Death. What do you do?

My mother, now in the final stages of alzheimer's & being looked after by my sister, was recently taken into hospital with a temperature. Her health is deteriotating generally & she is bedridden. Although the care she is getting, both from my sister & visiting nurses at home & from the hospital, is of the highest quality I have to face the fact that her time with us is nearly over.

When the time comes I will have to put aside my grief & make the "arrangements" & apart from sorting the funeral I'm sure that there are plenty of other admin tasks which will need to be carried out & officials to be notified. I have no idea what to expect or where or who to start with.

Is there a place or organisation which can advise on these matters as I would rather be prepared than tackle problems as they arise! Perhaps someone has gone through this & has recovered enough to pass on some hard earned advice?

Thanks all.

Like Louise, we found that the 15 copies we received from the Mairie (covering the hospital where my mother died) were accepted by both french and UK financial institutions and UK solicitors. The only problem we encountered was with the Premium Bonds people but even then, they accepted the copy we sent them when I explained to them that this is how France deals with death certificates.

I found that the banks and institutions accepted the international death certificate and did not need a stamp from the solictors.

Certifecdocumentati!on can Bee done at the? embassy.It costs but they stamp to say they have certified the original. I know they do at the Australia n embassy so worth checking if the British embassy provides the same service ice and is accepted in the UK.

A difficult situation Mark, my sympathies. Try where there is a link to funerals and some helpful advice, wherever you are. Regards Janis

My heartfelt thank you to all you SFNers both for your sympathy & sound advice. I did google the subject originally but did not find much so I am extrenely grateful for all your advice. It is easier to deal with the admin if you know what to expect as I think when the time comes my thoughts will be elsewhere!

The report from the hospital is not too grim & it looks like she will be allowed home soon which will be less stressful for her.

I am sorry to hear this. My mother died in May and was living in Spain. My main advice would be to make sure that if she has a UK will that one of you is named executor and that she has not named a bank or solicitor as her executor as then there are a lot of problems and charges. I do not know if you need a French will as well, but in Spain she should have made a Spanish will too. Also, you will need not only a French death certificate but an international death certificate (they gave me this in Spain) which will be good for all British institutions that need to be informed of the death and request a copy of the certificate. Some are happy with photocopies but others want the original but will return it to you. Hope this is useful.

Hi Mark

Very sorry to hear about your situation. Here is a link to a post that another SFN er was kind enough to write

All the best C&J x

Sorry, I should have made it clear, she is here in France. My father also died here just after retiring but I was living in the UK at the time. My mother dealt with the formalities then.

If you email me I can send a pdf document which contains all you need to know if your Mum is to die in France.


I'm so sorry to hear about your situation. It's the toughest thing to watch your parent die especially when they have Alzheimers. The disease totally changes the personality and character of someone you love.

On a practical front (my mother died in France from cancer in 2010):

You need to inform the Maire of her commune. If your mother dies in hospital / nursing home then they will inform the Maire. It is best to check that they are aware of her death.

You will be given 15 copies of her death certificate by the Mairie of the town that she died in. KEEP these. To finish the succession (inheritance), you will need to send one to every company / bank that she owed or was due money from, including electricity, water etc. You can request more from the issuing Mairie.

Inform the Notaire who handled your mother's buy, will... etc. It is their job to manage the inheritance if your mother was a french resident. There was a recent european law change regarding inheritance - check that your mother didn't change her will.

Hope this helps a little.


hi - if it is in france - google 'death and dying in france' - a website by cancersupportfrance - they have a pdf version for download on help and support etc for people in your situation

if in uk - her solicitor should have a will which may say what they wanted done - if not main thing is to get death certificate and register it because funeral people will require this as well as banks /pension people etc

Mark - In France???? have a look at this ...

Hi, Mark,

Very sorry hear to hear about your Mum. Mine died here in the Dordogne in October 2009 after a long illness ( she had come out here with us in 2006).

I will make the a broad assumption that your mum is here in France for my info on what to do. As and when she passes away here.

We had notified the Pompiers as it was at home here in France. A Doctor was called by them to attend and pronounce life extinct. The next morning our Mayor was called by the Doctor and she was really brilliant and notified the local Funeral Parlor and did all the paperwork etc. even offering to help tidy things up. The Mayor also advised us to have quite a few copies of the Death Certificate to help in all the offical matters both here in France and back in the UK. The Mayor also attaches a Hospital like tag to the deceased with all the correct info written on it name etc. The Mayor also attend's the Funeral Parlor on the day of the Funeral and is the main ofical at the sealing of the coffin to ensure everything is correct. As Mum's wish was for a cremation this has to be arranged normally within 3 days but you can extend that period by making arrangements with the Funeral Parlor. She had also asked to be laid to rest with my Dad back in Suffolk.

