When someone dies, a life that’s been lived for decades has to be closed out completely. The funeral has to be planned, bank accounts have to be closed, their debts have to be closed, and all their personal legal details have to be managed.

Losing a loved one isn’t easy, and having to deal with all the arrangements is not easy too. There’s a lot of paperwork to be done and you will definitely need the help of others, ranging from professional help from lawyers who can advise you on financial matters, to friends and family who will offer emotional support.

You can either choose to have professional funeral directors such as N E Downing to deal with all the paperwork while you deal with planning the funeral and so forth or you can choose to be the executor, meaning you will deal with settling the estate, and take several months dealing with all the paperwork

To Do Immediately After Someone Dies

What to do when someone dies unexpectedly in your home is different from what happens when they die at the hospital where there are doctors present.

Get a legal pronouncement of death

If your loved one’s death occurs at the hospital or nursing home where doctors are available, the staff will pronounce the death.

After the official declaration is made, only then will you begin the process of getting a death certificate. But, if your loved ones death was sudden and unexpected, you will need to call a medical profession to come to your home and declare the person dead. If your loved one dies unexpectedly at home, you will need to call the 999 UK emergency number and then he/she will be transferred to an emergency room where he/she will be declared dead and moved to the mortuary or funeral home. On the other hand, if your loved one dies under hospice care, the nurse can declare them dead. The police will arrange for the body to be moved from your home by funeral directors acting for the coroner if the death was unexpected. But when it’s expected as confirmed by the doctor, you are allowed to call funeral directors of your choice. If your loved ones don’t get a death declaration from a professional, you can’t go forward with the funeral arrangements or handle the legal affairs of the deceased.

Tell friends and family

Once your loved one has been declared dead by a professional, the next step is to inform your friends and family about the funeral arrangements and so forth. You can choose to either call each one of them, send out a group text or mass email them. For you to know the important people to inform about the death, you should go through the deceased’s phone contacts or email. If they belonged to a certain church, you should inform the pastor, and he will inform the social groups the deceased belonged to at church. Make sure to inform coworkers as well.

Find out about existing funeral and burial plans

If you had the opportunity to talk to your loved ones about the type of funeral they want before the actual event of death, then moving forward with the funeral and burial plans will be easy. But if you never spoke about such things with your deceased loved one, then you should look for a letter of instructions in the deceased belongings or organise a family meeting where you will discuss how the funeral should be. This should be done if the deceased never left instructions on the matter. In the family meeting, you should discuss what type of a funeral the deceased would have loved, what you can afford as a funeral, and how to move forward with the entire funeral proceedings.

Register the death

What documents are needed to register a death?

When someone dies, the doctor who does the official declaration of the death will issue a medical certificate of cause of death. This certificate should then be delivered to the registered office by the person registering the death. When going to register a death, you should take supporting documents that show your name and address, such as your passport, driving licence or utility bill, you should also take the deceased’s documents and address as well. These documents will be used by the registrar to improve the quality of information recorded in the registration. The following the information the registrar will need to know about the deceased in order to record the details in the register:

  • The deceased date and place of death
  • The deceased date and place of birth
  • The registrar will ask about the cause of death
  • The forename(s) and surname of the deceased plus any previous names that the person was or had been known by
  • The maiden name (if the deceased was a lady who had married or formed a legal civil partnership)
  • The occupation or previous occupation
  • The deceased address

It is important to provide the right information to the registrar so that everything is recorded based on facts. After the registration has been completed, you will receive three documents from the registrar :

  • Death certificate: It is issued at the time of registration and costs 11 pounds.
  • Certificate of burial or cremation: You will then be giving this certificate to the funeral director and it allows the funeral to finally take place. But if the death has been reported to the coroner they will issue the certificate instead
  • Certificate for applicable social security benefits

Do you have to register a death before a funeral?

Yes, you must register the death before a funeral can take place. It must be registered in the local authority in which it took place within five days. Register the death according to the rules and regulations of the local area where it took place. After the registration is completed, you can then arrange the funeral.

Within a Few Days of Death

Make funeral, burial or cremation arrangements

During this process, you will need to find out if your loved one had a prepaid burial plan. If they didn’t then you will have to make all the arrangements, choose a funeral home and see where the funeral should take place. You will decide whether a direct cremation is best, where the body or ashes will be interred and what type of tombstone or urn to order. To help you make informed decisions, it’s best to research funeral prices.

If the deceased belonged to a fraternal or religious group, contact the Veterans Administration or the specific organisation to see if they offer burial benefits or conduct funeral services. Have a family and friends meeting so that you can plan how to arrange the funeral.

Speak to a funeral director

Funeral directors provide service any time of day or night to move the deceased to a funeral home. They arrange the details and handle the logistics of funerals, taking into account the wishes of the deceased and family members. With your instructions, a funeral director will establish the location, payment plans, dates, and times of wakes, memorial service and burial.

