Single Female 620X415

When someone dies in Scotland, a medical certificate of death (Form 11) is issued either by the hospital in which they died, or by a GP if the person died at home. If the person has died in unusual or unexplained circumstances, the death may be investigated by the Procurator Fiscal and medical certificate may not be issued until after the investigation.

Registering the death

Once the medical certificate of death has been issued, the death must be registered with the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages within eight days of the date of death. To do this, you should make an appointment with the Registrar’s Office either for the district in which the death took place or, if the person had lived elsewhere in Scotland, the district of the deceased person’s home address. If the death occurred in Scotland, the death must be registered here, even if the person normally lived outside of Scotland.

The death can be registered by the spouse, a relative, someone present at the death or the executor. If there are no such persons, or none of them live in Scotland, we may be able to arrange registration of the death for you. When you go to the Registrar’s Office to register the death, you should take with you:

  • The Medical certificate of death (Form 11) issued by the hospital or doctor
  • The deceased person’s birth and marriage or civil partnership certificates and NHS medical card, if available.
  • Details of any public pensions or benefits which the deceased person was receiving
  • Details of the deceased person’s full name, occupation, postal address and his or her date and country of birth, as well as information regarding their parents (full names and occupations).

The Registrar will register the death and will provide you with one abbreviated copy of the death certificate and you can obtain a full extract of the death certificate for a small fee.

Planning the funeral

The funeral is normally arranged by the deceased person’s executor, or their next of kin if there is no executor, and they should start planning the funeral as soon as possible. If the death has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal, the funeral may not be able to take place until after an investigation has taken place.

Before making funeral arrangements, you should check if the deceased persons left any funeral instructions or made any arrangements. If there is a will, you should check the will for any funeral instructions. You should also check whether the person had a pre-paid funeral plan or a funeral bond, in which case you should contact the plan or bond provider who will give you details of the funeral arrangements the deceased has already made.

If the deceased has not made any funeral arrangements, it is very common to contact a funeral director who can assist you with the funeral arrangements. They can help you make arrangements such as – the time and place of the funeral, who should attend, a funeral notice in the paper, flowers and the funeral tea.

Finding the will and dealing with the estate

You should ascertain if the deceased person left a will. To do this you can check amongst the deceased’s papers for any information regarding a will or you could contact their solicitor if you know who that is. If you think they left a will, but can’t find it, you could make an announcement in the local paper or solicitors’ journal for anyone holding the will to contact you.

If there is a will, the executor named in the will is the person responsible for administering the estate and you should contact them as soon as you find their details. Click for more information regarding the process of administering an estate where there is a will

If there is no will, you will have to ascertain who is entitled to inherit the estate, which will be the deceased’s spouse or civil partner, children or nearest relative in terms of succession law. The person (or one ore more of the persons) entitled to inherit the estates will then apply to the Sheriff Court to be appointed as executor dative of the estate. Click for more information regarding the process of administering an estate where there is no will

We understand that the process of dealing with someone’s estate after they die is a difficult and emotional one, particularly in the first few days after the death, when many of these things have to be done. Our experienced executry solicitors can assist you with the process in an understanding, professional manner.

Valuing an estate

Valuing an estate is the process of contacting all institutions and companies in which the deceased held assets in order to ascertain the value of what he or she owned (or owed) at their death, in order that these funds can be collected, or debts paid. This is often a long and complex process as it is dependent on third parties (banks, building societies, credit card companies etc.) with whom the deceased dealt providing information to the executor.

Our executry solicitors can assist you with as much of the process as you like. In some cases, it may also be appropriate for one of our solicitors to act as a professional executor and we are happy to do so.

Lindsay Maclean
Partner, Head of Personal Law
Get in touch with me when you need reliable legal advice on any aspect of Wills & Estate planning, including powers of attorney, will writing, financial planning and executries.
Edinburgh: 0131 208 2260
Glasgow: 0141 628 0656
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