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Bereavement support

We’re very sorry for your loss and want to support you in making the next steps as easy as possible for you. The first few hours can feel overwhelming, and you may want to try to complete some practical tasks. Whenever the time is right for you, we’ve broken the first actions down into six manageable steps.

Step 1: Dealing with the first few days

Knowing where to start, what to do, and who to talk to may be the hardest step for you to take. While you are waiting for formal paperwork from the doctor, coroner or hospital, there are a few things you can do – if you want to.

You can find, or may already know where to find, documents such as a specific funeral requests, or organ donation. If so, it’s important to have them to hand as these wishes need to be identified very soon after the death. There are other documents to have ready that are listed in Step 2.

You may want to notify other family members or friends who may be able to come and support you if you feel up to making calls. It’s an individual experience so do what feels right for you. If you are feeling more practical, you can activate the Mail Suppression Service. This will help to reduce unwanted junk mail and marketing literature in the name of the person who has died. You can call the Bereavement Advice Organisation on 0800 634 9494 for more help with this.

Step 2: Registering the death

Read the guidance on the Government website by clicking Gov.UK. There are simple questions to answer that will guide you to the correct process based on the answers you give. There are also links to more support in applying for probate and finding your local registry office.

You may be asked to provide documents such as:

  • NHS card (also called the medical card).
  • Birth certificate.
  • Driving licence.
  • Council tax bill.
  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate (if applicable).
  • If possible, it’s helpful to take the National Insurance number of the deceased and the number of a surviving spouse or civil partner.
  • Passport.
  • Proof of address (e.g., utility or council tax bill).

If you do not have these, or are unable to find them, Gov.UK has links to order new copies of them.

When you see the registrar, they will ask for the following information:

  • Date and place of the death.
  • The address of the person.
  • Their full names (including the birth name of a married person). Any former married names or other names by which the deceased was known can also be recorded.
  • Where and when they were born (the town or county is sufficient if the exact address is not known). Only the country of origin is required for people born outside the United Kingdom. The country is recorded according to its current name if this is different from how it was known at the date of birth.
  • Their occupation.
  • Details of their spouse or civil partner.
  • Whether they had a Government pension or other benefits.

In return, they will give you:

  • a Death Certificate, these are usually a light green colour.
  • Certificate for Cremation or Burial, this allows the funeral director to officially carry out the funeral arrangements and is sometimes called the Green Form.
  • BD8 Registration of Notification of Death. You might be able to use the ‘Tell Us Once’ service if it is available in your area. There is more information on this in Step 4 and the Registrar will be able to confirm this for you.

Step 3: Making the funeral arrangements

You may already know which funeral directors you wish to use, or there may be instructions in a Letter of Wishes or a Will that your loved one has left. This may be comforting, but it may be daunting if cost is a worry. You may be eligible for help from the Government with the funeral costs. See if you can make a claim.

When you give the Green Form to the funeral director, you have entered into a contract for payment with them, so be certain that you have asked all the questions you want to and that you are confident they are the right choice for you before giving them the Green Form.

Step 4: Notifying utilities/banks/companies

The Government has a free service called ‘Tell Us Once’. To use this, they will ask you to complete a single online form. From there, they will notify all Government services such as HMRC, the Department for Work and Pensions, the Passport Office, the Driving Licensing Agency and your local council. Access the form.

Other companies to consider will include TV/broadband and mobile phone providers, utilities, ongoing subscriptions or memberships, insurance providers and banks. It’s helpful to write these down and mark them off as you go.

Step 5: Managing the estate

Probate is the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (their estate) when they die. Probate may not always be needed as this will depend on whether there is a Will or not and if any land, property, shares or money was owned. There is information here, Applying for probate, that will help you to determine whether it is needed.

Step 6: Looking after yourself

Finally, it’s incredibly important to look after yourself as well. While you may be running on autopilot, you may become physically and emotionally exhausted. Lean on friends and family for support, talk, share stories when you are ready and if you could do with some extra support, you can reach out to an organisation such as:

Bereavement Advice Centre

Contact on 0800 634 9494

Cruse Bereavement

Contact on 0808 808 1677

They will offer you professional support and advice when you need it the most.

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