Losing the Ones We Love – A Brief Guide to the Steps to be Taken in the Event of a Death

Losing the Ones We Love – A Brief Guide to the Steps to be Taken in the Event of a Death

7th Tue, Apr, 2020

Losing a loved one is a hugely emotional experience yet, at what is a time of deep grief, some important and difficult decisions still need to be made. 

It is very easy to become overwhelmed by the responsibilities that arise when you lose a loved one so we have outlined below some of the key steps you must take when someone dies:

  1. Register the death 

This must be done within 5 days in the UK - this includes weekends and bank holidays.  Before you can register the death, you’ll need either:

  • a medical certificate - ask the GP or hospital doctor
  • permission from the coroner that you can register the death - if the death was reported to a coroner.  You’ll get a ‘certificate for a burial’ to give to the funeral director, or an application for cremation which you need to complete and give to the crematorium.

You must do one of these before the funeral can take place.

  1. Arrange the funeral

The funeral can usually only take place after the death is registered.

No-one ever wants to organise a funeral but, when the inevitable happens, choosing an appropriate funeral, burial or other way of saying goodbye to your loved one is an important part of remembering them.  Most people use a funeral director. 

Your choice of funeral director is important as you should feel comfortable and confident that you, and the person who has died, will be professionally and compassionately cared for and that the services offered are both within your budget and include a range of choices that are right for you. You may know a particular funeral director, they may have a good reputation in your area, or they may be recommended by a friend, your GP or religious advisor. 

Your funeral director can make all arrangements for a funeral, including burial or cremation and a religious or secular service.  He/she can also advise you on procedures and the documents you need to register a death.

You may wish to consider choosing a funeral director who’s a member of either:

Both organisations require their members to adhere to strict Codes of Practice.

Funeral costs can include:

  • funeral director fees
  • things the funeral director pays for on your behalf (called ‘disbursements’ or ‘third-party costs’) - for example, crematorium or cemetery fees, or a newspaper announcement about the death
  • local authority burial or cremation fees

The funeral can be paid for:

  • from a financial scheme the person had, for example a pre-paid funeral plan or insurance policy
  • by you, or other family members or friends
  • with money from the person’s estate (savings, for example) - getting access to this is called applying for a ‘grant of representation’ (sometimes called ‘applying for probate’)

You can apply for a Funeral Expenses Payment if you have difficulty paying for the funeral.

  1. Tell government about the death

The ‘Tell Us Once’ service allows you to inform in one go all the relevant government departments when someone dies. When you register the death, the registrar will:

  • let you know if the service is available in your area
  • give you the phone number
  • give you a unique reference number to use the Tell Us Once service online or by phone

After you register the death, you must use the service within 28 days.

You'll also need to tell banks, utility companies, and landlords or housing associations yourself.

TIP: Before you use Tell Us Once, you’ll need the following details of the person who died:

  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • driving licence number
  • vehicle registration number
  • passport number

You’ll also need:

  • details of any benefits or entitlements they were getting - for example State Pension
  • details of any local council services they were getting - for example Blue Badge
  • name, address, telephone number and the National Insurance number or date of birth of any surviving spouse or civil partner
  • name and address of their next of kin - if there is no surviving spouse or civil partner or their spouse or civil partner is not able to deal with their affairs
  • name, address and contact details of the person or company dealing with their estate (property, belongings and money), known as their ‘executor’ or ‘administrator’
  • details of any public sector or armed forces pension schemes they were getting or paying in to
  • You need permission from any surviving spouse or civil partner, the next of kin, executor, administrator or anyone who was claiming joint benefits or entitlements with the person who died, before you give their details.

NOTE: You’ll have to let the relevant organisations know about the death yourself if:

  1. Check if you can get bereavement benefits

You might be eligible for financial help.  Check if you can get:

  1. Deal with their estate

You might have to deal with the will, money and property of the person who's died if you're a close friend or relative, or the executor of the will.

There are a number of small, local charities listed on the Social Responsibility website (www.social-responsibility.co.uk) that can offer support, guidance and advice in dealing with death and bereavement.