here to help
The death of a family member or close friend brings with it a lot of complicated procedures for those responsible for making the necessary arrangements. The death needs to be registered, there are people and organisations to notify, funeral arrangements to be made, the Will to be dealt with and a Grant of Representation may need to be obtained. We understand that all of this can be daunting when grief is still fresh. To bring you peace of mind, we have put together this easy to follow guide for the people you care for the most. So if the worst should happen, you can be sure that your family and close friends will know exactly what to do and how to avoid unnecessary complications and worries.
advice and useful information
Below we have set out some practical steps that need to be taken if a death occurs:
Register the death
Registration should be done as soon as possible and always within five days of the death. If it has occurred at home, the family doctor, next of kin and funeral director need to be contacted. If the death occurs in hospital, their staff will contact the doctor and relatives.
If the doctor can certify the cause of death, they will provide a Medical Certificate that shows the cause of death. This is free of charge and will be in a sealed envelope addressed to the Registrar. They will also supply a Formal Notice stating that the doctor has signed the Medical Certificate with advice on how to register the death.
Wherever the death occurs it has to be registered with the local Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths, whose name and address will be on the envelope containing the Medical Certificate. It can also be found in the phone book, the Citizens Advice Bureau, the hospital, the doctor's surgery, the local council, the post office and the police station.
Arrange the funeral
Once the Registrar has issued copies of the Death Certificate the funeral can be arranged. You don't have to use a funeral director if you'd prefer to make your own arrangements, but most people tend to go to a reputable company that has been recommended to them. The funeral is a time for saying goodbye to your loved one and it gives family and friends the chance to support and comfort each other.
It is advisable to get an estimate in advance and to compare costs from different companies. If you are on a low income and need help paying for the funeral, you may qualify for benefit. Your local benefits office or the Citizens Advice Bureau can help you claim.
Grant of Representation
When someone dies it is important to find out if there is a Will and who is the person responsible for dealing with the estate. The Will says what should happen to the money, property and possessions left by the deceased. The personal representative or executor ensures that the wishes in the Will are carried out and pays all debts, taxes and expenses, including the funeral fees from the estate, before the balance is shared out between the beneficiaries.
One of the executors may have to apply for a Grant of Representation. The term 'Grant of Representation' covers both Probate and Letters of Administration in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and Confirmation in Scotland. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland - if the deceased has left a Will the executors may apply to prove the Will (probate). If there is no Will, or the executors refuse to act, the next of kin may apply for Letters of Administration. However if the deceased lived in Scotland the next of kin may need to apply for Confirmation. A Grant of Representation will give the executors/next of kin recognised authority to pay bills, and deal with the estate. The leaflet 'Do you need a Grant of Probate?' covers the subject and is available from Registrars and the Citizens Advice Bureau.
If the whole estate comes to less than £5000 it may be possible for it to be released without a Grant of Representation. If the sum of the estate is greater, a Grant of Representation is required to free assets held by banks, building societies and insurance companies, and to deal with other legal matters.