After dealing with the will and all the details of her life and accounts etc back in the UK and closing her Post Office bank here in France arrangements were made to take her remains back to the UK for a service and laying to rest in Suffolk. Now here is probably where I did it all wrong some will say. But we simply took her ashes back to the uk by car and handed them to the Funeral Director who had made the arrangements for the service.

I hope in some small way this info maybe of help to you and your family.

hi Mark - If your mum is in France then this is what I had to do when my wife passed away last december

As soon as possible after the death you will need to provide documents for the hospital, they will specify which documents. Also, they will ask you for a set of clothes that you wish her to be dressed in for the funeral parlour - these clothes will be used after the embalming if you choose this. You will sign to basically 'release' the body from the hospital confines and this will allow the funeral director to pick up the body soon after. I know it's stating the obvious but as soon as possible after the death remove any personal effects ie rings etc. Don't expect the hospital staff to do it automatically.

You should then go to the funeral director (your choice) as quickly as possible and choose what options etc you require. Cremation or burial etc. The company will do the necessary regarding notification of the Mairie etc. They charge you for this, only a small amount but worth every centime in my opinion as it releases you to do more important things. As soon as you have done the formalities with the funeral company they will phone the crematorium or cemetary and give you a date for the cremation or burial. Be careful as it will usually be within a few days. I believe the law says that the body must be either cremated or buried within five working days. My wife passed away on the friday afternoon and the body was collected that afternoon and the cremation was the following wednesday.

You can, if you wish allow the body to be laid in a rest chapel or rest room to allow others to visit and pay their last respects etc. This si why the funeral company will insist on embalming.

You can also if you choose, have a church ceremony prior to the cremation or burial - the funeral company will arrange this (usually).

The ceremony itself ? well, at the cremation the time goes quickly as the crematorium is always busy and wanting keep to their schedules so they will do their best to get it over and done with asap ! Stand your ground and explain that you wish a hymn to be played or a speech to be made etc. The actual time spent inside the crematorium is about 20 max. Don't know about a burial i'm afraid.

The ashes are available to collect a couple of hours later. You are allowed by law to keep the ashes in your home for a maximum of one year tho' you will be asked to sign a document where you will be required to specify the destination of the ashes. It is now a criminal offence to keep possession of the ashes in France

The cost of the cremation from start to finish was about 2500€ if I recall tho' I can give you an exact cost if you wish. You will receive the documents when you pay the cremation or burial bill. You will be given a small folder with about ten copies of the death certificate signed and stamped by the Mairie. The hospital don't provide the death certificate, just a document to give to the funeral company (depends on the hospital) although sometimes the details are given by phone apparently.

Hope this helps - don't hesitate to pm me if you require any other info.


Sorry to hear of your family circumstances. But if you are prepared beforehand it will help rather than trying to sort things out when the worst happens.

If you look on "The Connection" web site (I just typed in "What to do when someone dies in France") there is all the information you need regarding the legal death certificate etc and arrangements for either burial or cremation in France or repatriation back to UK if that is what is preferred.

A good French friend of ours died due to cancer - we were surprised that the cremation took place within 3 days - apparently it must be done within a maximum of 6 days so that doesn`t leave a lot of time if family etc wish to travel to France.

I hope this helps.

Mark - sorry to hear and I cant offer any advice as my Mum and Dad both died in Australia but do offer my sympathy and best wishes - no matter how ready you think you are for it, its still a shock when it happens. All the best,


You don't say whether your mum is in France or the UK. If the UK then this Age Concern site should be helpful.

It's fairly straightforward in my experience but not an easy task. My sympathies to you.

Mark, are we talking France or UK? If it's France I can probably help as we went through this with my mother-in-law 18 months ago.

Mark, I know that you have to report a death to the Mairie within 24 hours.

I am sure that someone has covered this subject before and I thought it might have been on useful links, but it seems not.

There is a charity in the west of France that has produced a booklet in English on what to do in the event of a death and perhaps you can try and google it. I kniow that we downloaded it, but I would have to root through the office to find it.

It is a dificult time for everyone and I wish you well.