The death of a loved one is a devastating and emotional event in life, which is often made more difficult by the administrative tasks that must be done immediately after their passing. To help you through this, we have compiled a simple guide explaining the different stages in the estate administration process:
Obtaining a Medical Certificate
The first step following the death of a loved one is to obtain a medical certificate that explains the cause of death. If the person died in hospital then the hospital will be able to provide this for you. If the person died at home then you should contact the deceased’s GP who will then be able to provide the medical certificate. Obtaining the medical certificate does not cost you anything, but it is important that the relevant medical professionals are contacted as soon as possible after death to produce the medical certificate. The medical certificate can then be sent on directly to the relevant registry office before completing step 2 below.
Registering the Death
The next step is to register the death with the local registry office for where the death occurred. This should be done within five days of the date of death. If you are not sure which registry office you should register the death with, you can use the gov.uk “Find a register office” page at www.gov.uk/register-offices.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic you should be able to make a phone appointment with the relevant registry office to register the death. Before your appointment, make sure that the relevant registry office have received the medical certificate and that you have the following information to hand:
- The deceased’s full name including any previous names (e.g. maiden name)
- Their date of death and place of death
- Their date of birth and place of birth
- Their usual address
- Their occupation
- The full name, date of birth and occupation of their surviving/late spouse or civil partner (if applicable)
- Their National Insurance number
If you have an appointment to register the death in person, then in addition to the above information it will be easier to register the death if you have access to the deceased’s:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage or civil partnership certificate (if applicable)
- Driving licence
- NHS medical card
- Proof of address e.g. a utility bill
Arranging the funeral
Once the death has been registered, you will need to make the funeral arrangements with your chosen funeral director. If the deceased left a Will which details the funeral arrangements they wanted, for example if they wished to be cremated, then you will need to ensure that those wishes are upheld. Otherwise, you will need to consider the type of funeral, coffin and the travel arrangements you wish to make. There may be other details as well that you would like to include, such as flowers and arrangements for a wake.
Administering the Estate
The final, and by far the most complex step in the Estate Administration process is to deal with the estate. If the deceased left behind a Will, the appointed Executor(s) will be responsible for dealing with the estate and ultimately distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will. If the deceased passed away without leaving a Will, then a relative can be appointed as an administrator who will then be responsible for dealing with the estate, which will be distributed under the rules of intestacy.
Administering the estate involves notifying any government authorities, financial institutions, utility companies and any other creditors and debtors that may either owe money to the estate or are owed money from the estate. The estate administration process can be incredibly complex depending on the circumstances, so it is advisable to instruct a solicitor to help you through the process.
If you would like to enquire about instructing a solicitor to help you with the administration of a loved one’s estate, please give our Wills, Trusts and Probate Team a call on 01603 610911 or email email@example.com.
Note: the content of this article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken in any specific circumstance.