad thing especially at this time of year. I hope things runs smoothly once offices are open for business again.
Your doctor should have managed better than that, given all the problems you'd had. He owes you grovelling apologies! Can I suggest that once the green form is signed, you send a "round robin" letter to everyone on your Christmas card list, just the bare essentials

" I regret to tell you...

Then say who the funeral director is, and that they should ring the funeral director, NOT YOU, for details of the funeral. Don't forget to put a death notice in the paper asap, giving the FD's name, and to contact them.

Then think if you want everyone to bring flowers, or whether it's family flowers and donations to the Alzheimer's Society or whatever. Much better than being asked after the funeral what you want to happen to the flowers. Sometimes they suggest the local old folks home, which seems a bit macabre to me, given the fact that those old folks' days are numbered!

It takes the brain a long time to soak up what has happened. For months after my OH died, I got two mugs out to make cocoa at bedtime, utterly stupid given the fact that I'd spent most of the day sorting things out. Just accept this. And start writing things down as the "fog" of grief can be really trying, forgetting everything.

I put all the paperwork in a ring binder, most important at the top. I promised myself I'd do one job a day. Somehow, I couldn't grieve properly until I'd got the paperwork sorted. That's what a life dealing with records does to you.

As always, these are only ideas from my own experience, ignore anything which doesn't resonate with you.

When clearing one relatives house, I took a really irrational dislike to all the medical aids that had crept into the house. Make sure you ask the District Nurse or Social Services to take them away asap if you and/or dad find them distressing to see. With the holiday in progress, it's unlikely to happen before the New Year. Thinking of you.
Dad and me agree on the music for mum’s funeral.

I know, and dad knows, her passion was some trumpet player called Eddie Calvet. So we’ve settled on “Apple pink and blossom white” for the introductory music. That reflects mum’s passion for her garden.

Her send off could be no other than, “Oh my Papa” her fave of all time.

It was pointed out to us that sending off a moma to “Oh my papa” was a bit weird.

But I said It’s her favourite song, and anyway, I’ll just ask everybody to substitute a M for a P, and then It’ll be perfect.

For the middle song we settled on Jerusalem….Mum loved that song with a passion.

God knows what the Civic celebrant is going to make of that miss-mash?
Our civic celebrant for mum did brilliantly. Some of the family were Muslim so we didn't want a C of E service, but something we could all relate too. Now I wish I'd recorded what he'd said, it was that good. It was all related to mum, he'd picked up so much information when he interviewed us as an extended family, and at times he even had us laughing a bit. It's your mum, it can be whatever you want it to be. For my OH's flowers on the coffin, I chose all his favourites, but the florist, who knew us well, pointed out that they were generally considered more suitable for a female. I just said that they were his favourites, so they were the ones he was going to have with him on his final journey. He was also wearing his favourite shirt, shoes, and trousers, the ones he'd worn so happily to Australia a few months before he passed away. He hated suits. Hope sharing this helps in some way.
Sounds like you had a nightmare of an ordeal at there registry office. When you do manage to get to the second appointment, take the registrar up on their offer to complete the 'tell us once' service. This is the automated online system that they can complete on your behalf, that will inform all the national govt agencies, and local councils etc. Which will save you a mountain of paperwork and frustrating phone calls.
(The days in limbo waiting to get that precious green form for the funeral director was so far the worse few days of the past month)

Bowlingbun's suggestion on the folder for the paperwork, is a great piece of advice, I took her advice, and 4 weeks on, it's helped sorting out all the burocratic nonsense that follows. There was something new and official landing on the doorstep every morning.

I hope you get as good a celebrantant as I did (came recommended by the funeral director) they won't judge the music, I chose some really odd stuff ranging from bagpipes to Neil Sedaka (though it could be said, that when the wife was alive we were a bit of an odd couple)
Our celebrant for my dad's funeral was my cousin's husband who happened to be the Moderator of the Church of Scotland. Dad had decorated his study for him years ago and cousins husband was going to pay him for it and dad told him "Just you speak at my funeral" so that's what he did even though dad wasn't religious and didn't go to church.

Eun
Ian W

I read one of your threads in the Former Carers section. Really, really helpful.

Regarding my understanding of the DWP one stop thing, the death register will give me a reference number and the appropriate DWP number to ring in order to get mum’s small state pension (she had no other ones) and her Attendance Allowance stopped.

I know what you mean about that Limbo waiting for the Green Paper to be issued allowing a burial/cremation to go ahead.

