In Times Of Bereavement – Practicalities and Support

If a relative, loved one, or friend has just passed away, you will be feeling a great sense of loss. However, you may need to deal with a number of practical matters. We have put together some information to help you at this difficult time. (Support information which may be helpful now, or in the months to come, is listed at the bottom of this page along with some information to help if you are currently anticipating an oncoming bereavement.)

In the first few days following a bereavement you will need to:

  • Obtain a death certificate from your GP or hospital doctor (this is necessary to register the death)
  • Register the death within 5 days. You will then receive the necessary documents for the funeral.
  • Make the necessary funeral arrangements.

Register the Death

If the death has been reported to the coroner, they must give permission before registering the death.

You can register the death if you are a relative, a witness to the death, a hospital administrator or the person making the arrangements with the funeral directors.

You can use the ‘Register a Death’ page on the gov.uk website that will guide you through the process.

Arrange the Funeral

The funeral can usually only take place after the death is registered. Most people use a funeral director, though you can arrange a funeral yourself.

Funeral Directors

Choose a funeral director who’s a member of one of the following:

These organisations have codes of practice – they must give you a price list when asked.

Some local councils run their own funeral services, for example for non-religious burials. The British Humanist Association can also help with non-religious funerals.

Arranging the Funeral Yourself

Contact the Cemeteries and Crematorium Department of your local council to arrange a funeral yourself.

Funeral Costs

Funeral costs can include:

  • funeral director fees
  • things the funeral director pays for on your behalf (called ‘disbursements’ or ‘third-party costs’), for example, crematorium or cemetery fees, or a newspaper announcement about the death
  • local authority burial or cremation fees

Funeral directors may list all these costs in their quotes.

Fareham Borough Council

Fareham Borough Council offers advice on their website www.fareham.gov.uk (or by phoning 01329 236100) which includes what to do in specific circumstances such as what to do when someone dies in hospital, at home, abroad and whether the death was expected or unexpected.

Tell Us Once

The UK Government has a helpful system called “Tell Us Once” which enables you to report a death to most government organisations in one go. When you register the death the registrar will:

  • let you know if the service is available in your area
  • give you the phone number
  • give you a unique reference number to use the Tell Us Once service online or by phone

After you register the death, you must use the service within 28 days.

Before you use Tell Us Once you will need the following details of the person who died:

  • Date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • Driving licence number
  • Vehicle registration number
  • Passport number

You’ll also need:

  • Details of any benefits or entitlements they were getting, for example State Pension
  • Details of any local council services they were getting, for example Blue Badge
  • The name and address of their next of kin
  • The name and address of any surviving spouse or civil partner
  • The name, address and contact details of the person or company dealing with their estate (property, belongings and money), known as their ‘executor’ or ‘administrator’
  • Details of any public sector or armed forces pension schemes they were getting or paying in to
  • You need permission from the next of kin, the executor, the administrator or anyone who was claiming joint benefits or entitlements with the person who died, before you give their details.

Organisations Tell Us Once will notify:

  • HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) – to deal with personal tax (you need to contact HMRC separately for business taxes, like VAT)
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) – to cancel benefits, for example Income Support
  • Passport Office – to cancel a British passport
  • Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) – to cancel a licence and remove the person as the keeper of up to 5 vehicles (contact DVLA separately if you keep or sell a vehicle)
  • The local council – to cancel Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction (sometimes called Council Tax Support), a Blue Badge, inform council housing services and remove the person from the electoral register
  • Veterans UK – to cancel Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will contact you about the tax, benefits and entitlements of the person who died.

Tell Us Once will also contact some public sector pension schemes so that they cancel future pension payments. They’ll notify:

  • My Civil Service Pension
  • NHS Pension Scheme
  • Armed Forces Pension Scheme
  • Pension schemes for NHS staff, teachers, police and firefighters in Scotland
  • Local authority pension schemes, except where Tell Us Once is not available

There’s a different process to update property records if the person who died owns land or property.

Checklist:

  • Step 1: Register the death
  • Step 2: Arrange the funeral
  • Step 3: Tell government about the death
  • Step 4: Check if you can get bereavement benefits and deal with your own benefits, pension and taxes; check if you need to apply to stay in the UK
  • Step 5: Deal with their estate

Support for family, friends and carers

Bereavement is a natural response following the death of a person you have loved or cared for. The death of a friend or relative can be devastating and, at times, seem unbearable. It can sometimes be helpful to access one to one support, to talk to someone who is independent and trained to listen and support you through your grief. Some people find it helpful to be with others who have experienced a similar loss.

The following organisations may be able to help you:

Support if you are anticipating a death

There are times when two people, or families, grieve for an oncoming death together, and it is during these times that you may be striving to not only come to terms with what is to come, but also to think about and make plans for the future.

There are many illness specific organisations that are able to help with life ending conditions. A useful website which lists these organisations and offers other helpful and wide-ranging advice is: www.dyingmatters.org