Death: Procedures to carry out

One of your loved ones has passed away. Who inherits? What is the ratio? How much does it cost? Your notary is here to help you and assist you with the inheritance transactions you need to carry out.

Death: What are the initial procedures to carry out ?

Death certificate

The death certificate must be obtained by the doctor. If the death took place in a medical or social institution, the establishment establishes the certificate, by the department’s doctor.

Declaration in a town hall

The death must be declared at the town hall within 24 hours, by any person who has the necessary documents (death certificate, family record book, identity card, passport, birth certificate…).

Death record

The registrar draws out the death record. Hosting the body before the funeral. While waiting for the burial or the cremation, the place where the body rests needs to be chosen (funeral home, home, social or medico-social establishment).

Which funeral method to choose? Burial or cremation?

If the deceased has left indications on how his/her funeral should be organized, his wishes must be respected. Otherwise, it is up to relatives to choose. The funeral must take place within 6 days of death (Sundays and public holidays not included). If the death took place abroad, the period is 6 days from the arrival of the body in France.


The deceased may be buried in the cemetery of his/her commune of residence, or commune where the death occurred, or in the cemetery where his/her family had acquired a burial plot. If the person wanted to be buried in another municipality, the mayor's approval must be obtained.


The choice of crematorium is free. The ashes are either kept in a cinerary urn or dispersed in a space specially made for a cemetery or a cinerary site or scattered in the middle of nature (except on public roads). In the case of the latter, a declaration to the town hall, of the place of birth of the deceased is required.

Financing the funeral

Funeral expenses are borne by the estate. This means that they are taken from the estate's assets if there is enough. The person taking charge of the funeral may, upon presentation of the funeral invoice, obtain the debit from the bank account of the deceased, which is to say, the required amount for the payment of funeral expenses, with a limit of 5,000 euros. Beyond this amount, a notary needs to get involved.

Relatives must also make sure with the documents of the deceased, whether the latter had a funeral insurance. If this is the case, one must immediately contact the insurer. The contract can guarantee the payment of a lump sum, to the designated beneficiaries, or include in excess to the organization of the funeral.

Which people and institutions need to be notified?

The family must be responsible for informing third parties of the death (mainly the employer, pension funds, social organizations, bank(s), service providers and the tax center), by sending them a copy of the death certificate.

In addition, the notary must be contacted quickly, in order to open the inheritance file. Indeed, the law imposes a time limit on the heirs, for the filing of the succession declaration and the payment of an inheritance tax. The period is six months, if the death took place in France metropolis, twelve months in other cases. In the event of a delay, an interest of 0.40% per month is due. In practice, this six-month period corresponds to the average period for settling a succession, from the opening of the succession file by the notary and if the file does not present any issue. The notary must therefore be contacted quickly, in order to favor a settlement, as soon as possible.

Frequently asked questions