What to do when a loved one dies

The loss of a loved one, whether it be a friend or a family member, can be an overwhelming time for many reasons. Not only do you have to learn to find ways to deal with your grief, but there are many practical matters that need to be dealt with and it can be hard to know where to start.

Registering the death

The first thing you will need to do is register your loved one’s death and you should try do so within 5 days, unless the death has been referred to the Coroner who will issue an Interim Death Certificate if an inquest is to take place. Previously it has been necessary to visit the Registrar’s office to register a death, however, during the Covid-19 pandemic this process has been updated and it is now possible to register a death by telephone. A death is usually registered by a family member however, if this is not possible, there are other people who can register the death such as the person arranging the funeral or someone who was present at the death.

Tell us once

Once you have registered the death, the registrar will give you a unique reference so that you can access the Tell Us Once Service. The service is designed to report the death to any relevant government services such as HM Revenue & Customs, the Department for Work & Pensions and the local council. The Tell Us Once Service will not notify banks or building societies and so you may wish to contact any banks or building societies where your loved one had an account so that the accounts can be frozen.

Arrange the funeral

You will be able to start making funeral arrangements once the death has been registered. You may already have spoken to your loved one about their funeral wishes and whether they wished to be buried or cremated. If not, if your loved one has prepared a Will, you may find that they have included a clause within it setting out their funeral wishes, or that they have stored documents relating to a prepaid funeral plan with their Will. If your loved one has sufficient funds in their bank account, you can ask their bank to settle the funeral invoice using those funds.

Establish whether there is a Will

You will need to establish whether your loved one made a Will. Sometimes this is straightforward, and they will have already discussed their Will with you and told you where to find it. If you are not sure whether your loved one made a Will, you should start by checking through their paperwork. You should also contact any local solicitors or solicitors you know your loved one has used previously for other matters, such as conveyancing. You can also check the National Will Register, although it is not compulsory in the UK for a Will to be registered. If there is a Will, you will need to check who your loved one has appointed as their Personal Representatives (Executors), as they will be responsible for administering the estate. If there is no Will, the Personal Representatives (Administrators) will be determined by the Intestacy Rules.

Once you have established who the Personal Representatives are, they will be able to start the estate administration. At Moore Barlow, our Private Wealth team can help you through the process from start to finish and we will do everything we can to make what can be a difficult and overwhelming time as simple and easy as possible.