How do I arrange a funeral when someone dies?

When someone dies, your reaction is often unexpected. Sometimes the death may be expected, but nothing prepares you for the emotional shock of losing someone close. Staff at family-run and managed Harold Wood Funeral Services have spent seven decades helping families to organise funerals. We have made it easy for people to be listened to and receive advice about the arrangements when needed.

You can telephone us at any time, or visit us in person during working hours at one of our four offices (including on a Saturday morning). Please let us know before if you can which office you would prefer to use.

On first getting in touch with us there will be a few basic questions to go through. If the Deceased has died at home or in a residential home we can organise the immediate transferral of that person into our care. (If the death happened in a hospital this may take a few days.) During office hours we can help you make detailed plans, give you an accurate detailed estimate for services requested and produce paperwork for signing.

General Questions & Answers

The date of the funeral and other provisional arrangements can be made at your earliest convenience, before registration. They are often made by the next of kin, or an executor of a Will if one exists – but for the funeral to take place, registration and funeral paperwork has to be in place some days before the funeral. Usually the next of kin will register, or if not possible, somebody else by arrangement with the Registrar (see further on).

If death was expected, usually the next of kin or other responsible person will contact the Hospital Bereavement Office in working hours for the Medical Cause of Death Certificate.

This is taken to the local Registrar in the area where death occurred, who will then issue copies of Death Certificates (more details in further pages).

The hospital needs to know if a cremation will be taking place for particular forms to be filled in. Usually we are permitted to take the Deceased into our care after death registration, during working hours.

– If the death was not expected, there will be Coroner's involvement. If a Coroner is involved it is often for only a few days, during which time the Coroner's Officer keeps relatives informed of the situation.

Funeral Choices

You do not need to have registered a death at the appropriate Registrars in order to begin making funeral arrangements with us. We do need the certificate for burial or cremation (a green form) – issued by the Registrar alongside death certificates – as soon as you have registered.

We will ask you to choose different elements of the funeral, and offer advice to you if you have not already decided upon – such questions as:

  • Will there be a burial or a cremation?
  • For burials is there is an existing grave you would like to use and is permission available from the grave owner?
  • Would anyone in the family like to view the Deceased in an open coffin in a chapel of rest?
  • If you have a celebrant or minister in mind, what sort of person would you like to lead the service (it does not have to be a religious service)? And what do you want in the service?
  • Where would you like the service to be held, and would you like it longer than 30 minutes?
  • What kind of music would you like within the service? For example, the gathering’s entry, reflection, sung hymns if wanted, committal curtains at a cremation (curtains are optional), and exit – high quality recorded music of your choice is often provided at crematorium chapels; you may like an organist or other musician (sometimes extra fees are involved); do family and friends want to make a spoken or read contribution at the service?

Please note – All these points can also be discussed more thoroughly with a celebrant/minister.

  • Do you want a donations box made available at the service for charitable contributions?
  • Where would you like our Mercedes hearse to meet you and your family; do you need any limousines (each seats 6 people comfortably); and where do you plan to go when the service is over?
  • What type of coffin or casket you would like to choose? (You can look at our website in advance for different designs).
  • What time of the day you would consider? Funerals often start any time from 8.30am to 4.30pm if a cremation, for burials maybe from 9.45am to 2.30pm depending on daylight; funerals can cost considerably less if they start before 10am, especially for cremations; some costs are increased if you choose a service longer than 30 minutes, or have a service in a church, and then go on to a cemetery or crematorium a distance away, or if you choose a possible weekend time – Having a late morning or mid afternoon funeral can be better for timing lunch rather than midday services.
  • Would you like an announcement in a local newspaper (we offer a small announcement free of charge)? A local paper commemorative website entry for 11 months is usually included.
  • Do you need an invoice in advance of the funeral so that it can be taken directly to the Deceased's bank with a Death Certificate for release of funeral expenses, thus benefitting from an early payment discount?
  • If you already have a time planned or booked to visit a Registrar, (see further on) it will be easier to make a definite funeral booking as paperwork deadlines will be easier to predict, (often around a week) but can be less or more time, depending on many variables, where family wishes are taken into account.
  • Two signatories are usually needed for our forms, with identification, so it is useful for at least two responsible people to attend, one of whom should be an executor if possible, or next of kin. Applicants must be aged 18 or over. Please let us know if the next of kin is in receipt of DWP benefits or is in full-time education, or not a UK resident.

Please let us know if you would like a home visit by calling us on: 0800-731-1855.

About Death Registeration

Find out more about Death Registration at:

In England and Wales, you normally need to register the death within five days. It's best to go to the register office in the area where the person died, as otherwise it may take longer to get the documents you need and this could delay the funeral. It will take about half an hour to register the death.

To find out which Register Office you need to go to, for the area in which the person died, please go to this Government website .

Who can register a death

If the person died in a house or hospital, the death can be registered by a relative, or someone present at the death, or an occupant of the house, or an official from the hospital, or the person making the arrangements with the funeral directors.

Documents and information you will need

When registering a death, you'll need to take the Medical Cause of Death Certificate (issued by a doctor) and, if available – the birth certificate, marriage or civil partnership certificate, NHS Medical Card.

Information Needed

You'll need to tell the registrar the person's full name at time of death, any names previously used, including maiden surname, the person's date and place of birth (town and county if born in the UK and country if born abroad), their last address, their occupation, the full name, date of birth and occupation of a surviving spouse or civil partner and if they were getting a state pension or any other state benefit.

Documents and help you will receive

If a post-mortem is not being held, the registrar will give you:

  • a certificate for burial or cremation (called the 'green form'), giving permission for the body to be buried, or to apply for the body to be cremated a Certificate of Registration of Death (Form BD8), issued for social security purposes if the person was on a state pension or benefits (read the information on the back, complete and return it, if it applies) You’ll be able to buy one or more Certified Copies of Death Registration at this time (usually £4 each). These will be needed by an executor or administrator when sorting out the person's affairs. It is best to get more than you think you need at the time.
  • The Registrar will also give you a booklet called "What to do after a death", with advice on wills, funerals and financial help. You can download a copy from
  • You may need to tell a number of different government departments and agencies about the death. The registrar can advise you on how to go about this. Some local authorities have started offering a new service to help you report a death, and the registrar will let you know if it’s available in your area.

Register Offices Nearby

Click below for contact information on register offices near you.

Appointments Direct line: 01277 233565; or Essex County Council: 0845 603 7632 1/2 Seven Arches Road, Brentwood, Essex CM14 4JG. Visit their website »