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Who is responsible for informing family of death?

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I am wondering if anyone knows who is responsible for informing family when there has been a death. Does anyone know?

My brother died at home 3 years ago and I only found out a few months ago. I had tried to contact him during that time to no avail. I even searched the death register at one point but could not see his name, so was assured he was still alive. I assumed he had gone off somewhere without telling me as his life could be somewhat chaotic at times. 

It has been a massive shock and made grieving difficult. There would have been a council cremation with no family there. The police attended but could not explain why we weren’t informed. I have been in contact with the Coroner’s office for 5 months now trying to get more information without success so far.

Does anyone know if the responsibility to inform family rests with the police or Coroners please?

Thanks.
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  • bobster2
    bobster2 Posts: 589 Forumite
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    edited 27 August 2022 at 7:27AM
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    I'm not sure there's an actual obligation on anyone to find and notify family members at the time a death occurs. There isn't necessarily an easy way for the Police or Coroner to know that someone has siblings - unless this information is obvious from personal possessions.
  • Flugelhorn
    Flugelhorn Posts: 5,908 Forumite
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    the police / coroner's officer / council bereavement dept  will have looked through paperwork / spoken to anyone around (neighbours / passersby / in fact anyone there / names in address books) to find a relative / person to deal with it all because they would prefer someone else to deal with it.
    But if the deceased  has not left anything / nothing can be found then they are not able to spend ages hunting for someone - for example, they won't employ an agency to find someone 
    Most times someone knows something - I have been to a few where you might think there was no-one but then "oh there was a niece in the north east and the lady down the road knows where she is" etc etc 
  • SevenOfNine
    SevenOfNine Posts: 2,364 Forumite
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    edited 27 August 2022 at 8:17AM
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    When my elderly aunt died, a neighbour realised she hadn't seen her for a day or two (lived in flats) called Police who found her dead. Neighbour told them she had a sister (my mum) & supplied her name, address & phone number.

    Police did a brief search of Aunt's flat & found a name & phone number of some friend or other & rang to tell her instead. We found that out weeks later, & she said she'd explained to Police that she knew nothing at all of Aunt's family, & didn't even know her very well. It seems Police couldn't care less & considered 'job done'.

    My equally elderly mum found out about her sister's death some 24 hours later, when the neighbour rang to offer condolences, instead having to tell her that her sister was dead. Both were horrified!

    It may well have been like that, the Police didn't bother even when handed NoK details, I had to try to find out where Aunt's body was myself, coroner was very kind & it's not their job, they have the body but Police have access to the personal things & accomodation.

    Is it possible he didn't have your details easily found? Or anyone (neighbour/friend) who could have directed them to you? Not all Police are as stupid or as lazy as the ones who were handed my mum's details on a plate.
    Seen it all, done it all, can't remember most of it.
  • Flugelhorn
    Flugelhorn Posts: 5,908 Forumite
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    Is it possible he didn't have your details easily found? Or anyone (neighbour/friend) who could have directed them to you? Not all Police are as stupid or as lazy as the ones who were handed my mum's details on a plate.
    certainly the occasions I have been involved (in verifying death) the police have been concerned to try to find the right person and I think they would have used the details they were given in those sort of circumstances, easier than deciphering address books - TBH I think it is women who keep address books more than men, I was grateful for my mother's as helped to find who various people were (like the gardeners who kept on coming to the garden even though they weren't being paid)
  • jewelly
    jewelly Posts: 513 Forumite
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    Thanks everyone for your responses. I do tend to think the police probably didn’t make much effort in this. They spoke to his ex-partner who lived hundreds of miles away. If asked, I am sure she would have told them about me (if asked) and given my christian name. My details would have been in his phone contacts, so not that difficult to find.
    I guess I will just have to get over it. Thanks again.
  • Flugelhorn
    Flugelhorn Posts: 5,908 Forumite
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    so difficult @jewelly I suspect in that case they thought they had done enough by contacting the ex-partner, probably assumed they would contact you., awful to find out so late particularly as you had been doing some hunting for him.

    Just thinking this thing about phone contacts, old fashioned address books are there and easily accessible by anyone (if they can work out who is who from it ) but suspect most people have some sort of password / unlocking on their phone so maybe tricky to get the details, not sure what the answer is 
  • bobster2
    bobster2 Posts: 589 Forumite
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    Its another of those areas where people think there is responsibility when there is none.

    No one has a legal duty to tell anyone about a death other than notifying the registrar and there is a list of people that can do that.

    There is other legislation for the medical profession for when to refer to the coroner 
    Also people tend to think there is some sort of definitive register/list of family members which of course is not the case. It can take a lot of detective work for genealogists to put together family trees.
  • Mrs_Z
    Mrs_Z Posts: 1,111 Forumite
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    First of all, I'm sorry for your loss.  Did your brother's ex-partner not have your number?
    I'm in a similar situation but in reverse.  My friend passed away few months ago and her only living relative is her sister in Canada.  They were estranged and all the while my friend was ill with terminal diagnosis, she did not want the sister to know.  According to her, they had not spoken for 10 years. When my friend passed away, I wanted to let the sister know but the only phone number appeared to be an old landline (not working) and we could not find the sister on the social media.  I also asked if the Embassy would offer a tracing service but they do not.  In the end I found someone else in the phonebook who knew the sister but did not have her contact number but knew of someone else who might have them - so I left the message with this person to pass to that person.  To date I have not heard anything back so I don't know if the message ever reached her sister. I don't know why they fell out in the first place but regardless, I think the sister had a right to know of her sibling passing but it's not always so straight forward with families.
  • Silvertabby
    Silvertabby Posts: 9,198 Forumite
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    edited 27 August 2022 at 7:48PM
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    Sorry for your loss.  Even though you hadn't seen him for some time, he was still your brother, so you need to be kind to yourself and give yourself time to grieve.

    As has already been said, there's no standard procedure for notifying nok, simply because those dealing with the death don't always find a list of people to contact 'in the event', and public funds don't run to employing a tracing service.


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