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A practical guide to help you deal with the death of a loved one

Written by: Richard Sandys-Renton
While no-one can be fully prepared to deal with bereavement, there are some straightforward steps you can follow to help make things a little easier during this difficult time.

The time immediately after the death of a loved one can be overwhelming. Not only are you grieving but you’re also faced with having to contact many different agencies and organisations to get the deceased’s affairs in order.

We know this is a difficult time for people so this checklist should help you manage the situation, whatever the deceased’s financial circumstances.

Where to start

The government runs a helpful service called ‘Tell Us Once’, designed to assist with the administration process of dealing with someone’s death. When you register the death you will be told whether or not the service is available in your area. If it is, you will need the following information relating to the person who has died: 

  • Date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • Driving licence number
  • Passport number

In certain circumstances, you may also need to provide more detailed information, such as:

  • Any benefits or entitlements they were receiving, for example the state pension
  • Any local council services they were getting, for example the Blue Badge
  • The name and address of their next of kin
  • The name and address of any surviving spouse or civil partner
  • The 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 receiving or paying in to.

It’s worth noting that if you’re unrelated to the deceased, you’ll need permission from their next of kin (or their executor, administrator or anyone claiming joint benefits with them) before you share their details with anyone or any organisations.

The ‘Tell Us Once’ service helps by notifying:

  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – to deal with tax and cancel benefits
  • The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – to cancel benefits, such as income support
  • The Passport Office – to cancel a British passport
  • Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) – to cancel a driving licence
  • The local council – to cancel Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, a Blue Badge, inform council housing services, and remove the person from the electoral register
  • Public sector or armed forces pension schemes – to stop pension payments.

What’s next?

The ‘Tell Us Once’ service contacts a lot of organisations. However, there are some other things you will need to do in the event of a loved one’s death. Below is a checklist to consider following bereavement:

  • Funeral: is there a pre-paid funeral plan in place? If so, it will be important to understand exactly what elements it will pay for, and what needs to be funded separately.
  • A will: does the person hold one and if so, who holds it?
  • Stocks and shares: if they have any, are these held in a nominees name or in their own name?
  • Accountant and financial adviser: speak to these people and discuss pensions, life assurance and insurance policies (e.g. car, house and travel). With insurance policies it is useful to have a policy or reference number.
  • Mortgage provider and home insurance: find out about deeds to the property and speak to insurance providers.
  • Bank: find out who they bank with. It’s important to have branch details and account numbers.
  • NS&I: find out if they have any National Savings and Investments’ Premium Bonds. It is useful to have a reference number to quote.
  • Credit or debit and store cards: check if they have any rental, HP and Loan agreements and cancel them.
  • Mailing lists and databases: the Bereavement Register and Deceased Preference Service will remove the deceased’s name.
  • Utilities: notify gas, electricity, water, telephone, TV and internet suppliers.
  • Car: cancel insurance policies, tax and MOT.
  • Healthcare: find out if they are an organ donor, and notify any medical insurance providers, and their dentist.
  • Clubs and hobbies: cancel any paid-for memberships, such as gym or social club memberships.
  • Alumni: contact old school, college, university friends as well as employers to let them know about funeral plans.
  • Mail: think about redirecting mail and/or newspapers.

Richard Sandys-Renton is investment manager at Brewin Dolphin

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