Can anyone help me with the following questions? I’ve looked stuff upon the web but I’m still a little confused… brain fog!

Mum died intestate without a will. Mum and dad both own the house jointly. It has no mortgage on it. According to the gov website, dad now automatically owns the house. But it gave no info on how to change the deeds. Do we contact the land registry or what?

They had a joint bank account, but one that only required one signature to draw on it. Does dad need to make an appointment with the bank manger give them a copy of the death certificate or what?

Mum has no insurance policies/debts, etc. Her effects are basically clothes. She’s practically been a recluse for 20 years because of her arthritis, and dad took care of all bills, etc, in his name only.

Any advice, pointers, hints, tips would be very gratefully received. In a weird kind of way concentrating on this practical stuff is actually helping me.

I feel so lost otherwise, like I’m being cut off from a line (like somebody floating in outer space connected only by some line.)
This practical stuff is somehow “grounding” me.

But grief makes you do some weird stuff. Basically, because I’ve been concentrating so much on mum I’ve rather let myself go. I had no decent clothes for Christmas dinner. All my trousers were worn at the knees, or, if in good nick, too tight as I’d put on weight.
So I decided to wear the rather smart slacks I’d bought mum last year; she only wore them the once. Mum would approve of that.
I also wore her favourite cardie. A designer jobbie I’d bought her about 4 Xmas years ago. She’d complained to me that she didn’t like ‘old women’s pastel colours’ like beige and lavender. She wanted strong bright colours.
So I picked up this designer zip up cardie in bright red and black (a bit like a Mondrian painting) for mum in the sales. She loved it.

So I ended up going to my bro’s Xmas dinner decked out in mum’s old clothes! But it felt right somehow.

Plus I got it into my head I should trim my hair. No chance of getting a proper hair dresser to do it at such short notice over the hols so I, stupidly, decided to do it myself. How difficult can this be…. Very, as it turned out.

By the time I’d finished hacking at my hair, I looked like an aging urchin… not quite the look I was after. It was so uneven, it defied belief.

Fortunately, my niece came to my rescue, and trimmed it to look even, if not deep and crisp, like St Steven.
NEVER try to cut your own hair; there’s a reason hair dressers/barbers exist.

Here I am wittering on about hair cuts. All I wanted to do was look my best for mum (my hair was straw)

Actually, it rather suits me. The short back and sides that is, not the god awful mess I made of it.

I feel a bit like a nun.
Hi Sajehar, How are you?

You are right, having something to do does help - but do make sure that if there is a break in the weather you take yourself off for a little walk or something. Maybe take Dad out for a cuppa somewhere nice - take a flask if you have to!

On this: "According to the gov website, dad now automatically owns the house. But it gave no info on how to change the deeds. Do we contact the land registry or what?"
I know you are very web-savvy, but just in case you (or anyone else looking in for info.) have not noticed, there are some sharp operators who are advertising sites at the top of a Google Land Registry search, who are NOT the Land Registry. Make sure you get the gov.uk one.

My circumstances were different so do not directly apply, but I would think you would need a conveyancer (not necessarily a solicitor, but they might work for a solicitor) to sort this out for you. There are different forms of shared ownership which might cause confusion, too.

The bank will need to see the death certificate - I found it easiest to pop in to a local branch to ask how to sort it.

It was recommended to me to get a few copies of the death certificate, so I didn't have to keep waiting for it back or risk losing only one in the post. You won't need so many (I had a number of organisations to inform) but a spare is always good and easier to get at the time.

Sorry, must go, look after yourself and Dad, still thinking of you!
It's OK to do whatever feels right for you. When you register the death, ask for about four copies of the death certificate. Then send one to the bank. with a simple letter.

"Dear XXX

Mrs... Address....DOB

I regret to inform you that my mother xxx passed away on xxx.

A copy of the death certificate is enclosed, please copy for your records, and return it to me asap.

In this way you can send three to the most important people first. They will then write a letter back to you, and then tell you if you need to do anything.

Ask the bank to issue new bank cheque books in dad's sole name. He can go on using the account without any problem.

Send another to the Land Registry. There may be a small charge. My mum's solicitor dealt with them, as there was a slight complication in her case.

I found that the "Tell Us Once" service wasn't that brilliant. If you take a copy of the certificate into your local DWP, it will be quicker. Mum's took a while to be processed so the DWP paid more money into her bank account. Then I had snotty letters demanding it back!

Hope that helps.
114 posts