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What to do when a loved one dies

Published on 16 December 2019 | Modified on 14 December 2022

Written by Stacey Bennett

Death is not an easy thing to discuss, and so people seldom know what to do when it happens to someone close. Below is a guide to what steps should be taken if a loved one passes away.


The first thing to do is register the death. You may be given a form by the Doctor or Hospital to take to the Registrar. You should call ahead to arrange an appointment.   When the death is registered, you will then be offered a death certificate.  It is sensible to get a number of copies (there will be a small charge for these – currently £11.00 per copy) as most financial institutions will need to see one.


Once the death is registered, it is time to arrange the funeral.  There are usually many local Funeral Directors you could use. As with anything, it may be that you follow a recommendation, or use one that you are already familiar with.

It may be that there are wishes for their burial or cremation in their Will, or even clear instructions as to the specifics of their funeral arrangements.  It is also very important that you carefully check whether there is a pre-paid funeral plan in place, as you do not want to be having to pay for the funeral twice over.

If you are anxious about how to pay for the funeral, whilst Banks and Building Societies will freeze accounts once they are told that the account holder has died, they will still allow funds to be released for settling a funeral account.


Following on from the initial action taken in relation to your lost loved one, the next thing to focus on is the administration of their financial affairs.

Is there a Will?

The first thing to check is whether or not that person made a Will. If so, it is important to see who the executors are, as they are the people who are responsible for this task. If you are not the executor, be careful not to get too involved with the administration. This can be particularly tempting during the early stages, and it might be that you are just trying to be helpful, but it may be that you find yourself in hot water with the named executors, or be accused of ‘intermeddling’.

If there is not a Will, it may not be immediately obvious who should deal with the estate. In this case, they are known as administrators. If you are unsure, always take professional advice from a solicitor. If a family tree check is required, we work with genealogists who can trace back long lost family members when necessary.

What needs to be done?

The actual administration will often involve a considerable amount of paperwork.

Firstly reviewing the full financial situation of the deceased to establish whether a Grant of Probate is needed. Secondly, completing the necessary Inheritance Tax forms and paying any tax due in time. Thirdly is making sure any debts owed by the deceased are identified and paid. Then there are the other forms and applications which are required to cash in bank accounts, sell or transfer property, to set up any trusts set out in the Will, and, finally to distribute the assets to the right people.

These can be very daunting tasks. Many people therefore choose to appoint their Solicitors to act as Executors to administer their estates.  Those who have appointed Poole Alcock as their Executors can be safe in the knowledge that expert and friendly advice will be on hand.  Where friends or family are appointed, they can hand over the responsibility for the administration to us and we can assist them in shouldering that burden.

What to do next

If you are sadly faced with having to deal with the administration of someone’s estate please do contact us.  We would be very happy to speak to you completely free of charge to discuss how we may be able to assist you. Call us on 01270 613939 .

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