5 Steps on What to Do When a Loved One Passes Away

When a loved one passes away the last thing that will be on your mind is the prospect of having to deal with their financial affairs as well as the daunting task of having to ensure that their personal affairs are also dealt with swiftly.

At Probaters, we appreciate that you will be grieving and may not know where to start in an unfamiliar situation such as the death of a relative or a friend. We have put a step-by-step guide to help assist you at this difficult time.

Step 1 – Depending on the circumstances surrounding the individual’s death you may need to contact some of the following:

  • Family doctor – natural cause of death, for example, a terminal illness. The doctor may issue a medical certificate, which will enable you to register the death at a local registry office.
  • Call 111 – unexpected death (Paramedics will advise if the police need to be notified, should a full investigation be required). A Post mortem or an inquest may need to be carried out and, if so, a coroner will be notified (a doctor or lawyer who is responsible for investigating the cause of death).
  • Hospital – If someone dies in a hospital then they will usually issue a medical certificate and formal notice. The body will be kept in the hospital mortuary until a chapel of rest has been arranged or the body is taken home. You will be supported throughout this process by the hospital.
  • Abroad – if someone dies abroad, follow the local regulations and ensure that the British Consul is informed as they will issue a death certificate which will enable a record to be kept in the UK.
  • Funeral director – As soon as you feel ready to make funeral arrangements.
  • Local registry office – this needs to be done within five days of death. You can locate your nearest registry office by carrying out a search on the government website.

Step 2 – What information do I need for registering a death?

When registering a death at your local registry office it is important that you take along the death certificate that was issued by the family doctor or relevant provider as this will show the cause of death. If you have access to the following documents and information then ensure you take them along as well:

  • Birth certificate
  • NHS medical card or number
  • Marriage certificate
  • Driving license
  • Proof of their address

You will also be required to provide information on the persons full name, their date and place of birth, the date and place of death, their usual address, their most recent occupation, whether or not they were receiving any benefits such as a state pension as well as any information on their spouse or civil partner.

Step 3 – What happens after a death has been registered?

Following your appointment at the local registry office you will be provided with the following documents:

  • Green Form – a certificate for burial or cremation
  • Form BD8 – A certificate of registration of death. This needs to be completed and returned in the pre-paid envelope that will be provided if the person was receiving benefits or a state pension. If you are using the Government website and Tell Us Once service, then this won’t be necessary.
  • You will also receive leaflets which will provide information on bereavement benefits.
  • A death certificate – a fee will apply. Additional certificates can also be requested for a small fee provided they are applied for promptly, these will be needed for the will and claims to pensions, savings. As most banks or life insurance companies won’t accept photocopies, it is particularly important to ensure you have an original document.

Step 4 – Who do I need to inform about the death?

As mentioned in our previous post, it is important that relevant government organisations such as the DWP are informed to ensure that any outstanding claims on the estate are resolved prior to the estate being distributed amongst those who stand to inherit it.

In addition, the following organisations will also be required to be informed to ensure any benefits, services and documents are cancelled:

  • The Tax office.
  • HMRC for tax purposes.
  • DVLA to cancel driver licence.
  • Local services for council tax, library cards, electoral services or a blue badge.
  • UK Passport agency.
  • Pension scheme provider
  • Bank/Building society
  • Insurance companies
  • Mortgage provider
  • Utility companies
  • GP, dentist, optician and any relevant healthcare providers
  • Charities, magazine subscriptions the deceased person had direct debits for
  • Social services
  • Employer

As mentioned earlier, most local authorities should provide the online Tell Us Once service. However, if they don’t then you will have to make sure that all of these organisations are contacted.

Step 5 – Will and Executors

Remember when dealing with the Will that first one you come across may not be the latest version as the deceased may have made additional amendments in the event of gifts being left to individuals who have already passed away. In the event of no Will being present, it is important that the next of kin seek legal advice as this will provide protection in the event of a Will existing and will ensure that any rules governing the distribution of assets and estates are adhered to. Having followed the steps outlined above, you should have a good understanding of the individual’s assets and any liabilities that may exist.

In the event of Probate being required then there are things to consider:

  • What is the deadline for any inheritance tax that may need to be paid?
  • Identify items that have been left in the Will to specific individuals and ensure they are kept secure
  • Ensure the estate is secure, consider changing locks and notify any other relevant parties
  • Contact our friendly team on 01273 789510 for a comprehensive service that will take out the stress of addressing any issues surrounding probate.
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