What to do after a death: The next steps

There is a certain set of steps that need to be followed the first few days after a person’s death.

1. Medical certificate: You will need to get a medical certificate signed by a doctor showing the cause of death.
2. Registering the death: Registration of death has to take place within 5 days of the person’s death. In Scotland, you can register a death within 8 days.

Registering the death is the formal record of the death and it provides two essential documents: the Certificate for Burial or Cremation and the Certificate of Registration of Death.

3. Arranging the funeral: A funeral can be arranged only after the death has been registered.
You can either arrange the funeral by yourself or use a funeral director.

4. Notifying government & private organizations and services: When a person dies, all kinds of government and private organizations need to be contacted, in order to sort out the person’s personal affairs.

The Tells Us Once service reports, on your behalf, a person’s death to most government organizations.
In order to access the Tell Us Once service online or by phone, you will need a unique reference number by your local registrar.

The service is not available in Northern Ireland, or if the person died abroad.
These are the government organizations that the service will notify:
• HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
• Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)
• Passport Office
• Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)
• The local council
If you choose not to use the Tells Us Once service, you will need to report the person’s death to:
• HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
• National Insurance (NI) Contributions Office / if applicable
• Child Benefit Office / if applicable
• Tax Credit Office / if applicable

If the person who died owns land or property, the process to update property records is different and it mostly depends on whether they were the joint or sole owner of a property.
In terms of banks and other financial organizations, a person’s bank (or banks) must be notified, as well as possible insurance, pension and/or mortgage providers.

5. Probate / ‘Grant of representation’

A person’s ‘estate’ is their money, property and personal belongings.
In order to be able to legally handle the deceased’s ‘estate’, you will need to file for a probate.
This is usually not deemed necessary if:
• The ‘estate’ passes to the surviving spouse or civil partner
• The ‘estate’ doesn’t include land, property or shares

6. What to do if a child/baby dies

If a child or baby dies, you will need to register the death the normal way.
However, depending on the circumstances, you may need to notify other organizations of the death, such as:
• Child Benefit Office
• Tax Credit Office

You will also need to check if you are still eligible for a Sure Start Maternity Grant, as well as a Maternity and paternity leave and pay, depending on the circumstances of the death.

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