If you are reading this post, it is likely someone – someone close to you – has died and you are responsible for what happens next. So the first thing you need to do is not panic.
Have you contacted any of the following:
If the death did not take place in a hospital, you must contact the local doctor. Do not move anything until an official pronouncement of death has been made by the doctor.
Relax, take some deep breaths and sit down with a pen and paper. The next few days will pass you by so fast but the important thing to remember is that, although there seems like a lot to do, you are already on the right track. So what needs to be done right now, this instant? This depends on what stage you are at, so first things first: what have you done so far?
• Hospital / local doctor?
• Garda Síochána (Irish police force)?
• Funeral director (mortician / undertaker);
• Religious group;
Next, do you know whether the deceased held an organ donor card? If so, inform the doctor immediately (for more information on organ donation, see POST).
You must contact the Garda Síochána if the death occurred at home in Ireland. A coroner will be called if it was a sudden or unusual death. Do not be afraid or concerned if a coroner
is called. A coroner in Ireland is an independent official person with a legal responsibility to establish the ‘who, when, where and how’ of sudden or unexplained deaths. This may require a post-mortem examination, sometimes followed by an inquest.
Most people in Ireland responsible for arranging a funeral contact a funeral director for help with the arrangements. If you know that the deceased person left burial wishes with a particular undertaker or funeral planner, you should contact that undertaker or planner so they can put the deceased’s wishes into action immediately. Otherwise, you must now choose an undertaker or decide to make the funeral arrangements independently.
If it was the deceased’s wish to be buried, find out whether a burial plot has been pre-purchased and determine its exact location. If you are using a funeral director, they can help you with this. If not, contact the deceased’s solicitor or check their file where they kept important documents. If the deceased was a member of a religious group and you are not familiar with the traditions or rites that should be followed following their death, you should contact a representative of the group for guidance.
The deceased’s solicitor should be notified of the death of one of their clients so they can work on the legal implications of the death – in particular, to release any burial wishes or pre-arrangements noted in the person’s will. The will also specifies who is to serve as the executor or personal representative of the deceased. The executor is responsible for making sure that all creditors are paid, estate tax returns are filed and the remaining assets distributed according to the will. If the deceased died intestate (without a will), usually a surviving spouse, if there is one, or an adult child or parent will take on this role. Contact the next-of-kin, especially those abroad who may have to make travel arrangements. Close friends, relatives, neighbours, employers, classmates, and colleagues of the deceased should be notified as soon as possible. The best way to ensure that everyone is notified is to gather a small group of close relatives or friends of the deceased and ask them to start a ‘chain of calls’ to people in the wider community who need to know.
If the deceased person was employed, you will need to contact their employer.
If the deceased person was receiving a State pension, you will need to contact the Pensions Office. Others to notify in the days following a death include State authorities, the health service, insurance agencies and financial institutions. In most cases, you will need to provide a death certificate (see below) – usually an original, not a photocopy, so make sure you get plenty of certificates when
you register the person’s death – to prove the person’s death.
You also may need a letter from the deceased’s solicitor confirming that you are the executor (if that is the case) or have authority to act on behalf of the deceased.
To register a death, and to obtain a death certificate, which you will need later for all sorts of purposes, you must bring a medical certificate or death notification form issued by a doctor stating the cause of death to the local Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. One exception is that, if you are the parent of a stillborn child, you are not legally obliged to register the death.
There is no charge to register a death that occurs in Ireland. Fees are charged for copies of the death certificate. Contact information for Registrars of Births, Marriages and Deaths throughout Ireland is also available on the HSE’s website (www.hse.ie) and from your Local Health Office.
Although not urgent, it is important to remember to:
• Inform the deceased person’s bank, building society or
• Cancel any direct debits or standing orders that are no
• Cancel reservations made by the deceased for holidays,
flights, theatre, etc and enquire about any refunds that
may be due;
• Change the name on the house deeds (the solicitor will
• If the deceased person was living in rented
accommodation, arrange to have the name on the
tenancy agreement changed or cancel the agreement;
• Change the name on household utility bills;
• Contact An Post to re-direct post to the executor or
solicitor or to hold it for collection at a later date.