When someone dies there are many things to sort out. When we are grieving for the loss of someone we loved, this can seem overwhelming.
The first thing to do
If a person dies at home you should call their GP who will give you a medical certificate showing the cause of death and informing you how to register the death. If a person dies in hospital the medical certificate will be issued by the hospital. If the death was unexpected or a GP has not seen the person within the 14 days before their death, then the death has to be reported to the coroner who may order a post-mortem or an inquest, in which case the funeral may have to be delayed.
Register the death
You must register the death with the Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths for the district in which the death took place.
The Registrar will need:
The medical certificate, full name of the deceased, the date and place of death, the address of the deceased, the date and place of deceased’s birth, the deceased’s last occupation, the name, date of birth and occupation of the deceased’s spouse or civil partner.
The Registrar will give you:
A certificate for burial or cremation, a certificate of registration of death which you should complete and return to the deceased’s local social security office and a Death Certificate. It is worth getting more than one copy as they are needed for the probate application and for any pension providers, life insurance companies, banks and building societies.
Arranging the Funeral
It is worth checking the deceased’s Will to see if it includes any instructions about their funeral.
The person who arranges the funeral will be responsible for ensuring that it is paid for. You should check to see if the deceased had a funeral plan, if not it may be possible for funds in a current account to be released. This may not be possible until probate is granted, in which case you may have to pay the costs yourself and wait to be reimbursed.
Informing the authorities about the death
You should tell HM Revenue and Customs, the deceased’s bank and building society, insurance company, utility providers, dentist and optician. Their driving licence should be returned to the DVLA and their passport to the Passport Office.
Dealing with the estate of the deceased
If there is a Will this will name executors who will be responsible for dealing with the deceased’s estate. If there is no Will then the Intestacy Rules set out who will be responsible for dealing with the estate. These rules are complex and you may need legal advice. It isn’t always necessary to apply for a Grant of Probate if the estate is very small.
Before Probate is granted any Inheritance Tax must be paid. At present Inheritance Tax is payable at 40% on an estate worth more than £325,000, unless the estate passes to the deceased’s estate or to charity. Any Inheritance Tax payable is due within 6 months of the date of death. The rules relating to Inheritance Tax are complex and you may want to get legal advice.
Henrietta Brett looks after the Wills & Probate team at FM&C Solicitors. She may be contacted on +44 (0)7453 624 619 or +44 (0)1799 526 849.