First steps

What you need to do

When someone passes away, there are decisions to be made that can feel overwhelming – let us guide you through those first steps.

1. Register the death

Where possible, do this at the register office in the area where the person died. Doing this means you’ll usually get the death certificate quicker.

A death needs to be registered within five days in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and within eight days in Scotland.

The government website has useful information on how to find a registry office and which documents you’ll need to take.

The registrar will give you the certified copy of the death certificate. Buying extra copies of it might be useful as most organisations you’ll need to notify will need to see it before settling any affairs.

2. Find out if there’s a will

If there’s a will, it will name one or more people as personal representatives (also known as ‘executors’) who will be responsible for carrying out the deceased’s wishes.

If there isn’t a will, this is known as ‘intestacy’. In this case, the next of kin usually becomes the administrator of any possessions, money or property they leave behind, often referred to as ‘the estate’.

If we’ve been appointed as an executor by the person who has died, please let us know as soon as possible, by calling our bereavement team on 0800 068 22381.

3. Arrange the funeral

In some cases, the government can help with funeral costs – you can check to see if you’re eligible.

If you’d like, and there’s enough money in the deceased’s accounts, we can send a payment to the funeral director to cover the funeral cost.

4. Contact other organisations

You might need to tell other organisations about the person’s death, such as building societies, utility companies and the Department for Work and Pensions. The government’s Tell us once service informs most of its departments for you when you complete a single online form.

For TV, phone and broadband subscriptions, you’ll need to contact the provider to see if you can cancel any outstanding payments, or to transfer the contract to your name.

5. Manage the estate

Probate is a term used when applying for the right to distribute the assets of a deceased person’s estate.

If there’s a will, you might need to apply for a Grant of Probate, which is a legal document giving you the authority to deal with a deceased person’s affairs.

If there isn’t a will, the legal document is called Letters of Administration.

In Scotland, in either case, the document is called a Certificate of Confirmation.

We’ll let you know if we need any of these documents.

Watch out for bereavement scams

Sadly, scammers target bereaved families in many different ways.

The ‘long-lost relative’ scam

A scammer might use a death as an opportunity to ‘reconnect’ with a bereaved family, claiming to be owed money. 

Never rush to make a payment, always check that anyone asking for money is genuine. 

Obituary scams

Scammers use information posted in obituaries to target bereaved families. Always think carefully about how you make an announcement about the death of a loved one. Information like date of birth, mother’s maiden name, middle names and street addresses can all help a scammer to target you. 

Insurance bereavement scams

Scammers have been posing as insurance agents who say you’re entitled to a large sum of money, but that you need to pay a premium to access the cash.

If this happens, don’t be pressured into making a payment then and there – no real insurance company will insist you do this. If you’re on the phone, end the call. Find a number for the company from a reliable source – not the one you got with the correspondence you received. Call them and ask whether the large sum of money really exists.

Someone genuine will never mind you checking to make sure they’re not a scammer.

The next steps

Letting us know

What we’ll do next

Once you’ve notified us, we’ll make the process of closing the accounts as smooth as possible.

Financial and emotional support

Life after loss

We’ll give you practical help to get you through the first weeks and months following a bereavement, and tell you about free services that can help you cope with your loss.