When someone dies
Death is an extremely difficult time in life when 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, there are
some immediate things that you must do following a death and some state and
voluntary services to support you.
Whether a death 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 that provide bereavement counselling services to anyone who has been recently bereaved. You may find these counselling services useful during this difficult time. The Irish Hospice Foundation have suggestions about how to support family members through grief and remember people we have lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Funerals during COVID-19
If someone close to you has just died, or you know someone who has recently been bereaved, you may have concerns about planning the funeral during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read our document on funerals to get more information on planning a funeral during the pandemic.
Close family members can still attend funeral services, burials and cremations provided the social distancing rules are respected. This applies to all funerals, including those of people who have died of COVID-19. There should not be more than 10 people in a church or at the graveside. Fewer people may be able to attend in small closed spaces and local churches may have other restrictions.
You can read more about death and bereavement during COVID-19.
Immediately following the death
It is necessary to make sure that everyone who dies 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 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 Death Notification Form stating the cause of death to the local Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths.
The requirement to attend a civil registration service to register a death has been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find out how to register a death in Ireland during the COVID-19 pandemic on gov.ie.
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, they must inform
who will decide if a post-mortem is
necessary. If after the post-mortem a cause of death cannot be established, an
may be held.
If you are the parents of a stillborn child, you can read more in our document, Registering the birth of a stillborn child.
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, TUSLA - the Child and Family Agency 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. Many banks have arrangements in place to help pay for funeral
expenses from the deceased person’s account (you should contact the bank
directly to find out more). Otherwise, 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 be eligible for an Exceptional Needs Payment to help you with the cost of a funeral if your income is low. 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. Our document, What happens the deceased person's estate explains issues such as access to money, the family home and legal right 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. Our document on dealing with the deceased's estate explains all about how to take out probate, duties of executors and dealing with debt.
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 or mortgage is held to notify them of the death. If the deceased lived in rented accommodation, the landlord or 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 or 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 the NDLS and if they were getting 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. You can also get in touch with any social clubs and professional or trade organisations.