Help & advice
When a loved one dies, here's how to take action despite your grief
5 min | 3 April 2023
There is plenty of help available at this difficult time, and this is a list of some of the things you'll need to take care of. It's not an exhaustive guide, and there may be other things to consider, such as whether there are trusts or minors.
I lost my parents five years apart, and although everyone’s experience is different, I found it was helpful to concentrate day by day on what I needed to do.
What you need to do
Register the death
The first thing you'll need to do is register the death. You will need the name, address, date and place of death, as well as the date of birth, marital status and occupation along with a medical certificate for cause of death and the GP's name and address. You can fill in the form online (Opens in new window) or if you prefer, here is a list of register offices (Opens in new window)
Organise the funeral
Then it will be time to arrange the funeral if this is the wish of the person who has died. They may have left written or verbal instructions. Once you have registered the death, you will receive a certificate for a burial to give to the funeral director or an application for a cremation, which you will need to fill out and give to the crematorium.
You can organise the funeral via a funeral director, or you can do it yourself (Opens in new window), in which case you should contact the cemeteries and crematorium department of your local council. If you prefer a non-religious funeral, The British Humanist Association or the Institute of Civil Funerals can help you organise it.
Inform people of the death
It’s very important to inform all those who need to know that the person has died. The Tell Us Once (Opens in new window) service will help you inform the most relevant government departments. This service is not available in Northern Ireland, but there is help with what to do at nidirect.gov.uk (Opens in new window) You'll also need to tell banks, utility companies and landlords or housing associations.
If the person who passed away was a Chase customer and you are too, you can upload the death certificate and other supporting documents via the app once you have notified customer support about a loved one's death.
If a parent has died and your remaining parent is too distressed to deal with arrangements, you are at liberty to help. I had experience of this when my mother died. My father was determined to organise everything, but I had to take charge once we met the funeral director, as my father became overwhelmed.
For most people, the funeral is an important focus in the weeks after the death. But once the funeral is over, there are many other issues to address.
Take care of financial issues
You should check whether you are due any bereavement benefits. If your spouse or civil partner has died, Age UK has a useful guide (Opens in new window) to the Bereavement Support Payment, which is not means-tested.
Your own taxes, benefits and pension might change depending on your relationship with the person who has died. To work out what you are entitled to, you could use this Age UK Benefits Calculator (Opens in new window) Moneyhelper, formerly the Money Advisory Service, also has useful advice (Opens in new window) on the financial issues that surround death and bereavement.
If the person who died has left a will, it will explain what should happen to the estate and name the executors, who will be responsible for dealing with the estate. If a person has died intestate, there is guidance on what to do at gov.uk (Opens in new window)
Dealing with the estate
You'll need to estimate the value of the estate to find out if you need to pay inheritance tax. You will need to pay inheritance tax if it is due – www.gov.uk (Opens in new window) has an inheritance tax guide here – and apply for probate. You will need to pay any debts or taxes that the person owes before you can distribute the estate as set out in the will or the law. And you'll need to update property records.
You may be eligible for extra payments from your husband, wife or civil partner’s pension or National Insurance contributions. Contact the Pension Service (Opens in new window) for full details. If your spouse had a workplace pension, there's some useful information on Moneyhelper (Opens in new window) including a letter template you can use to contact their pension provider.
If your husband, wife or civil partner was still in employment, you may be entitled to some benefits or assistance. You should contact their employer to inform them of the death and to ask if you're entitled to any assistance.
You need to be over State Pension age to claim extra payments from your husband, wife or civil partner’s State Pension. Payments will differ according to when you reached State Pension age. You may also be able to get pension payments from your partner’s private pension.
Right to live in the UK
If your right to live in the UK depends on your relationship with someone who has died, you may need to apply for a new visa. Two examples are 1. the partners and/or children of British citizens or those who had indefinite leave to remain (Opens in new window) in the UK and 2. British and Commonwealth nationals serving in His Majesty's forces.
There will be much to do, and it's important to allow yourself time to grieve. One piece of advice I found of comfort after my mother’s death and then my father’s was a quote from the American children’s television presenter Mr. Rodgers, whose own mother had told him to ‘look for the helpers’. And I would add, don’t be afraid to ask for help. I found there was a surprising number of people who were ready to come forward.