What to do when a loved one dies

Probate - 3 minutes read

The time following the death of somebody close to you can often be very difficult. We specialise in bereavement matters and have helped thousands of people through similar times.

Here’s our checklist to guide you through those very first moments…

Take a breath

And then take a quiet moment to say your final goodbyes: there is no need to panic or rush anything.

First step…

If your loved one died in hospital, their body will be removed to the hospital mortuary. If they died at home, you should call their GP to certify the death. This can be done the following morning if the death happened at night. If they died in a hospice or a care home, the health professionals who were looking after them can arrange for their body to be taken to the mortuary or funeral home.

If this is not being arranged by a care professional, then contact a funeral director to take your loved one into their care.

Home insurance

Call your loved one’s home insurance provider to notify them of the death and take note of when you made the call. This is essential to keep the insurance valid.

Medical certificate

You can pick up the medical certificate and the ‘green form’ from the GP or hospital staff. The doctor will also send an electronic copy of the Medical Certificate to the local Registrar of Deaths.

Register the death

You should register your loved ones death within 5 days. You can find your local register office on GOV.UK. The registrar will ask for all necessary information and send a copy to you to review and approve. A copy of the Certificate of Registration of Death will then be sent to you and/or the funeral director, and the Death Certificate will be posted to you.

Locate your loved ones Will

If you know the solicitor who is holding your loved one’s Will, get in touch with them so they can let you know how it can be safely released to those entitled to see it. Do check the Will to see if your loved one gave any specific instructions regarding their funeral.

Funeral arrangements

Once the death is registered, you can contact the funeral director who can start making arrangements for the funeral. You should also check if there is a pre-paid funeral plan in place.

Secure their home

Do what you can to secure their home: if you are able to go there to lock the property, do so, or if there is a neighbour who you trust to do this, ask them. If you can access them, ensure bank cards and valuables are kept in a safe place.

Gather any paperwork

There’s certainly no rush but if you can, now may be a good time to collect your loved ones’ paperwork and start to gather together any important information you may need to sort out their legal affairs.

We’re here to guide you through the next steps. To speak with someone in our specialist later life and bereavement team, please call 01865 594265 or get in touch here.

Our expert death wills and probate solicitors based in Oxford, Wallingford, and Cotswolds can provide advice and support for all or any part of the process of administering the estate.