What to do when a loved one dies

As Lawyers specialising in Wills and Probate, we speak to clients on a daily basis who ask us questions regarding the complexities of a Will or obtaining a Grant of Probate. One of the things that we have noticed is that there is plenty of information available online on why you should make a Will or why you need to obtain Probate. Understandably however, the reality is, so many people worry about what they need to do when someone dies, as it is not something that most people have very much experience of.

    • What are the next steps to be taken?
    • Is there anything that should you should do immediately?
    • And how do you arrange a funeral?

These added anxieties only exacerbate what is already an overwhelming and difficult time.

The following guide has been written to help you prioritise the next steps that need to be taken, to include recent changes in procedure during the Coronavirus Pandemic and will answer some of the questions that we are being asked by our clients most often.

How do I obtain the medical certificate and register the death?

During the Coronavirus Pandemic, the steps involved to register a death in the UK have changed as follows:

  • An electronic copy of the Medical Certificate cause of death will be sent by the Doctor to the specified registrar and a copy will also be sent to the family member or representative (known as the informant) and funeral directors.
  • The informant must then contact the registrar by telephone or email to make arrangements to begin the registration of death process.
  • The informant will need to have the following information ready to provide to the registrar:-
    • Informant’s personal details including phone number and email
    • The deceased’s date of birth and details of any marriages
  • The registrar will email a copy of the register entry to the informant to review and approve. If the informant does not have an email facility the details will be read over the telephone. Once approved, the registrar will write the informant’s signature on the form and include the phrase “transcribed”.
  •  informant and funeral director.
  • The original Death Certificate will then be posted to the informant.

How do I locate the Will?

If you are certain that a Will was made by the Deceased, then it is imperative that it is located. If you are unable to find the Will at home, you can contact local Law firms or the Deceased’s Bank as it is common for Wills to be stored with them. Another option is to conduct a search of the National Wills Registry with Certainty.

The Will provides confirmation of the following:-

  • The Executors (the people responsible for administering the Estate)
  • Any funeral instructions
  • How the Estate is to be distributed

If there is no Will, the Deceased will have passed away intestate and the intestacy rules will determine who has the legal authority to administer the Estate and how the assets are to be divided.

How do I arrange a funeral?

You will need to contact a funeral director to arrange a traditional ceremony such as a burial or cremation. During the Coronavirus Pandemic, you can do this from your home by contacting a funeral director online or over the telephone.

The cost of the funeral can be paid directly from the Deceased’s Bank account. Alternatively, if you pay this directly, then you can be reimbursed for this expense from the Estate.

How do I begin administration of the Estate?

If the Deceased left a Will, the appointed executors will need to begin the Estate Administration. If there is no Will, the lawful administrators under the Rules of Intestacy will have the authority to do this.

The first steps will be to secure any property to ensure that all valuables have been removed and kept in safe storage, and that any property insurance has been updated to confirm that the property is unoccupied.

Accurate valuations of all assets as at the date of death will need to be obtained and the appropriate HMRC Inheritance Tax Forms completed. It is advisable to seek the advice of a legal professional with regard to the Estate Administration to ensure that the Estate is administered in accordance with the law and that any Inheritance Tax papers are dealt with efficiently, to include the claiming of any additional Inheritance Tax exemptions which are available.

At Boyletts Law Ltd, we are always happy to answer any questions that you may have regarding the death of a loved one. We understand the pain and heartbreak that bereavement brings and offer a compassionate and friendly service, together with the highest quality of legal advice to guide you through the process every step of the way.

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