Death is an extremely difficult time in life where there are many decisions to be made at a time of considerable personal stress. If you have recently lost someone close to you or know someone who has recently been bereaved, here we guide you through some of the immediate things that you must do following a death in Ireland and highlight some of the state and voluntary services here to support you.
Whether a death in Ireland is anticipated or unexpected, essentially the same steps are followed concerning organising funeral arrangements, registering the death and liaising with state services.
Immediately following the death
It is necessary to make sure that everyone who dies in Irelandis identified and the cause of death is established. If a death occurred suddenly and unexpected, you may need to notify the Gardai and the Coroner.
You should also notify the next of kin, family doctor (GP) and the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. If the deceased was an organ donor, you must act quickly if you are their nearest relative.
Funeral directors and undertakers in Ireland deal with the arrangements regarding the burial or cremation. They can organise everything from the burial plot to religious services if you wish.
Registering the death
To register a death, you must bring a medical certificate stating the cause of death to the local Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. Read more about how to register a death in the next section. If the doctor did not see the deceased at least 28 days before the death occurred or if the doctor is unhappy about the cause of death, he/she must inform a Coroner who will decide if a post-mortem is necessary. If after the post-mortem a cause of death cannot be established, an inquest may be held.
If you are the parents of a stillborn child, you are not legally obliged to register the death. You may, however, do so within 42 days of the birth.
If the bereaved include orphans under the age of 18 years, immediate arrangements have to be made for them. Generally, family members take care of orphan children until long-term arrangements are made. If there are no family members to do this, the HSE Local Health Office needs to be informed and it will make any arrangements necessary to care for the children.
Access to money
You may need to get access to the deceased person’s money to help pay for funeral expenses. It’s not easy to get access to money in a bank or building society unless it is in a joint account. If the money is in the deceased’s name only, then you usually can’t get access to it until probate is taken out. (See legal issues following a death below).
There are a number of social welfare benefits and grants available following a death that you may not be aware of. For example, you may also have questions about pension rights, insurance policies, taxation of income and inheritance. These issues are covered in our section on Financial concerns, benefits and entitlements relating to death. The Revenue Commissioners have some useful information on taxation following bereavement.
If you are experiencing financial difficulties following bereavement, there are supports such as the Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) available to help. MABS is a free, confidential service staffed by trained money advisors who can provide advice and assistance during this difficult time.
Legal issues following a death
There are a number of legal issues associated with a death. You may find what may happen to the deceased person’s estate particularly useful as it explains issues such as access to money, the family home and legal shares of children. Power of attorney is a legal device that can be set up during your lifetime, in the event you become incapacitated or unable to deal with your affairs. In dealing with the deceased’s estate we explain all about how to take out probate, duties of executors, dealing with debt, etc. See our legal section for further information.
Housing and daily living
It’s very important to notify some particular organisations in writing following a death. If the deceased held a mortgage you must get in touch with the financial institution where the deeds/mortgage is held to notify them of the death. If the deceased lived in rented accommodation, the landlord/local authority needs to be notified so names can be changed on tenancy agreements.
It’s essential to get in touch with the deceased’s bank or building society to cancel any direct debits from any accounts and if the deceased held any insurance policies, to notify all insurers.
It can be upsetting when bills/statements/subscriptions arrive in the name of a deceased person following a death. Cancel ongoing subscriptions and if the deceased lived alone – redirect any post to the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate.
If the deceased held a driving licence, contact your local authority and if they were in receipt of any benefits, contact the relevant Government department or agency. It’s also useful to get in touch with any social clubs and professional/trade organisations
Registering a Death in Ireland
It is a legal requirement inIrelandthat every death that takes place in the State must be recorded and registered. Records of deaths inIrelandare held in the General Register Office, which is the central civil repository for records relating to Births, Marriages and Deaths inIreland. You can apply for a copy of a death certificate to any Registrar of Births, Marriages and Death or to the General Register Office.
The Civil Registration Act 2004 changed some of the rules about registering a death. These changes took effect from December 2005.
A death can be registered with any Registrar, irrespective of where it occurs. Deaths must be registered as soon as possible after the death and no later than three months. It is usually registered by the next of kin. Alternatively, it may be registered by a person who was present during the death or final illness of the deceased, or by a near neighbour or, failing that, by the undertaker.
There is no charge to register a death that occurs inIreland. Fees are charged for a copy of a death certificate.
A certificate is issued for social welfare purposes at a reduced cost. Evidence it is for social welfare purposes is required, such as a note from the Department of Social Protection.
The fees charged for a certificate are as follows:
- €10 for a full standard certificate (€8 per extra copy)
- €1 for a full, short copy (for social welfare purposes)
- €6 for an uncertified copy of an entry in the Register (€4 per extra copy)
- €20 for a full, authenticated copy of a birth certificate (only available from the General Register Office)
How to register a death
To register a death, you must bring a Death Notification Form stating the cause of death to any Registrar. You can get this from the doctor who attended the deceased during his/her last illness. You must complete Part 2 of the Death Notification Form. You must then sign the Register in the presence of the Registrar. This registration is free.
A doctor must be satisfied about the cause of death before he/she can certify it. If he/she didn’t see the deceased at least 28 days before the death occurred, or if he/she isn’t satisfied about the cause of death, he/she must inform a Coroner who will decide if a post-mortem is necessary. If the deceased died as the result of an accident, or in violent or unexplained circumstances the coroner must be informed. There may be a delay in registering a death where a post-mortem is carried out. The death is automatically registered where an inquest or post-mortem is held at the request of the Coroner. The Coroner issues a certificate to the Registrar containing all the details to be registered. Deaths should be registered as soon as possible and no later than 3 months from the date of the death. You will require the written permission of the Registrar General to register any death that was not registered within one year.
You can approach any Registrar to get a copy of a Death Certificate. If you are registering the death, you can get copies of the Death Certificate at the same time. There is a reduced fee for those who need the Death Certificate for social welfare purposes. You do not necessarily have to wait for the Death Certificate before claiming social welfare benefits, as a copy of the Death Notice from the newspapers will be accepted if there is a delay in getting the certificate.
You should approach a maternity hospital or your local Registrar for information on how to register a stillborn child.
An application form for a copy of a Death Certificate is available from the General Register Office.
You can also apply online for a copy of a certificate.
Where to Apply
Contact information for Registrars of Births, Marriages and Deaths throughout Ireland is available on the HSE’s website and from your Local Health Office.
Application for late registration only should be made to:
General Register Office
Tel: +353 90 663 2900
Locall: 1890 25 20 76
Fax: +353 90 663 2999