Reducing the stress of death admin

Shawn Wood, a solicitor at Watermans Legal

When someone dies it can be a very emotional time and this can make it hard to know what practical things you need to do next. 

When you go to the register office to register a death, you’ll need to take with you the medical certificate showing the cause of death, signed by a doctor.  

It is also very useful to have the person’s birth certificate, national insurance number, NHS number, marriage certificate, driving license and proof of address to hand - which will make the task of completing any forms or documents much easier.

When you have provided the required information, the registrar will give you a certificate for burial or cremation and a certificate of registration of death. You will also receive a death certificate, for which there will be a charge. You may need multiple copies of this to help you manage the administration process.

When someone dies, there are certain organisations you need to inform as soon as possible.

These include HMRC, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA), the UK Passport Agency, not to mention the person’s pension scheme provider, insurance company, bank and building society, employer, mortgage provider, housing association or council housing office.

Don’t forget utility companies, the GP, dentist, optician and anyone else providing medical care and the Bereavement Register, which removes their details from mailing lists and stops most advertising mail.

Hopefully the person who has died will have left a will – this will help guide you through what to do next.

Where there’s a will there’s a way

Making a will can considerably reduce the stress on your loved ones who are making important decisions at a very difficult time.

After all, your will tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions and property after you die. It can also inform your friends and family about your wishes for your funeral and act as a source of comfort to those you are leaving behind.

If you don't leave a will, the law decides how your estate is passed on – and this might not be in line with your wishes.

Additionally, if there aren’t any clear wishes, the executor or nearest relative will usually decide if the body will be cremated or buried and what type of funeral will take place.

The executor of a will is the person is nominated in the will to sort out the deceased's affairs. Once they have been notified, they can then start the process of applying for probate.

The executor uses a Grant of Probate to show they have the right to access funds, sort out finances, and collect and share out the deceased person's assets as set out in the will.

How do I get a will?

Making a will doesn’t need to be difficult. But it is not as simple as just jotting down your wishes on a piece of paper.

A will is a legal document, so it makes sense to involve a professional to help you prepare it.

A solicitor can discuss ways in which you can reduce inheritance tax, offer you advice on how to manage your assets and make sure everything is clearly laid out in the document.

A will is also very important to parents of young children because it will be the document which is used to decide on any legal guardianship for those children in the event of your death.

One of the best times to consider making a will is during Will Aid month.

During November firms like us volunteer our time and expertise to write basic wills or pairs of mirror wills, and instead of charging our usual fees, we’ll invite you to make a voluntary donation to Will Aid - these donations support the vital work of nine of the UK’s best loved charities. .

Find your nearest participating solicitor here or call on 0300 0309 558.

The scheme is very popular so the sooner you contact a participating firm the greater chance you have of finding an appointment near you!