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When someone dies in Ireland

Overview

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.

The loss or death of someone they care for, can be deeply distressing for a child. Irrespective of whether this loss was anticipated or sudden, children deal with bereavement in different ways. Barnardos provides a counselling service for children who have lost someone close to them which may be of assistance.

Sudden or unexpected deaths can be very difficult to deal with. There is a range of organisations in Ireland that provide bereavement counselling services to anyone who has been recently bereaved in Ireland. You may find these counselling services useful during this difficult time.

Immediately following the death

It is necessary to make sure that everyone who dies in Ireland is 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. Read more about organ and body donation here.

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. Read more about funeral services in Ireland here .

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 here . 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. Read more about registering the birth of a stillborn child here.

Children

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 is 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 benefits and entitlements relating to death. The Revenue Commissioners have some useful information on taxation following bereavement.

If you are experiencing financial difficulties following a 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 happens 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.

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. To remove the deceased's name from the Register of Electors use Form RFA1, which is available from your local authority. It's also useful to get in touch with any social clubs and professional/trade organisations.

Page updated: 17 September 2010

Language

Gaeilge

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If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.