Bereavement: What to do when a loved one dies
When someone close to you dies there can be many things to do, often at a time of great personal distress. With so many difficult decisions to make, it can be hard to know where to start.
What to do first
After the loss of someone close to you, there are a few immediate legal steps to take:
- Ask their GP or doctor to provide a medical certificate.
- Register their passing. You can do this by taking the medical certificate to the registrar of births, deaths and marriages. The process varies depending on whether the person died at home, overseas or in a hospital. There are also variations for different parts of the UK. The Government provides a helpful step-by-step guide to tell you exactly what you need to do – and how quickly you need to do it. In England and Wales, it’s typically within five days of their passing.
- The registrar will provide you with a certificate that enables the funeral to go ahead. You can also now use a copy of the registrar’s record of death to help begin settling financial matters.
- Make arrangements for the funeral. Your loved one may have left instructions in a will, or you may be tasked with planning this. You can do this yourself by contacting the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local council. Or you could appoint a funeral director to manage things on your behalf.
Is there a will?
- As soon as possible, find out whether your loved one made a will. It may contain details about how they wish their funeral arrangements to be made (and whether they arranged to pay for the funeral themselves).
- If you don’t know where the will is, get in touch with their accountant or solicitor who should be able to help. It will explain what should happen to their estate and name an executor who will be responsible for dealing with their money, property and possessions.
- If you are not the executor of the will, you will need to notify them as soon as possible about the loss of your loved one, since they will be responsible for dealing with the estate. A solicitor can help you to do this.
- If there is no will, which is known as dying ‘intestate’, an administrator will need to be appointed to manage the estate. You will find lots of information on how this process works in different parts of the UK here.
Your next steps
- After you’ve completed the steps outlined above, there are a number of other organisations you need to inform.
- The Government runs a useful ‘Tell us once' service that will inform all government departments on your behalf. You’ll also need to contact their bank and any mortgage, pension, insurance and other financial service providers.
- To help you keep on top of correspondence, the Post Office can also redirect mail for you.
- If you need specialist support about the things that have to be done after a death, our dedicated bereavement teams can take you through everything you need to think about from a financial point of view.
- You can arrange to meet with a bereavement adviser by visiting your local Lloyds Bank branch or by calling us on 0800 015 0012. They’ll help you in any way they can.
Where to find out more
There are many useful websites where you can find further information about the steps you need to take after losing someone close to you:
- The Citizens Advice Bureau offers free advice about legal matters along with advice on where to find counselling and support.
- The Government provides practical information about the actions you need to take, including information about the ‘Tell us once’ service.
- The Probate Registry enables you to apply for powers to process the will.
- The Bereavement Register is a free service that will help to reduce the amount of direct mail being sent to the deceased’s address.
- The NHS can provide useful information and support during bereavement.
- Grief Encounter helps children and their families deal with the loss of someone close to them.
- The National Association of Funeral Directors, National Federation of Funeral Directors and The Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors can help with funeral arrangements.
Important legal information
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