What to do when a loved one dies

It is a horrible time when somebody close to you dies and the last thing most people want to be thinking about is paperwork.

There are however a number of things to sort out right away that often fall to friends or relatives.

Here are some prompts to help you get through the first couple of weeks.

Organ donation

If your loved one wished to be an organ donor it is important to inform the doctor involved urgently and have the donor card or consent form to hand.

Registering the death

The attending doctor will issue a Medical Cause of Death certificate, but you will need to formally register the death and obtain a Death Certificate at the local registry office within five days.

www.gov.uk/register-a-death explains how to do this and takes you through a simple questionnaire that guides you to the right advice.

The following documents will be useful to take to the appointment:-

  •  The person’s birth certificate
  •  Any marriage or civil partnership certificate
  •  The death certificate of their former spouse or civil partner
  •  State pension details (NI number)
  •  Their passport.

If you are unable to find all of these documents, do not worry. The Registrar should be sympathetic and you should attend anyway.

The registration process takes about half an hour and you will also be given a certificate authorising burial or cremation to pass on to the funeral directors.

It is a good idea to ask for maybe half a dozen certified copies of the Death Certificate. Organisations such as Government agencies, banks and investment companies may ask to see the certificate.

If the death has been reported to the coroner the death cannot be registered until they give permission, but they can issue an interim death certificate.

Informing other agencies

www.gov.uk/tell-us-once is run by the Government and lets you tell various agencies about a death at once.

These agencies include Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, local authorities and the Department of Work & Pensions.

Arranging the funeral

Your loved one’s Will may explain the kind of funeral they would like and details such as whether they would like to be buried or cremated.

Most people use a Funeral Director, as they can coordinate things such as flowers and liaise with the crematorium or church. It is a good idea to appoint one local to where the funeral will be held.

You will need to pay for the funeral. Banks will often pay the Funeral Director from the person’s account without the need for probate. They may also have had a funeral savings plan.

If you have difficulty paying you can apply for a funeral payment from the Government at www.gov.uk/funeral-payments.

Securing your loved one’s home

If your loved one was living at home, make sure the property is secure. Speak to the executors if you think it would be best to remove certain valuable items to a place of safety, but do not remove anything without their permission.

You should also contact your loved one’s home insurance company to explain what has happened and confirm that cover will stay in place following their death.

Dealing with the person’s estate

This can be left until after the funeral and you feel more up to the task. Many people appoint a Solicitor to manage things, as there can be a lot to do and some complicated paperwork.


  • Will drafting
  • Review of existing Wills
  • Advice re provision for children, second families, spouses and civil partners, unmarried partners and other family members
  • Advice re charitable gifts
  • Advice re foreign and business assets
  • Advice re Will trusts
  • Codicils
  • Inheritance Tax advice


  • Advice re Trust creation and ongoing management
  • Preparation of trust deeds and other trust documentation
  • Declarations of Trust
  • Termination of trusts

Probate and Administration of Estates

  • Advice re the terms of the Will or intestacy rules where there is no Will
  • Obtaining values for the various assets and liabilities in the estate, notifying the various institutions and obtaining all necessary estate information
  • Obtaining a grant of probate or letters of administration as appropriate
  • Dealing with and advice re Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax, liaising with HMRC
  • Notifying and liaising with the beneficiaries of the estate
  • Preparing a deed of variation or a deed of disclaimer in relation to the estate
  • Selling or transferring the various assets due to the beneficiaries
  • Dealing with foreign assets and Wills
  • Advice re estate disputes and claims against an estate

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