Practical steps following a bereavement

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Health Assured team

14 January 2021

It can be difficult to know what steps should be taken following the loss of a loved one. This article provides guidance, information, and an overview of the practical steps to follow.


1. Registering a death

Registration should be completed within 5 days of an individual passing away. The death can be registered through any local registrar and will create a legal record. You can find a registrar through the UK Gov website.


If there is an ongoing inquest with the coroner, you must wait until the inquiry is completed before registering the death. In the meantime, you should be issued with an interim death certificate which can be used to arrange the funeral.


2. Arranging the funeral

Once you have received a death certificate you can begin preparing for the funeral. When selecting a funeral director, it is advisable to check they are a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors, or The National Society of Allied and Independently funded funeral directors to ensure they operate to a high standard.


Funeral costs are usually covered by the deceased estate if they are reasonable and proportionate. You can contact the deceased bank directly and they will release funds to cover the funeral costs. If you are struggling to cover the funeral expenses, you may be entitled to financial support through a Funeral Expenses Payment if:

  • You receive certain benefits such as universal credit
  • You meet the government guidelines regarding your relationship with the deceased such as being their partner
  • The funeral is in the UK, the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland


3. Informing relevant organisations 

You must inform all government agencies and relevant organisations that the person is deceased. You can use the online ‘Tell us once’ service to inform government agencies including HMRC, DWP, DVLA, the Passport Office, the local council and some public sector pension schemes such as the NHS. The registrar can help you complete this or can provide you with a code to access the service later.


Additionally, you will need to contact any organisations the deceased has a contract, or relationship with including but not limited to their bank, utility providers and employer. You usually need to provide the death certificate for them to close the contract, generate a final bill or pay any monies owed to the estate.


4. Applying for probate

Probate is not always necessary for smaller estates but should be something you consider before distribution of the estate. If probate is required, you will need to value the estate to estimate how much Inheritance tax, if any, will be owed. Inheritance tax is usually payable on estates worth £325,000 or more. However, there are exceptions where the estate is being left solely to a spouse, civil partner, or children. The government have a dedicated helpline offering support with inheritance tax queries on 0300 123 1072.


The application can be made online through the government website or via post using the PA1P form where a will exists or the PA1A where a will does not exist.


5. Distribute the estate

Once you have followed this process and ascertained probate, if needed, you will be able to distribute the estate according to the will or the rules of intestacy.


Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic Of Ireland

If you are living outside England and Wales, the processes will vary within each jurisdiction. For example, the registration requirements are as follows:

  • Scotland: Must be registered within 8 days with the Registration Office.
  • Northern Ireland: Registration within 3 months with any Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths office.
  • Republic of Ireland: To be registered within 5 days with the Civil Registration Office.



If you need to access our services to discuss any wellbeing concerns you may have, our confidential helpline is available 24/7, 365.


Alternatively, if you have access to the My Healthy Advantage app (iOS & Android), you can view a variety of wellbeing resources including our new video series, BrightTV – powered by Health Assured, featuring a variety of well-known personalities sharing their unique experiences with mental health.

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