This is the first article in a three-part series of how the handle the immediate aftermath of someone who died, and entrusted the sad task to you. Perhaps you never discussed it. However as their partner you have decided to run with the ball.
In this, the first part of this mini-series we’ll discuss the admin side. In the second, which follows shortly we’ll cover the probate angle, in other words how do you deal with their assets. The third and final one will explain how to finalise the estate
Step 1: Report the Death
If your loved one died naturally at home, the simplest is to call the doctor to confirm the death, and issue a medical certificate stating the cause. However, if they passed away in a care home or at hospital the people there will take care of that for you.
If the death suggests something untoward happened, you have a duty to inform the police. In that case, you may need to get a letter from the coroner giving you permission to proceed further.
Step 2: Register the Death
None of the steps that follow should take place without telling the government the person has passed on. We suggest you follow the sequence of steps in this article, as things will fall in place a little easier.
Registering a death normally falls to a close family member or the person making the funeral arrangements. However, this does not include the funeral director. A death must be registered within 5 days at the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths. You will need either a death certificate or coroner’s letter to do so.
The registrar’s office will provide a certificate for burial or cremation. They will also hand you a form to send to the Department for Work and Pensions to close out on the deceased’s benefits.
Step 3: Complete the Official Notifications
The Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths will also provide you with a unique reference number you will need to cite as you continue with the process. There are quite a number of government bodies to inform.
The UK government has put a ‘Tell Us Once’ online service to help you with this. In headline terms, you enter the late person’s demographic information, plus their entitlements and information regarding next of kin and the person dealing with the estate.
The Tell Us Once online service will inform all the officials concerned what happened, which is another load off your mind. However you still have to handle the non-government side yourself. Your to-do list should include banks, utility companies, landlords, mortgage lenders etc.
Step 4: Arrange the Funeral
An executor usually arranges the funeral because they may use the deceased’s funds to pay for it. However, you could also do this as the surviving spouse, and claim the expenses from the estate.
It’s also possible the late person had funeral insurance, or their benefits included government assistance. Other than that, the funeral director will know what to do, once you hand them the certificate for burial or cremation of the remains.
The second article in this short series includes dealing with the late person’s estate. You don’t have to do this right away. Wait until the funeral is over and you have taken a few days out to come to terms, as best you can with what has happened.