Death is an extremely challenging time and sometimes knowing where to start and what to do from a legal perspective can be confusing and overwhelming. Follow our straightforward guide to help you understand what steps need to be taken first.
- Register the death
The first step is to register the death with the deceased local registry office within 5 days of the death. You will need a medical certificate to do this, provided by a doctor.
Once registered, you will receive a death certificate. It’s a good idea to get a couple of copies as various institutions, such as banks and pension providers may also require one.
- House insurance
The next key step is to notify the deceased house insurance provider and check if there are any specific conditions stipulated to keep the policy valid e.g., that a vacant property must be visited once a month. This step is often overlooked but could lead to invalidating the insurance if a claim is made at a later date.
- Locating the original will
If you don’t already have the Will, it may be at the deceased’s home or stored with the law firm who drafted it. It is also possible that the deceased’s bank may hold it. If you find or hold a copy of a Will you must locate the original. It is important to ensure that you have also located the last Will. If you are not able to locate a Will it may be worth contacting other local law firms to see if they hold one. You can also try the National Will Register or the Law Society to see if they have any record of the Will.
- Arrange the funeral
If the deceased has a Will, it is important to check this to see if there are any specific funeral wishes (please note that these wishes are not actually legally binding). The funeral can only take place after the death is registered. The Executors or family members (if these are not the same people) will usually be responsible for arranging the funeral. The cost of the funeral is payable from the estate. If you do pay for any expenses yourself, it is important to make sure that you keep a record of these so that you can be reimbursed from the estate later.
- Notify organisations of the death
Finally, it is important to notify the government bodies of the death. There is a government service called Tell Us Once which will notify all government bodies of the death without needing to make numerous phone calls. You will also need to contact the deceased banks, utility providers, mortgage company/proprietor, pension providers, share registrars and any other institution providing a service to the deceased.
The Private Client legal team at Lewis Denley are extremely experienced and are on hand to help you every step of the way. Their aim is to make the process as easy and transparent as possible to support you and your family during this time. If you would like our assistance, please get in touch with a member of our team who would be happy to help.