Coping with bereavement

WHEN someone dies, certain people and organisations need to be told and certain documents completed.

Some of these things can be done by a close relative or friend; others need to be done by the executor or administrator of the estate.

There is also support available to help everyone through such a difficult time.

You cannot be expected to do everything right away, but in the first five days it’s important to notify the family doctor; register the death; contact a funeral director to begin funeral arrangements (you’ll need to check the will for any special requests - the person who has died’s solicitor may have a copy if you can’t find one).

If the person who has died was receiving any benefits or tax credits advise the offices that were making the payments.

As early as possible you should contact the executor if this isn’t you (usually nominated in the will to sort out the deceased’s affairs) - to enable them to start the process of obtaining probate.

If there is no will, decide who will apply to sort out the deceased’s affairs.

As well as informing people who are close to the deceased, in many cases you’ll need to close down accounts, or cancel or change insurance details, subscriptions, agreements, payments or direct debits.

The personal representative looking after the deceased’s affairs will also need to check the value of any insurance or pension funds, savings accounts and similar and arrange payment of insurance/pension benefits and any outstanding tax or debts before distributing the remaining estate to beneficiaries.

You will also need to contact relatives and friends, employer, school, solicitor/accountant, the deceased’s Tax Office, National Insurance Contributions Office if they were self-employed (to cancel payments), Child Benefit Office (at latest within eight weeks), landlord or local authority if the deceased rented, local authority if the deceased paid council tax, had a parking permit, and/or received social services help, attended day care or similar, any private organisation/agency providing home help, general insurance companies - contents, car, travel, medical etc.

Also contact pension providers/life insurance companies, bank/building society, mortgage provider, hire purchase or loan companies, credit card providers/store cards, utility companies if accounts were in the deceased’s name, TV/Internet companies with which the deceased had subscriptions, any other company with which the deceased may have had rental, hire purchase or loan agreements and Royal Mail, if mail needs re-directing. Everyone deals with bereavement in their own way.

If you or someone you know needs counselling or support, ask your family doctor or contact a relevant organisation.

Your local authority may provide support and advice about the arrangements that need to be made after a bereavement, such as registering the death and obtaining a death certificate.

Cruse Bereavement Care’s aim is to promote the well-being of bereaved people and provides counselling and support. The organisation also offers information, advice, education and training services.

A funeral can be either by burial or by cremation.