When a loved one dies, it can be an extremely emotional time and you will need some time to process what has happened. When you are feeling ready, there are some practical things that you will need to do.
Below are some of the steps you will need to carry out.
Who can/should carry out these steps?
It is important to know that there are only a few people who are allowed to carry out the below steps after a loved one has died. If you are a family member or friend, it does not automatically mean that you are entitled to begin organising the deceased’s affairs. The people who are allowed to, are either the executors or the administrators. If you are not listed as an executor or administrator in the Will, then it is important to refer to those people if there is anything
Registering the death
You will need to register the death within 5 days (or 8 days if you’re in Scotland). To do this, you will need a certificate either from a GP or a hospital doctor. If the death was reported to the coroner, you will need permission from the coroner to register the death.
Organising the funeral
You will need to contact a funeral director to begin organising the funeral. You can find a funeral director that is a member of the:
National Association of Funeral Directors (https://nafd.org.uk/funeral-advice/find-a-member/ )
The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors (SAIF) (http://saif.org.uk/members-search/)
Any funeral directors registered with these two organisations will have codes of practice and have to provide you with a price list if you ask for one.
You should also check if your loved one has a prepaid funeral plan and also if they have stated whether they wish to be buried or cremated.
You will need to check that your loved one’s house has the appropriate buildings and contents insurance as there is a greater risk of burglary once the property is unoccupied.
You should also carry out regular checks on the property to ensure that it is secure and that there have been no break-ins or other damage. Regular checks are particularly important in the winter months when bad weather can cause damage to pipework.
As well as ensuring the house is adequately insured, you will also need to consider any valuables left in the home, as it is likely that these will no longer be insured if there is nobody living at the property. You should remove any valuables and check that they will be covered under your own contents insurance.
You will need to inform the motor insurers of the death so that they are able to update their records. You will then either need to transfer the car into a different name (if you are entitled to do so) or arrange for it to be stored somewhere under SORN.
Their Will, probate and inheritance
If you have been appointed as Executor in your loved one’s Will you will be responsible for dealing with their estate in accordance with the Will.
If the person has not left a Will then the rules of intestacy will apply. These rules determine who is entitled to deal with the estate (often called an Administrator). The rules also set out who is entitled to receive the estate in cases where a person dies without leaving a Will.
If there is a Will, the Executor will apply for a Grant of Probate. If there is no Will, the entitled person applies for a Grant of Letters of Administration. In each case, the application is made to the Probate Registry and, once you receive it, the Grant proves that you are officially authorised to deal with the estate.
Sometimes there is only one Executor or Administrator, but, depending on the circumstances, it may be possible for up to four people to make a joint application.
Inform people of their death
There will be certain people and organisations that you will need to inform of the death, for example:
- banks and building societies
- pension scheme provider
- insurance company
- the tax office
- employer (if they were still working)
- mortgage provider, housing association or council housing office
- utility companies
- local services such as libraries, electoral services and council tax services
- GP, dentist, optician and anyone else providing medical care
- any charities, organisations or magazine subscriptions the deceased person made regular payments to
- the Bereavement Register – this removes a person’s details from mailing lists and stops most advertising mail
If the person held a driver’s licence or passport, you will need to return the driver’s licence to the DVLA and the passport to HM Passport Office.
If the person had made a power of attorney and you were their attorney, you should return the power of attorney document to the Office of the Public Guardian along with a copy of the death certificate.
It is also important to stop or redirect the person’s mail. This is important, as a build-up of unopened parcels and post can signal that a house is empty, which can increase the risk of burglary.
If you are finding it difficult to come to terms with what has happened, there are services that offer support. The following are just some of the services available to you.
The NHS offers some information on its website here: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/coping-with-bereavement/
Marie Curie offers bereavement counselling: https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/help/support/bereaved-family-friends/dealing-grief/bereavement-or-grief-counselling
- Cruse Bereavement Care (0808 808 1677)
- Cruse Bereavement Care Scotland (0845 600 2227*)
- Lifeline (Northern Ireland) (0808 808 8000)
- London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard (0300 330 0630)
- Samaritans (116 123)
- Supportline (01708 765 200)
For more information on our Wills, Probate and Lasting Power of Attorney services, please visit our pages here.
Or to make a 20-minute free initial consultation, call and speak to one of our specialist law team who will be happy to assist you further on 0800 614 722.