We understand that losing someone close to you is traumatic and making decisions and arrangements will be difficult. There are, however, some things you will need to deal with immediately as part of the bereavement process.
To support you during this time, we have compiled some advice about the key steps you need to take.
You will learn a great deal of information from the treating hospital or GP, the registrar of births, deaths and marriages, or even your chosen funeral director.
If you need to discuss anything or need any further help, please do not hesitate to contact us and ask for the Private Wealth team.
Steps to be taken within the first few days
Where death is by natural causes, generally the deceased’s GP or hospital doctor will be in a position to issue a medical certificate as to the cause of death. In situations such as this, the death needs to be registered within five working days and must be registered in the area where the person has died rather than the area where the person lived.
Hospitals and GPs will always be able to provide the address of the local registrar. Sometimes an appointment will be required. Generally, however, registrars try to be very flexible.
Information needed for registration is the full name, address and occupation of the deceased, any previous names, place and date of birth, full details of the surviving spouse or partner and general information as to whether any state benefits were being received.
You will need to take with you the following documents:
- A medical certificate of the cause of death
- If available, birth certificate, marriage certificate/civil partnership certificate, NHS medical card
Registration of death is generally undertaken by the closest relative. In cases where no such relative is available, registration can be undertaken by other people, such as someone present at the death or the person making the funeral arrangements.
Once the death has been registered a death certificate will be issued. This will need to be taken to the funeral director, as they cannot arrange for either a burial or cremation without this.
You will also receive a certificate of registration of death if the deceased was receiving state benefit which will need to be completed and posted to the address on the form. Some registrars also issue pension notification forms for specific industries — for example coal mining.
In cases where death is sudden or unexpected, for example as a result of an accident, the position is slightly different.
The hospital or doctor will notify the coroner of the death. The coroner is responsible for investigating the cause of death and will generally arrange for a post-mortem examination of the body. If, after the post mortem, the coroner can make a conclusive decision upon the cause of death, or if there are no suspicious circumstances, they can issue a certificate for either burial or cremation. Generally, this certificate is issued directly to the funeral director.
The coroner will advise the next of kin upon formal registration of the death with the registrar, although practices can vary from area to area.
A formal death certificate will be delayed until after the post mortem and, very often, until after the funeral itself.
The coroner may also decide there needs to be a further investigation into the death and that an inquest is necessary. While the funeral will generally not be delayed, the issue of an actual death certificate from a registrar can be. The coroner can, however, issue interim certificates to banks and building societies, so the next of kin can start to administer the estate.
An inquest is essentially a legal enquiry into the cause and circumstance of death. Relatives may attend the hearing and ask questions and they can also be represented by a solicitor.
Update Your Will And Insurance Arrangements
You may now need to update your own will and consider whether life Insurance or income protection insurance is a priority.
Also check any policies in which you may have previously specified the deceased person as the beneficiary. This could apply to any pension benefits and death in service benefits you enjoy through your work. You will need to make new nominations and we can help with that as well.
Contact Us Today
Our team of qualified legal experts can help you with:
- Notifying the right people and organisations
- Helping you understand what happens if there is no will
- Assessing an inheritance tax liability
- Applying for a Grant of Probate (if there is a will)
- Applying for letters of administration (if there is no will)
- Collecting assets
- Dealing with tax returns
- Distributing assets to beneficiaries
- Assessing possible tax planning opportunities
- Protecting a personal injury claim process by acting quickly
If you need advice and assistance at this difficult time, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to assist.