What to do when someone dies checklist
When someone dies there are many decisions and arrangements to be made. Sadly, these have to be made at a time of personal distress. Some of these things can be done by a close relative or friend; others need to be done by the executor or administrator of the estate - the people appointed to carry out the terms of a will.
To help you, nidirect offers a simple checklist to guide you through the process. Before you start, it is very useful to have the following information to hand about the person who has died. This will make the task of completing any forms or documents much easier.
- National Insurance number
- NHS number
- date and place of birth
- date of marriage or civil partnership (if appropriate)
- Child Benefit number
- tax reference number
- Documents and information needed when someone dies
- Wills and probate
What to do in the first five days
- notify the family doctor
- register the death at the relevant Registrar's Office, except where the death has been referred to the Coroner
- find the will - the deceased person's solicitor may have a copy if you can't find one
- begin funeral arrangements - you will need to check the will for any special requests
- if relevant, a completed Form 36 should be sent to the local Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office regarding the deceased's benefits (given to you when you register the death; read the reverse to see if it applies)
- if the person who has died was receiving any benefits or tax credits you can contact The Bereavement Service
The Bereavement Service
If you need to report the death of someone receiving Social Security benefits, you can do this by contacting The Bereavement Service.
The Bereavement Service will:
- record the date of death and notify each office that paid benefit to the deceased
- offer you an eligibility check, as you may be entitled to claim benefits
If you are eligible to make a claim for Bereavement Benefits and/or a Social Fund Funeral payment The Bereavement Service can take the information for your application over the phone and forward this to the relevant office.
If there is a will
- contact the executor if this isn't you (usually nominated in the will to sort out the deceased's affairs) to enable them to start the process of obtaining probate.
If there is no will
- decide who will apply to sort out the deceased's affairs
- contact the Probate Registry to apply for 'letters of administration'
- What to do if there is no will
- What is probate?
- Applying for probate in Northern Ireland
Who else to contact
As well as informing people who are close to the person, in many cases you'll need to close down accounts, or cancel or change insurance details, subscriptions, agreements, payments or direct debits.
Here's a list to help you keep track; just cross through the ones that don't apply:
- relatives and friends
- the relevant Tax Office
- National Insurance Contributions Office if they were self-employed (to cancel payments)
- Child Benefit Office (at latest within eight weeks)
- local council if they paid rates, had a parking permit, were issued with a Blue Badge for disabled parking, or received social services help, attended day care or similar
- UK Identity and Passport Service, to return and cancel a passport
- DVA, to return any driving licence, cancel car tax or return car registration documents/change ownership
- Contact us (HMRC website)
- Claim child benefit online (do it online section)
- Local councils in Northern Ireland (contacts section)
- Her Majesty's Passport Office (Belfast Passport Customer Service Centre (contacts section)
- Notifying DVA of a bereavement (motoring section)
- general insurance companies - for example,contents, car, travel or medical
- any other company with which the deceased may have had rental, hire purchase or loan agreements
- if the deceased was the first named on an insurance policy, make contact as early as possible to check that you are still insured
- pension providers/life insurance companies
- banks and building societies
- mortgage provider
- hire purchase or loan companies
- credit card providers/store cards
Utilities and household contacts
- landlord or local authority if they rented a property
- any private organisation/agency providing home help
- utility companies if accounts were in the deceased's name
- Royal Mail, if mail needs re-directing
- TV/internet companies with which the deceased had subscriptions
- Local councils in Northern Ireland (contacts section)
- Royal Mail redirection service
Other useful contacts
- Bereavement Register and Deceased Preference Service to remove the deceased's name from mailing lists and databases
- clubs, trade unions, associations with seasonal membership for cancellation and refunds
- church/regular place of worship
- social groups to which the deceased belonged
- creditors - anyone to whom the deceased owed money
- debtors - anyone who owed the deceased money
- Register with the Bereavement Register
- Deceased Preference Service
Benefits and financial help
You may be able to claim certain benefits and one-off payments if you lived with or were dependent on the deceased. Time limits apply, so contact your nearest Social Security or Jobs & Benefits office as soon as possible to find out.
- Contact Social Security or Jobs & Benefits Office
- make a claim for Bereavement Allowance
- make a claim for Widowed Parents Allowance
- make a claim for a Bereavement Payment
- make a claim for a Funeral Payment
- check your current benefits and tax credits
- Social Security / Jobs and Benefits Offices (contacts section)
- Apply for Bereavement Benefits (do it online section)
- Widowed Parent's Allowance (money, tax and benefits section)
- Bereavement Payment (money, tax and benefits section)
- Funeral Payments (money, tax and benefits section)
Making a new will
Surviving relatives and friends of the deceased may need to make a new will. It's important to ask a solicitor about this.
Bereavement - counselling and support
Everyone deals with bereavement in their own way. If you or someone you know needs counselling or support, ask your family doctor or contact an organisation, such as Cruse Bereavement Care. Its aim is to promote the well-being of bereaved people and provides counselling and support. It also offers information, advice, education and training services.
Your local council may provide support and advice about the arrangements that need to be made after a bereavement, such as registering the death and obtaining a death certificate. If you follow the link to the bereavement service you can enter details of where you live and you will be directed to your local authority website where you can find out more.