A. Bereavement Grants
How do I claim a Bereavement Grant?
You can get the application forms by phoning LoCall 1890 20 23 25 or LoCall 1890 500 000 or you can get one at your Social Welfare Local Office, local Post Office or Citizens Information Centre. The forms can also be downloaded from the internet at www.welfare.ie
What if I don’t qualify for a Bereavement Grant?
If you do not qualify for a Bereavement Grant you may get assistance towards the funeral expenses under the Supplementary Welfare Allowance (SWA) scheme, which is operated by the Health Boards. No social insurance contributions are required as payment is based on the means of the person responsible for paying the funeral bill. You should apply to your local Community Welfare Officer at your local Health Centre before you pay the funeral bill, as the cheque will be issued to the undertaker/funeral director. The SWA scheme also provides for Exceptional Needs Payments in particular situations
B. Other Useful information
In this section looks in more detail at the issues dealt with in the Frequently Asked Questions, as well as some other topics which may arise in the months following a bereavement
Where The Death Took Place:
The majority of deaths occur in hospital and the hospital staff arranges for the laying out of the body, provide a medical certificate of the cause of death and register the death. Most hospitals have mortuaries where the body of the deceased is held until the funeral arrangements are made. You can decide to take the body home or have the remains brought to a funeral home.
Another decision is whether or not to have the body embalmed if, for example, there is a delay in organising the funeral. These are personal decisions for you and your family.
If a death occurs at home, you need to contact the doctor (GP) who attended to the deceased during their final illness. Contact your local Funeral Director who will deal with all the necessary arrangements.
Every country has its own rules about the formalities to be followed when a person dies. An undertaker here in Ireland should be able to help you deal with these formalities and arrange for the remains to be brought home if you wish.
Registering The Death:
All deaths must be registered with the Registrar of Deaths in the area where the death occurred (not necessarily where the deceased used to live). There are Registrars of Deaths in every county. The person responsible for registering the death is the nearest relative present at the death. If you are registering the death you must get a medical certificate showing the cause of death and this must be signed by a doctor who has treated the deceased in the 28 days before the death (or by the Coroner if applicable). In the case of a Coroner’s post mortem, the Coroner will register the death.
If you are the parent of a stillborn child, there is no legal obligation on you to register the death. However, you may do so within forty-two days of the birth. The doctor who attended the birth or examined the child must provide, free of charge, a signed medical certificate which states the weight and gestational age of the child. You can then register the birth with the local Registrar of Births. If you do not do so, the hospital registers the birth at the end of the forty-two day period, and within 4 months of the birth. Stillborn children born before 1st January 1995 may have their births registered by a parent at any time. Evidence of the birth will be needed, for example, a statement from the hospital or the attending doctor. You, the parent(s) must personally attend the Registrar’s Office.
Checklist of Details Required When Registering a Death:
- Full name and surname of deceased
- The deceased’s PPS Number
- Sex, marital status, occupation and date of birth or age of deceased
- Date and place of death
- If the deceased was married the occupation of their spouse, or deceased spouse if widowed
- Medical Certificate of the cause of death
A post mortem (sometimes called an autopsy) is an examination carried out by a pathologist after the death to try to establish the medical cause of death. The majority of deaths do not require any post mortem because the medical cause of death can be certified by a doctor – a GP or hospital doctor – who has been treating the deceased in the month prior to the death. A medical certificate of cause of death is required in order to register a death. Sometimes the doctor may not be able to give such a certificate without conducting a post mortem, even if he/she has been treating the deceased. If you are the next of kin, it is usual to ask for your permission before conducting a post mortem. However, it is not clear that such permission is necessary. In certain circumstances, a Coroner may have to be informed of the death and he/she may require a post mortem to be held. The permission of the next of kin is not required in these cases.
The Role Of The Coroner:
A Coroner is involved in all cases of sudden and unexpected death. Certain deaths must be reported to the Coroner. All doctors, registrars of death, funeral undertakers as well as people in charge of the premises in which a person died are obliged to inform the coroner (or a Garda Sergeant) if they suspect that the person died, either directly or indirectly;
- As a result of violence or misadventure
- By unfair means
- As a result of negligence or misconduct or malpractice on the part of others
- From any cause other than natural illness or disease for which the deceased had been seen and treated by a doctor within a month before the death
- In such circumstances as may require investigation
It is an offence for any person not to carry out this duty. The Coroner may establish that the death was due to natural causes and, if so, he/she issues a medical certificate of the cause of death (which can then be used to register the death).If you are the next of kin, you must apply to the Coroner’s Court for this certificate and the Coroner’s report. A fee of €5.90 is payable for the report. The report will not be sent automatically
If, after a post mortem, the Coroner is still unable to establish the medical cause of death, an inquest may be held. An inquest is an enquiry into the cause of death, i.e. when, where, how and why did the death occur. In general, an inquest must be held if the Coroner considers that the death was violent or unnatural or happened suddenly or from unknown causes. A post mortem and inquest is always required in cases of suicide. An inquest does not involve any assessment of criminal liability. In some cases, a jury must be present at an inquest but the jury has a fairly limited role. If there are criminal proceedings involved, the inquest must be adjourned until those proceedings have been completed. After the inquest, the Coroner issues a medical certificate of the cause of death. The Coroner will register the death in these cases. The Death Certificate will then be available from the District Registrar’s office.
If the bereaved include orphans under the age of 18, immediate arrangements have to be made for them. In most cases, family members care for orphans until long-term arrangements are made. If there are no family members to do this, the Health Board should be informed and they will make arrangements for the care of the children.
If the parent(s) have appointed guardians in a will, then the guardians are responsible for making decisions about the children. Appointed guardians do not have to accept this responsibility. If they do accept the responsibility, they do not necessarily take custody of the children, i.e. have day-to day care. Any dispute about who should be guardians and who should have custody has to be decided by the Courts. That decision is based on the best interests of the child.
If you are the next of kin, it is important to act quickly if it is the deceased’s wish to donate organs. If they were carrying an organ donor card and died in hospital, the hospital will contact the person named as next of kin before arranging the removal of organs for transplantation. It is usual to get your family’s consent for this. If the deceased was not carrying an organ donor card or was too young to have such, the family may be asked to agree to organ donation. You can get further information from the Irish Kidney Association, see Useful Addresses section. Organs for transplantation are only removed from people who die in hospital and the permission of the next of kin is requested.
Funeral Arrangements – Burial or Cremation:
The deceased may have left specific instructions about where to be buried or to be cremated and what form the religious or other service should take. Most people respect the deceased’s wishes where possible. Usually, the undertaker makes the arrangements for providing a coffin, getting a grave, putting death notices in the papers or sending them to local radio stations. You may make the religious service arrangements directly with the church or the undertaker may do that for you.
All burials must be registered with the local authority and the location of the grave noted – this is done by the people who manage the graveyard.
Cremation facilities are available in Dublin but not yet in other parts of the Country. The Dublin facilities are not restricted to Dublin people. Before cremation, forms must be signed by a medical referee who must be satisfied that the attending doctor viewed the body before and after death, completed the medical certificate and the necessary form stating that there is no reason why the body should not be cremated. The attending doctor is required to examine whether or not the death should be notified to the Coroner. There may be difficulties arranging an immediate cremation if the cause of death is not clear. A Coroner may in this case complete a Coroner’s Cremation Certificate. In some cases, a Garda Superintendent has the power to stop a cremation.
All Information on this page is courtesy of Comairle and may be subject to change. For the latest informaton, plese visit their website www.comhairle.ie