Who needs to know?
At first your mind may be spinning when thinking about the number of people who need to be informed. Making lists – you’ll find contacts can be easily placed in groups such as the ones we have used below – and using other people to do some of the work will help you feel more in control.
Some booklets or websites have lists of who needs to be told about the death. However they rarely include everyone and often don’t have space for you to also record the date of when letters and forms were posted or when you spoke to someone and who you spoke to. A new A4 or A5 notebook is a good idea for when you are out and about even if you use a computer to record most things.
To help you, we have provided the following two forms that you can use to keep a track of who you have contacted, when it comes to both money and none money matters.
Please click on the question below you are interested in to find the support you need.
You will probably want to tell closest family members and friends yourself. They will then be able to help by spreading the news to more distant members of the family. Unless contact with relatives who live far away is critical to the planning of the funeral, you may even chose to delay telling relatives who you do not have regular contact with until you have a date for the funeral. This means just one call instead of two.
Even if you live at a distance yourself, you will hopefully know of the closest friends of the person who died. If someone was in residential care of some kind, their warden and carers will probably know. The address book of the person who died will be invaluable in helping you get in touch with friends of the person who died. A death notice in a local paper with detail of the funeral will also help inform local acquaintances who may not appear in the address book. A number of these people, especially if they are part of a social network or club e.g. the golf club or also attend a day centre, will probably volunteer to let their network of folk know about what has happened.
When Tell Us Once (TUO) is available: Tell Us Once is a service set up by government to reduce the number of times you have to tell government departments both central government such as the Department for Work and Pensions and local council services such as the Council Tax office and the library.
This service is provided by local councils and usually offered at the same time as you register the death. Councils do not have to offer the service and so it is not available everywhere. If you cannot register the death because there is to be an inquest or the death took place overseas you will not be able to use this service.
If available the TUO service is offered in one of two ways.
- You may be offered an enhanced service in which case the whole process is completed in one step. The registrar or other member of the council staff will go through a list of services and if the person who died used those services, e.g. they had a passport or a driving licence, a notification of the death will be sent in a secure electronic format to that organisation. As well as information about the person who has died, your name and contact information will be collected so that if the organisation needs to write to about any follow-up action after the death, they will be able to do so. TUO is only used if you give your signed agreement. You will be given a list of all the organisations which have been informed.
- The second way TUO may be offered is as a 2-step service. A record of the death is created on the TUO secure electronic system. You will be given a unique reference number. You then have a choice of phoning a central TUO call centre to tell them which services the person who died had used or you can do this online via gov.uk. You cannot use either the phone or web system unless you have a reference number from the registrar.
If TUO is not available in your area or you cannot use it because there is to be an inquest, you will have to check through the papers of the person who died and inform all the individual organisations yourself. However, if you inform the Department for Work and Pensions Bereavement Service on:
- Phone – 0345 606 0265
- Textphone – 0345 606 0285
- Phone – 0345 606 0275 (for Welsh speakers)
- Textphone – 0345 606 0295 (for Welsh speakers)
They will inform all the different parts of the DWP. You will also be able to find out if you are entitled to any bereavement related benefits in the same call.
You may also have been given a form when (if) you registered the death called a Registration or Notice of Death form commonly referred to as the BD8. If you are not given an addressed envelope with the form you can hand it in at your local Jobcentre Plus. Complete the reverse of the form before sending it off.
If someone has died in hospital, the hospital should inform their own doctor (GP) about the death within 24-48 hours except at weekends and bank holidays. They should also ensure that any existing appointments with that hospital are also cancelled. However they will not be aware of other appointments at other hospitals.
Other health related services you might need to contact are:
- Podiatrist (Chiropodist)
- Other hospitals if there is on-going treatment/appointments
Where there is a local branch of a bank you may choose to do this in person. Many organisations also have online forms which you can use for a death notification. Until you do this with a certified copy of the death certificate or a certificate of fact of death from the coroner, most banks will not inform the nearest relative or executor of how much is held in accounts.
You usually need to prove your own identity to banks and similar organisations, preferably with photo identification if possible such as a passport or driving licence. If you don’t have these, ask what alternatives they will accept. If you are an executor take the Will with you to the bank or if there is no Will, take a birth certificate or marriage/civil partnership certificate with you to prove your relationship to the person who died.
The most important thing to find out with life insurance policies is whether the policy has a named beneficiary. This means that the policy names a specific person to receive the money when the person whose life is insured has died. You also do need to check that the circumstances of the death are not excluded from the policy e.g. some policies might exclude a death while someone was taking part in an ‘extreme’ sport which might include an ordinary skiing holiday. It is probable that your first contact with the company will be by telephone and they will follow up with forms or a letter. However they should be able to answer the named beneficiary question very quickly. Some companies have online claim forms.
If there is a named beneficiary the money can be paid directly to the person named to receive it and the policy is not included within the estate of the deceased person. Therefore even if probate is needed for the rest of the estate you do not need to include the life insurance amount within the calculations. However, if there is no named beneficiary, the insurance money is owed to the estate and you may be asked to obtain probate before payment is made. It then needs to be included for liability for inheritance tax calculations.
This is very similar to the banks although in most cases your contact with the companies will be telephone and letter.
Contact the house insurance provider (buildings and contents) as soon as possible. They will advise you whether you can extend the existing policy now the policy holder has died or whether you need a new policy. If it seems the estate will need probate this should be taken out by ‘the executor of the estate of the late ……). The insurance company will want to be reassured that any valuables are in a safe place. They may have additional requirements if the property is to be left empty such as setting heating at frost prevention settings and turning off water at the main stopcock.
You should contact the car insurance company as it is likely that the cover will expire with the death of the policy holder. We will soon be adding much more information on your choices for what to do with the car of someone who has died but there is helpful information on www.gov.uk and put DVLA into the internal search box.
Usually there will be letters from the employer or pension provider which will give you the necessary contact details. Larger employers will have a human resources department who can guide you through any necessary paperwork and they will be able to tell you if there is a death in service benefit due. This is subject to the same conditions regarding a named beneficiary as life insurance policies as described above.
It is important to take control of post to the person who has died, especially if no-one will be living at that address and the property will be empty or if the property was rented and will be lived in by someone else. Items coming in the post can make you aware of assets and liabilities that you didn’t know about.
Post lying unattended on the floor can tell people that the property is vulnerable and may be entered by burglars or squatters.
Mail is also one of the ways in which fraudsters steal people’s identity. This is both very upsetting and can cause significant complications in dealing with the estate.
Mail from personal contacts and associated with personal affairs such as bank accounts and credit cards and subscriptions
Arrange mail redirection through Royal Mail. Unlike when you move house this cannot be arranged on-line although you can download the form you need called a Special Circumstances Application Form. You can arrange this service by visiting a Post Office or by posting the form following the instructions included within it. There is a charge for this service. Use the link to find the phone numbers you can call for further help.
Direct mail which is more commonly called ‘junk mail’. This can be from companies advertising their services and from charities requesting donations.
Advertising mail in particular can be very cleverly targeted to individuals. Unless you do something it can continue for months or even longer after someone has died. Bereavement Support works with partners to provide MAIL SUPPRESSION. Click here to use this service which is completely free of charge. We can’t get rid of things that come from overseas but we can help make sure an awful lot of stuff stops coming through the door.