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What to do when someone dies

Losing a loved one is never easy, and leaves so many arrangements to make that knowing where to begin can be overwhelming. Whilst we know it will be a difficult time, the following guide should help you prioritise the steps you need to take. Our experienced solicitors are more than happy to assist with individual steps, or can handle the entire process from start to finish should you prefer. If you would like to discuss any of this in more detail then please feel free to contact our offices and we would be glad to help.

1) Obtain a Medical Certificate

You will first need a Medical Certificate, signed by a Doctor, listing the cause of death. If your loved one passed away in a hospital, the staff there will take care of this for you. If the death occurred at home, you will need to contact the family doctor at the local GP surgery.

If the death was unexpected, then it may need referring to a coroner for them to investigate further. This could potentially lead to the coroner calling for a post-mortem, or inquest in order to find out the cause of death, which may cause a delay in obtaining the certificate. If you have any concerns about this, please do not hesitate to contact us.

2) Locate the Will

The most important document to locate will be your loved one’s Will. If a Will was written then it must be found. If you are unsure about where the Will may be, try contacting their Solicitor or Bank, as it is common for Wills to be stored with them. If you cannot find the Will, you can always conduct a search of the National Wills Registry with Certainty

The Will should list the Executors who will be responsible for administering the estate.

If no Will was prepared, then the person is said to have passed away ‘intestate’ and the Law will determine who is responsible for administrating the estate, as well as how any assets and monies are divided. We would be more than happy to advise you on this if required.

3) Register the Death

You will need to register the death within five days, at the Register Office closest to where your loved one passed away. When you attend the office, you will need to take the medical certificate and, if possible, any identification documents for the person that you have access to; such as a passport, driving licence, birth certificate, etc.

The Registrar will then provide you with a Death Certificate (we would advise that you also purchase one or two extra copies just in case, as most of the organisations you will be dealing with going forward will not accept photocopies), along with a Burial/Cremation slip known as a ‘Green Form’. You can use this slip to begin arranging the funeral, as it will be required by the Funeral Director.

If it is available in your area, the Registrar will also speak to you about the Government’s ‘Tell Us Once’ service, which will notify all the various Government services of the death. 

4) Arrange the Funeral

With the Green Form supplied by the Registrar, you can now organise the Funeral. Make sure to check the Will, as it may contain wishes for the funeral, along with details of any potential pre-paid funeral plans.

Funeral Directors are regulated, and will supply you a breakdown of their costs upon request. The Local Council may also offer their own funeral service should you prefer.

5) Collect any other Paperwork you can find

One you have located the Will, try and find as many other pieces of paperwork you can find. There will be many different organisations to notify of the death, all of which will have various account names and references attached to them, so the more documentation you have available the easier this will be. Try to locate as much paperwork as you can, relating to things such as:

  • Social services, particularly if they had nursing care or home help
  • Local council for council tax and any parking permits for street or disabled parking. It may also be worth registering on the Bereavement Register so you will not receive any junk mail.
  • DVLA to return their license and register a change of ownership on the vehicle
  • Insurance companies, for both life insurance as well as house & contents insurance
  • Bank and Mortgage provider(s)
  • Utility companies; electricity, gas, water, telephone & internet
  • Royal Mail if a redirect is necessary
  • All loans, credit card and store card companies
  • TV licensing
  • Membership of clubs and associations
  • UK Passport Agency
  • Pension providers


6) Begin Administering the Estate

Once you have collected all the documents together, the executors can begin to administer the estate as per the directions laid out in the Will. This will involve notifying all the various agencies of the death, dealing with all your loved one’s assets, and distributing any monies to the beneficiaries of the Will. The first stage of the process will be to apply for a Grant of Probate. We are more than happy to help you apply for the Grant of Probate, and can also take care of the full administration of the estate. For more details please contact out offices.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I register a death?

We have been in touch with our local Registry Office who have confirmed that because they are classed as key workers, they will continue to remain open to register deaths.  This will allow us to then progress your matter as normal.

We are however anticipating delays with the turnaround at the probate registry as things progress, but we will keep you updated as we know more.


My relative has made a Will with Banner Jones and they have passed away during the Coronavirus pandemic. What do I do?

Whilst our offices are currently closed, please be rest assured that our Wills & Probate team are still working remotely from home as per Government guidelines. Any Wills, Deeds, or other documents that we may hold for your relative are also still accessible from our secure, off-site storage facility. Please contact us on 01246 560560 or by e-mail at  and a member of the team will be able to talk you through the next steps.

My relative has passed away and the executors named in the Will all live in different locations across the country. How do we all make contact with Banner Jones during the lockdown?

When a relative passes away, there will be a number of matters to discuss, and usually a large amount of paperwork and documentation to work through. Given the current circumstances, the logistics of getting everyone together to review and discuss everything can be quite challenging. Whilst our team are not currently able to meet you in person we are now arranging video appointments, through apps like Skype, Zoom and Facetime, where we can still speak to you from the comfort of your own home. These programs also allow for multiple people to be a part of the same video meeting, meaning that all executors can join-in, no matter where they might be in the country.

When it comes to documentation, our offices are closed to clients but we do still have a small team who are handling incoming post and ensuring it is passed on to the appropriate person. This means we are still able to take receipt of any documentation you send to us through the mail as usual. If you are worried about having to collect paperwork from the deceased’s home, we are also able to have your relative’s mail re-directed to ourselves, where we can take receipt and deal with everything for you.

Banner Jones have been appointed as the professional executors in the Will. Are you still able to act during the current circumstances?

Dealing with an estate is a complicated, time consuming, and difficult process, so it is common for people to appoint a solicitor as their professional executor, to reduce the burden on family and friends. As a long-standing law firm in the area, we have been appointed professional executors by many people over the years.

Please be assured that, whilst our offices are currently closed, our teams are all still working remotely and are fully able to continue in their roles of administrating the estate. The work involved in administering an estate is carried out by communications through e-mail, phone and post, all of which we still have usual access to. We are working with local contacts to ensure we are still able to deal with funeral and property arrangements, and are liaising with Government bodies to make sure we can still obtain Death Certificates and Grants of Probate.

For more information on our Full Estate Administration service click here.

I’d prefer to meet someone in person, is that possible during the Coronavirus measures?

We are making every effort to ensure that all work can be carried out remotely through phone calls, video conferencing, e-mail, etc, meaning you are not required to attend our offices as part of the process. That being said, we do understand that some clients may prefer a face-to-face meeting.

Whilst we are not currently in a position to meet clients in person, the process of administering an estate is quite complicated and can take several weeks to complete. Whilst we may have to speak to you remotely during the early stages of the process, we hope that the current restrictions may start to be lifted by the time we reach the later parts of your matter.

As soon as it safe for us to do so, we would then be more than happy to meet with you to talk about any matters you may prefer to discuss in person. In the meantime, we can still work on your matter and speak to you remotely, but hope to be able to see you in person soon.

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Kathryn Wheeldon
Kathryn Wheeldon
Head of Wills & Probate
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