After someone passes away there are a number of  administrative  tasks that need to be completed.  This article describes the main steps that you’ll need to take in order to sort out your loved one’s affairs. 

We’ve also provided links to other resources available on our website, which deal with topics such as probate and inheritance tax in more detail.

1 – Get a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death

This is the legal document that explains how someone died.  If the cause of death is clear, a doctor can issue the certificate very quickly.  If someone dies  suddenly, or the cause isn’t clear, then the case will be referred to the coroner and may need a post mortem before a certificate can be issued.

2 – Register the death

Once you have the Medical Certificate, you’ll have up to 5 days to register the death. This includes weekends and bank holidays and applies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland – in Scotland you have 8 days. To register the death, you’ll need to contact the Register Office nearest to where the person died (see the useful links section below).  

Checklist of documents to take to the Register Office:

  • Medical Certificate showing cause of death

Plus (if you have them):

  • NHS medical card or number
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate
  • Proof of their address
  • Birth Certificate

After the death is registered, you will be able to obtain copies of the death certificate. You can then start dealing with the financial, household and digital accounts that may need to be closed / transferred / amended. 

You will need to pay for each copy of the death certificate.  At the time of writing, this is £11 per copy. 

3 – Arrange the Funeral

It may be that the person who died left a will describing their wishes for funeral arrangements.  They may also have had a funeral plan where most of the costs were covered. If you’re not sure whether your loved one had a funeral plan, see this article which has more detail on how you can find out.   

Otherwise, you’ll need to make some decisions about the type, size and cost of the funeral that you think is appropriate.  

The main steps you need to take are:

  • Choose a funeral director and the kind of funeral you want
  • Tell family and friends about the funeral
  • Create a funeral notice

The next job is to notify services that the person has passed away.

4 – Notify institutions and service providers of the death

  • You can use “Tell Us Once” to notify government departments

“Tell us once” is a government service that allows you to inform multiple  government departments about the death of your loved one at the same time.  When you go to register the death, the registrar will give you a Unique Reference Number so that you can do this yourself or over the phone (See the Useful Links section, below).

Useful documents to have available when using Tell Us Once are:

  • Birth Certificate
  • National Insurance Number (found on pension and benefit letters)
  • Passport
  • Driving Licence
  • Council Tax Letters
  • Benefit Letters (Housing Benefit, Universal Credit etc)
  • Pension information
  • You can use Settld to notify everyone else

Settld is a secure online service that makes it easy for you to handle the administration surrounding your loved one’s financial, digital and household accounts. From banks and energy providers to online streaming services, Settld can notify over 750 organisations on your behalf, in one go. You can also use Settld to request account transfers and changes, and obtain the date-of-death balances you’ll need for probate. Settld has an secure online dashboard which lets you track the progress of your requests – so you always know where you stand. Alternatively, you can contact companies separately. 

Whether you’re  using Settld or contacting companies separately, it’s useful to have the following:

  1. The death certificate 
  2. A copy of the will (if there is one)
  3. (ideally) recent bills / statements and account / or reference numbers  
  • Stop Unwanted Marketing Letters

You can stop marketing letters being sent to someone who’s passed away by contacting two organisations:

    • Register with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) which will stop post coming from any members of the Direct Marketing Association:

Mailing Preference Service, FREEPOST 29 LON20771 , London, W1E 0ZT
MPS Registration Line: 0845 703 4599
Fax: 020 7323 4226
Email: mps@dma.org.uk
Website: www.mpsonline.org.uk

    • Contact The Bereavement Register for free (link below)

5 – Deal with the estate

Check if you need to apply for probate

In order to deal with the estate, you may need to apply to the Government’s Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate (if there is a will) or Letters of Administration (if there isn’t a will). We have articles to help you on Getting Probate and What to do if there isn’t a Will.

You probably won’t need to apply for Grant of Probate if:

  •  The person who died only had joint assets with a spouse or civil partner and the estate was worth less than £1,000,000.
  • The value of the deceased’s  accounts was less than £5,000
Value the estate

The Value of the Estate is the value of all assets of the person who died that had in their sole name, minus all the liabilities (debts, bank loans, mortgages, credit card bills). To value the estate, you will need to find out how much property, possessions, bank accounts and all service accounts (utilities, telephone, internet, entertainment etc) are worth.  For all types of accounts you will need to obtain Date of Death Balances.  

Date of Death Balancethis is the value of an asset or liability on the day that the person passed away

Settld can help you to obtain date of death balances by contacting companies on your behalf. Alternatively you can contact each of the companies that the person who died had an account with individually.

Pay debts, inheritance tax and distribute inheritance

The executor / administrator of the estate will be responsible for settling any debts, including any inheritance tax that is due. Any inheritance can then be distributed according to the will.  If there’s no will, and the estate is intestate, then Intestacy Rules apply. 

At Settld, we specialise in simplifying the process of end-of-life administration. Our service is free to members of the public and is designed to make it easy for you to notify companies when a loved one has died, and request closure, transfer or amendment of their accounts. All you have to do is fill in a simple online form.

If you’d like to know more about Settld and how we can help,  visit our website www.settld.care or you can email support@settld.care or call us on 0203 286 1398 (10am-6pm, Monday to Friday)

Further Reading:

Age UK: What to do when someone dies
Age UK: Dealing with an Estate
Bereavement Register Service
GOV.UK: Tell Us Once
GOV.UK: Find a register office
GOV.UK:https://www.gov.uk/after-a-death
Inheritance Tax Forms: Which to use and what will you owe?