Whether it’s due to a period of illness, or an unexpected event, it’s an emotional time when you have to deal with the death of someone close to you.

We’re all living life to the full, so it’s hard to imagine setting time aside to make plans for our death.   But making a plan in advance can mean that your loved ones have less to deal with during such a difficult time.

Perhaps one of the most reassuring things to know, if you’ve suffered a recent bereavement, is that you don’t have to face things on your own.  In addition to the many professionals who can help you deal with practical and financial matters, there are organisations dedicated to providing support at this difficult time such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Write and register your will
It's not only writing your will which is a fundamental part of the process but also registering it is important to to ensure it will be found in the future. Certainty the National Will Register works to ensure that a person’s Will is not overlooked, lost or untraced following their death and, as far as possible, that a Will is administered in accordance with the testators wishes. For more information visit our Write and Register a Will Week hub.

Arranging the funeral
For practical arrangements, such as finding out how to pay for a funeral, you’ll need to contact a Funeral Director.  Costs vary upwards from around £1,000, but if you need financial help to pay for the funeral, then the Government’s Social Fund may help.  Everyone connected with bereavement services knows that these matters need to be handled sensitively, so it’s unlikely that you’ll need to make any pressurised decisions.  The Funeral Director will advise you to check the deceased’s will for any specific instructions about a cremation or burial and check their paperwork for any policies  to cover funeral costs.

Dealing with practical matters
Usually, the attending doctor will provide you with a certificate giving the cause of the death.  You’ll then need to take this document to register the death within five days at the local Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.  The Registrar will give you a Death Certificate and also a form which authorises the burial or cremation – known as the ‘green form’. It’s worth asking the registrar for several copies of the Death Certificate as anyone who needs to be notified officially will ask for a copy, but you will have to pay for each copy (each registry office sets it own charges).  There is also now an online service set up by Government called ‘Tell Us Once’ which will notify central government departments (like HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions) and the local council of the death, so you won’t have to send death certificates to cancel driving licence, state pension etc.  The organisations notified by this service may contact next of kin or the executors of the will.  When you register the death at your local Registry Office, you will be told how to access the service.  If you don’t have access to the internet, you’ll have to contact all the relevant departments individually – ask the registrar if they have any leaflets that can help you work out how to do this.

Organising personal affairs after the funeral
Even though it’s a difficult time, there are some practical matters that you’ll need to deal with.  If the deceased was your spouse or civil partner, or you are a dependent then you may want advice on things like transferring pension payments, claiming money from a life insurance policy, accessing savings and investments, or even simply paying household bills.

A solicitor or financial adviser can guide you through the processes – and also give you advice on dealing with the will and any inheritance tax due on the estate.  If you need advice, why not use our search tools to find a financial adviser or solicitor near you, who will be happy to explain how they can help during this difficult time.

Questions you might like to ask a financial adviser or solicitor…

  • How can I access our joint savings to pay my bills?
  • Where can I get copies of the death certificate?
  • Who do I have to tell about this bereavement, and how can they help?