The Death of a Loved One – Take it One Step at a Time

The death of a loved one is an emotionally draining experience, even if there were no legal admin involved in the aftermath. Unfortunately, as with the passing itself, this is a heavy cross to bear.

The following is not designed as an exhaustive manual, but a simple guide to help you take this difficult period one step at a time:

1. Medical Certificate

The first thing needed after somebody passes is a medical certificate. This details the cause of death, and is usually given to you by a member of staff if they passed in a hospital. If the person died at home, it may be necessary to phone their GP.

2. Register the Death

This should be done within 5 days of the death, unless there is an inquest. You can find your nearest register office here, and it’s a good idea to ask the registrar office for multiple copies of the death certificate. Having multiple copies can help you deal with institutions such as banks, who often won’t accept a photocopy of the certificate. It is free to register the death, but certificates are £11 per copy.

The death is usually registered by a relative, but it can also be: Someone who witnessed the death, an administrator from the hospital where they died or the person in charge of arranging the funeral.

3. The Will and the Funeral

As many people’s funeral wishes are contained within their will. It is vital to try and find this document before arranging the funeral plans. Banks will often release funds for a funeral without the Will being found upon being presented with a birth certificate.

In the UK, funerals cost on average £4800 and usually happen before probate is granted. The usual ways to pay for a funeral are: insurance, funds of the deceased person or payment from elsewhere such as the Funeral Payment Scheme.

4. Notify Organisations

There are many organisations that need to be informed and thankfully the Government’s Tell Us Once Service allows you to inform organisations such as the Passport Office, HMRC and the DVLA at the same time.

Other organisations that may need informing of the person’s passing are:

  • Employer

  • Banks

  • General Practitioner

  • Social services or carers

  • Building societies

  • Dentist

  • Premium Bonds Providers

  • Pension Provider

  • Optician

  • Magazine subscriptions

  • Mortgage provider, landlord, housing association or council housing office

  • Gas and electricity provider

  • Insurance providers

  • Water provider

  • TV and internet provider

  • Store card providers

Informing as many organisations as possible is very important as it minimises the risk of incurring late payment fees.

5. Apply for Probate

Once the value of the estate has been finalised and the assets and debts have been fully understood, then the executors of the Will must apply for probate.

This is done through the government, and upon receiving a Grant of Probate, you will receive a document that allows you access to the person’s assets and funds to distribute to the beneficiaries. Probate costs on average £1400 in the UK.

As I said, this list is not exhaustive, and everyone will have their own unique affairs to be resolved after they have passed. However, this guide will ensure that you have covered the main bases and hopefully make dealing with the death of a loved one a little less overwhelming.