How do you find out if someone has passed away?

In most cases, you’re likely to hear the news directly from close family or friends of the deceased.

If not, you may find out through an announcement in the local paper. There are also online platforms that publish details of recent deaths.

Does everyone have a funeral notice?

Funeral notices are dedicated pages commemorating someone’s death (they’re usually published online). In many ways, funeral notices are similar to an obituary, providing personal information about the deceased (for example, if they’re leaving behind a partner, spouse or children). Obituaries and funeral notices often include any funeral arrangements and may state whether or not it is open to all or by invitation only.

Death notices are simpler announcements that usually only specify who has died, alongside their date of birth, date of death and where they passed away.

Death notices and obituaries are not a legal requirement so not everyone who passes away will have one. However, most solicitors will recommend that you advertise the death of a loved one as part of the probate process. This can help ensure that any creditors come forward so that debts can be repaid from the deceased’s estate.

If you don’t advertise the death and someone comes forward later and says the deceased owed them money, you may be responsible for paying them back.

How do I find out someone’s funeral date?

Naturally, if you’re invited to a funeral, details will be sent to you. Funerals that are open to anyone who knew the deceased will often be advertised locally in newspapers or even village newsletters if you have one.

Some funeral directors list recent and upcoming funerals (for example, Co-operative Funeralcare). If you know where the deceased lived and died, you can also contact local funeral homes for information.

Otherwise, you may be able to find details of a funeral online at sites such as:

How do I find a death announcement?

Death announcements are usually made in local newspapers in the births, deaths and marriages section. Otherwise, you’ll usually be informed by friends and family of the deceased.

How long after someone dies is the funeral?

Generally, a funeral takes place between one and two weeks after the person has passed away. That said, it can depend on a number of factors, including:

  • How quickly a funeral director can be found and for arrangements to be made.
  • The type of service (if any) the deceased wanted.
  • Whether the deceased’s religion has any guidelines or suggestions about when they should be buried or cremated.
  • The deceased’s preferences – for example, burial arrangements may take longer to arrange than a cremation.
  • Whether or not there needs to be an inquest into the death, if so, arrangements may not be possible until after this is complete.

Who arranges the funeral when someone dies?

Funerals are usually arranged by close family members or a close friend with the help of a funeral director.

Funeral directors oversee burials and cremations and will manage the process on behalf of the deceased’s loved ones. Funeral directors don’t need a licence to operate in the UK, but there are two trade bodies that help ensure members work to particular standards and abide by codes of practice:

It’s worth noting that you don’t need to hire a funeral director (although this is what most people do). If you would prefer to explore all your options, you can also take independent funeral advice from the charity, The Natural Death Centre.

funeral director talking to couple

What happens if the deceased has no one to arrange a funeral?

If someone passes away and has no one to arrange a funeral, the local authority has a duty of care to oversee arrangements under the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984.

Although it’s their duty to organise a funeral, local authorities are relatively free to work to their own policies about how they are carried out. One of the few rules they must follow is that they should not cremate the deceased if there is any reason to think that this would be against the deceased’s wishes (for example, because of religious grounds).

Councils also have the right to recover the cost of the funeral from the deceased’s estate.

What is a funeral plan?

A funeral plan is when you arrange and pay for your own funeral in advance. You can buy a plan from most funeral directors or funeral plan providers.

Funeral plans typically give you a choice of basic, standard and comprehensive packages. What’s included in each will vary by provider so if there’s something you particularly want, check to see if it’s included or if you need to pay extra for it. Areas to consider, include:

  • Whether you’re limited to using a funeral director listed by the provider.
  • If there are restrictions as to when a funeral service can be held.
  • What the package includes, for instance, a basic policy may not give you a choice of coffin and a standard may have a choice of three or four. A comprehensive plan will usually enable you to have a coffin of your choice (such as solid wood).
  • Whether any extras are included, for example, transport, headstone, flowers.

If you decide to buy a funeral plan, check that the provider is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and listed on the Financial Services Register. You should do the same if you already have a plan in place.

If you find that your existing funeral plan provider is not on the Financial Services Register, the FCA has a list of firms that are in the process of ceasing trading or who have transferred plans to other providers. If you’ve bought a funeral plan from any of the firms listed, you should have been notified already. If not, the FCA also has details of who you should contact.  

How do I pay for a funeral plan?

You can pay for your funeral plan in one go or in instalments . If you can, it can work out more economical to pay for it upfront. Monthly instalments might be more convenient, but you’ll normally end up paying interest which can increase the overall cost considerably.

If you decide to pay in instalments, make sure you’re aware of what happens if you pass away while you still have an outstanding balance. Under FCA rules, your loved ones will either get back the premiums you’ve paid, or your funeral arrangements will be honoured by the plan provider. 

Is an over-50s plan the same as a funeral plan?

No, funeral plans aren’t the same as an over-50s plan.

Funeral plans can only be used to pay for your funeral. If you have an over-50s plan, you leave money to your beneficiaries who can then use it for a variety of things. For example, it can be used to pay any outstanding debts you leave behind, it could be left as a gift, or it can be put towards your funeral costs.  

For more guidance about over-50s plans or life insurance policies, these insights can help you weigh up what might be right for you: