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First steps after death

Following a bereavement, there are a number of tasks that need to be considered and completed. This can make an already difficult time even more stressful. 

We appreciate there’s a lot to take on board, so we have created this practical seven step guide to help you understand what needs to be done. To see a more comprehensive overview of what to do when someone dies, please click here to view our brochure. 

1.    Getting a medical certificate
Obtain a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death; you will need this in order to register the death. This will be issued by a doctor and will specify the date, time, and cause of death. Bear in mind that if a coroner is involved, the process will be slightly different.

2.    Registering a death
Registering the death is something that needs to be done before any funeral arrangements can be made. You have five days to register in England and Wales; this increases to eight in Scotland. The death is normally registered by a relative at a register office in the area where the person died. An appointment needs to be made and should normally take less than an hour. You must take the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, any birth and marriage certificates and, if available, a NHS medical card.

3.    When the coroner is involved
If a coroner is involved, they will issue all relevant papers once investigations are complete. It is unwise to book a funeral date while investigations are being carried out.

4.    Dealing with the Will
Find out if the person who died left a valid Will; are there any funeral requests stated within it? If a Will cannot be located, it is recommended that you conduct a Will search.

5.    Locating important papers
Collect and secure important documents. This can be a time-consuming process if the deceased did not keep well organised records. The most crucial documents include the death certificate, Will, marriage and birth certificates (which you should already have). Other useful paperwork needed for later on includes insurance policies, final credit card statements, the last mortgage statement and an up-to-date credit report. These will aid you in finding assets and accounts, assessing outstanding debts and submitting any claims for benefits or cash payments that may be due.

6.    Arranging the funeral
If specific funeral requests are unknown, you will need to decide on either a burial or cremation, the venue, flowers, readings and music. A funeral director can offer you advice and help, as well as a breakdown of costs. The deceased may have left money to pay for the funeral. Otherwise, expenses will be reimbursed to you from the estate later on.

7.    Estate administration
Estate administration is the process of dealing with a person’s legal and tax affairs after they’ve died. All estates need to be administered to some extent. This normally means dealing with all of their assets (such as property and personal possessions) and liabilities (such as outstanding debts) before transferring whatever is left to the beneficiaries. These are just some of the tasks that you may need to consider. Some people decide to administer the estate by themselves but this can take a significant amount of time and effort, especially if you’ve never had to go through the process before.

Kings Court Trust can carry out the full estate administration process, from beginning to end. For a fixed price quote in just a few minutes and information to help you understand your options, call us on 0300 303 9000 or visit kctrust.co.uk for more information.