What Happens When I Die

I know what has to be done by law upon a death, and it seems simple and easy – but is it too easy? I have questions that need answering, such as:

  • What if I die abroad and want to be buried/cremated back in Scotland?
  • What if I die in England and want to be buried/cremated back in Scotland?
  • What if I die in a hospital?
  • What if I die in a hospice or home?
  • What if I die at home?
  • What if the death is suspicious or mysterious?

I’ll give it a go tonight to find out the answers here.

My understanding is that if I die somewhere like a hospital, hospice or old folk’s home, then they can hold onto my body for a reasonable length of time – and usually arrange the Form 11/MCCD

If I die at home, I can be kept at home – in a cool space – for almost a week, but the first thing to do is get the Form 11/MCCD out of the way – that needs a GP to visit, or an ambulance can be called, but this might mean taking my body to hospital to get the Form 11/MCCD done there.

If I die abroad, there will be a local death certificate and registration has to be according to the regulations of that country. Although the local death certificate will be accepted in the UK, a certified translation into English might be required. Alternatively, the death can be registered with the UK authorities so that a record of the death will be sent to the National Records of Scotland and a consular death registration certificate can be ordered from New Register House. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/register-a-death/y/overseas.

If I die abroad on holiday, then travel insurance might cover repatriation – the cost of bringing my body home for burial. If it doesn’t, then the whole thing could be very expensive indeed.

If I die in another part of the UK, there will be a local death certificate and registration has to be according to the regulations of that country. So in England & Wales, for example, there are only five days to register the death there, not eight – even though my body may be shipped home to Scotland after getting authorisation for the removal of the body from the country of death

Suspicious or mysterious death complicates things a wee bit. The death needs to be referred to the Procurator Fiscal for an inquest. In England & Wales the Procurator Fiscal is called The Coroner. In either case, the death cannot be registered until the inquest is complete. I imagine this to be true if my death abroad was suspicious, it makes sense even though I cannot find any sound information on this online.

The Procurator Fiscal’s involvement is necessary when:

  • there is no doctor who can issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death
  • the deceased was not seen by the doctor issuing the medical certificate after death nor within 14 days before death
  • the cause of death is unknown
  • the cause of death is believed to be unnatural or suspicious
  • death occurred during an operation or before recovery from an aesthetic
  • death is due to industrial disease or industrial poisoning.

The Procurator Fiscal  can instruct an inquest or a port-mortem medical examination to establish the cause of death. The paperwork is usually done between the Procurators Fiscal’s office and the registrar.


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