How to handle finances after a loved one’s death

Harvey Jones

Register the death

The first thing you need to do is to get a medical certificate from a GP or hospital doctor, required to register the death.

The death must be registered within five days in England and Wales, or eight days in Scotland. You can do this online at gov.uk/register-a-death

You will then need to arrange the funeral, either using a funeral director or yourself.

Look for a funeral director who belongs to one of the following organisations:

  • National Association of Funeral Directors
  • National Federation of Funeral Directors
  • Society of Allied
  • Independent Funeral Directors

Funeral costs

Arranging a funeral isn’t cheap. The average ceremony now costs £3,897, with the cost of dying totalling £8,802 per person, including probate, headstone and flowers, according to SunLife’s 2016 Cost of Dying report.

Check whether any financial provision has been made, say, by paying into a funeral plan or an over-50s life insurance policy.

You can apply for a Funeral Payment if you have difficulty affording one.

Time to tell

You have to inform a string of government agencies, although the Tell Us Once service allows you to contact them in one go.

Gather key information such as date of birth, name and address, and National Insurance, driving licence and passport numbers.

You will also need information on any state pension or other benefit entitlements they were are claiming, local council services received, name and address of their next of kin and any surviving spouse or civil partner, as well as contact details for the estate’s executor.

Tell Us Once will notify HM Revenue and Customs, the Department for Work and Pensions, your local council, passport office and DVLA. If the service is unavailable in your area, you will have to contact these organisations directly.

Don’t forget to inform any caregivers, cancel any hospital appointments, and tell their employer if they have one.

You will also have to tell various financial organisations, including banks and building societies, life, motor, travel and household insurers, mortgage, utility, mobile phone, telephone and broadband companies, and the TV licensing authority.

Where there’s a will

If they have written a will you need to inform the appointed executors, as it is their job to manage the estate. Otherwise, contact a next of kin or close relative, who should apply to the courts to act as the administrator.

If you are concerned about the cost of legal advice, you could do much of the administration yourself and only get support for more complex areas. Legal fees can be paid out of the estate.

You can call the probate and inheritance tax helpline on 0300 123 1072.

Making plans

You should also check their regular outgoings, and cancel any charitable donations, club memberships or magazine subscriptions. You may also want to contact their dentist, optician or regular hairdresser.

Redirect mail, close online accounts such as Google, Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, and unsubscribe to regular email offers and alerts.

Nobody likes to think about death, but planning ahead today can soften the blow when it finally comes. 

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