What to do after a death in Scotland ... practical advice for times of bereavement: 9th Edition

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PART I. FROM THE TIME OF DEATH TO THE FUNERAL

1. FIRST THINGS TO BE DONE

If someone dies at home, you should:

  • Contact the family doctor (see section 3).
  • Contact the nearest relative(s).
  • Contact the police if the death was violent, accidental, unexpected, if there are unusual circumstances or if the cause of death is not known. If the police are called, do not touch or move anything in the home (see section 4).
  • Contact the relevant minister of religion.
  • If the dead person wanted to donate their body, or body parts (such as organs), you will need to contact a doctor quickly.
  • Contact a funeral director (undertaker) who will arrange for the laying out of the body.
  • Find out if there is a will, and if so, where it is and who is responsible for dealing with it (see sections 10 and 11).

If someone dies in hospital:

The Charge Nurse or the police will contact the nearest relative or next of kin and arrange a convenient time for them to attend the hospital.

If you are the nearest relative or next of kin, you may be asked to:

  • Identify the body, if the person was not a patient of the hospital.
  • Consider authorising a post-mortem examination, although such authorisation is not needed when a post-mortem is legally required (see section 4.).
  • Provide the documents needed to allow you to take away any personal possessions.
  • Tell the hospital staff if you know that the person wanted to donate parts of their body for transplantation. More details are given in section 2.
  • Let the hospital staff know if the body is to be donated to medical science (see section 6 for more information).
  • Contact a funeral director (undertaker) who will arrange for the laying out of the body.
  • Find out if there is a will, and if so, where it is and who is responsible for dealing with it (see sections 10 and 11).
  • Get a death certificate.