Secure the property

You need the secure the deceased’s properties, make sure their home and cars are secured. Keep their home alive by having friends water the plants, get the mail and throw away food in the refrigerator. Make sure all the valuable items such as jewellery, cash and all other things are locked away safe as well.

Provide care for pets

If the deceased owned pets, you need to make sure they are taken care of until there’s a permanent owner for them. Have a relative or friend who loves animals to take care of them in the meantime.

Forward mail

You as well need to make sure you go to the post office and put in a forwarding order to send the deceased mail to yourself or whoever is working with you concerning the deceased’s affairs. This will help you know all the deceased legal affairs and help you take care of them the minute you are done with the grieving process. You will also know who else is involved in the deceased affairs and then you will be able to contact them as well if they are not already involved in the funeral proceedings

Notify your family member’s employer

Make sure you find out any paychecks that may be due and find out if there’s any company-wide life insurance policy.

Two Weeks After Death

Secure certified copies of death certificates

You’ll need the deceased’s death certificate when closing a number of accounts such as bank accounts, brokerage accounts and also to file insurance claims. So you need to have several copies of the death certificate, about 10 or 12 will do. The funeral home can get these copies for you, or you can choose to order them from the vital statistics in the state where the person died.

Find the will and the executor

This is another important step because the deceased’s other family members will need to know where the money, properties and other belongings of the deceased will go to. If the deceased spoke to you about the will and where it’s at, that’s better but if they didn’t you will have to look for where they kept all their important documents. You will have to involve the executor who was appointed by the deceased to manage the settling of the will. If the deceased didn’t leave behind a will, then it is the job of the probate court judge to name an administrator in place of an executor. But if the deceased had a lot of properties and other belongings, it’s obvious that they made a will available in the event of their death.

Meet with a trusts and estates attorney

Having an attorney to settle down an estate will make things a lot easier for you, but if an attorney is too expensive for you, you can hire a lawyer instead to help with the distribution of the deceased’s assets.

Contact a CPA

If you find out that the deceased had a CPA, then you should get in contact with them, if there’s none, then it’s your responsibility to hire one. The estate may be required to file a tax return, and a final tax return will need to be filled on the deceased behalf by the CPA.

Take the will to probate

Probate is the legal way of announcing the deceased’s will, this is done at a country or the city probate court office The probate court office is there to make sure all the deceased’s debts and liabilities are taken care of, and that all the remaining assets go to the rightful next owners.

Make an inventory of all assets

The probate process will start with the inventory of all the deceased’s assets such as personal property, bank accounts, house, cars, brokerage account, personal property, furniture, and jewellery, etc. The assets will have to be registered and filed in the court

Track down assets

You will need to track down all the assets that belonged to the deceased. Doing this on your own may take much of your time, so you can choose to hire a search company that will help you in tracking down all the deceased belongings.

Identify and pay important bills

You need to identify and pay all the bills the deceased left behind, these could include expenses like mortgage, taxes, and utility.

Cancel services no longer needed

You need to cancel all the services that are no longer needed since the owner will be no more. These could include very personal services that might still be continuous payments even after your loved one’s death. Track them all down and cancel them with immediate effect.

Notify the following of someone’s death:

– The Social Security Administration

You will need to notify them so that if there’s a family member eligible for the death benefits from social security they are notified.

– Life insurance companies

The life insurance company should be one of the first departments to know about your loved one’s death so that you make claims on the policies the deceased had with them. You will the death certificate to make the claims.

– Banks, financial institutions

You will need the death certificate to close all the online banks and financial institutions the deceased had including those online requiring passwords and personal details.

– Financial advisers, stockbrokers

You need to know the beneficiary left on accounts so that they get access to the account or benefit by simply filling out required documents and providing the death certificate.

– Credit reporting agencies

There’s a lot of identity theft especially when a person dies, to avoid this you will have to send a copy of the death certificate to the three major firms Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Once they know the owner of the bank is deceased they will close them with immediate effect.

Cancel driver’s license

Cancelling the deceased’s driver’s licence will remove their name from the records of the department of motor vehicles hence preventing identity theft.

Close credit card accounts

Close all the credit card accounts of the deceased by contacting the customer service and telling them you’re closing on the deceased’s behalf, they will probably ask you to send the death certificate to them so that they can proceed with the closing processes.

Terminate insurance policies

All insurance policies of the deceased will have to be terminated, so you have to contact the providers and inform them about the death. You should also ask that any unused premium be returned to you.

Delete or memorialize social media accounts

It’s also important for you to delete all the social media accounts which belonged to the deceased, these could be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. but you can as well choose to turn them into a memorial for your loved one. A memorised Facebook account stays up with the word “Remembering” in front of the deceased’s name.

Close email accounts

Closing the deceased email accounts will help prevent identity theft and fraud.

Determine any employment benefits

It’s important you know if there are any employment benefits the deceased had from his workplace. so you will have to go to the company and inform them about the death. They will probably ask you to present the death certificate to them.