Information you'll need to hand
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 suitable)
- Child Benefit number
- tax reference number
- organ donor card (if registered)
After a death you will have to act quickly if it was the wish of the deceased or the nearest relative to donate organs for transplant.
The next-of-kin will usually be approached to make sure they do not object to organ donation.
If the death has to be reported to the coroner, the coroner’s consent may be necessary before the organs or body can be donated. A medical certificate must be issued before any organs can be removed or the body donated for medical teaching.
The doctor attending will advise on procedure. After organ donation, the body is released to the relatives.
First five days
- tell 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 Jobs and Benefits office about 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 getting any benefits or tax credits you can contact the Bereavement Service
- if the person who has died was a Blue badge holder, the badge must be returned to the Blue Badge Unit
- if the deceased was the first named on an insurance policy, make contact as early as possible to check that you are still insured
Surviving relatives and friends of the deceased may need to make a new will. You don't need to do this urgently, but it's important to ask a solicitor about this as soon as you can.
If there is a will
Contact the executor if this isn't you. This person is usually nominated in the will to sort out the deceased's affairs. They can then start the process of applying for 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'
Find out more about what to do if there is no will.
Who to tell
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. You can print it off and 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)
- Land & Property Services (LPS) if they were a ratepayer or getting Housing Benefit, Rate Relief or Rate Rebate
- UK Identity and Passport Service or Irish Passport office to return and cancel a passport
- Driver Vehicle Agency (DVA) to return any driving licence, cancel car tax or return car registration documents/change ownership
- Local councils in Northern Ireland
- general insurance companies for home, car, travel or medical
- pension providers
- life insurance companies
- banks and building societies
- mortgage provider
- hire purchase or loan companies
- credit card providers and any 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
Other people or organisations to tell
- 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 or regular place of worship
- social groups the deceased belonged
- anyone the deceased owed money to
- anyone who owed the deceased money
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 Jobs and Benefits office as soon as possible to find out.
If you pay rates you may also be eligible for rate relief and exclusions like Lone Pensioner Allowance or Housing Benefit/Rate Relief.
Advice, support and comfort for the bereaved
After the death of a loved one, general advice and support is available from doctors, solicitors and social services. There are many organisations that can also offer help according to your particular circumstances.
You can get practical help from a number of people and organisations, for example:
- funeral director
- family doctor
- welfare officers and personnel departments at your workplace
- priest or minister of religion
- local social services
A health visitor or district nurse who attended the deceased may also be able to help. If death was in a hospital, ask the sister or hospital chaplain.
You may feel that you want to talk with someone sympathetic who is outside your immediate family or with people who have been through a similar experience. Below is a list of the organisations that provide help and support to the bereaved.
- age NI
- Cruse Bereavement Care
- The Lullaby Trust
- The Miscarriage Association
- Support After Murder and Manslaughter (SAMM)
- The Terrence Higgins Trust (AIDS or HIV)
- Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide
- Child Bereavement UK