What to do after a death in England or Wales

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    What to do after a death in England or Wales

    Introduction

    When someone close to you dies, there are many decisions and arrangements you’ll have to make, often at a time of personal distress.

    Here we offer help and guidance about what to do when someone dies. For example, it tells you how to:
    • get a medical certificate which shows the cause of death
    • register the death
    • arrange the funeral, and
    • decide what to do with the person’s property and belongings.

    Financial help you may be able to get and lists organisations who can give you support and comfort.

    What to do first

    If someone dies in hospital

    If someone dies in hospital, the hospital staff will contact the person named by that person as their ‘next of kin’.

    The hospital will keep the body in the mortuary until the executor or someone acting on their behalf arranges for it to be taken away. Most funeral directors have a chapel of rest where the body will be held until the funeral.

    If someone dies elsewhere

    If you expected the person’s death

    If you expected the person’s death, you should contact the doctor who cared for them during their illness. If the doctor can confirm the cause of death, they will give you:
    • a medical certificate that shows the cause of death (this is free of charge and will be in an envelope addressed to the registrar), and
    • a formal notice that says that the doctor has signed the medical certificate (this tells you how to get the death registered).

    If you did not expect the person’s death

    If the person’s death is sudden or unexpected or you discover a body, you should contact the person’s:
    • family doctor (if you know who it is), or
    • nearest relative.

    You must also contact the police. They can help you find the people listed above, if necessary.

    If the cause of death is not clear

    If the cause of death is not clear, the doctor or other people who helped to look after the person must report it to the coroner.

    The coroner may decide that there needs to be a post-mortem and an inquest.

    Coroners
    The coroner is a lawyer or doctor responsible for investigating a death when:
    • the cause is sudden and unknown
    • it was violent, unnatural or happened under suspicious circumstances, or
    • it happened in prison or in police custody.

    In these cases, the coroner may be the only person who can confirm the cause of death. The doctor will write on the formal notice that they have referred the death to the coroner.

    If you want advice or information about a death which you have reported to the coroner, contact the coroner’s office. You can get the address from the police station, your local library or the hospital where the person died.

    Post-mortems

    A post-mortem is a medical examination of the body, which can find out more about the cause of death. It should not delay when you can have the funeral.

    The coroner may arrange for a postmortem.

    If you’re a relative of the person who has died, they do not need your permission to do this, but you are entitled to have a doctor represent you at the postmortem.

    If this is the case, the coroner will tell you when and where the post-mortem will be.

    If the person dies in hospital, you may ask the coroner to arrange for the post-mortem to be carried out by a pathologist other than one employed at or connected to the hospital the person died in.

    The coroner will usually pay to remove the
    person’s body from where they died to the
    mortuary for the post-mortem. The coroner
    must ask your permission (if you are the
    person’s next of kin) if any organs or tissue
    need to be kept once the post-mortem has
    been carried out.
    The coroner will choose a funeral director
    to take the person’s body from where they
    died to the hospital mortuary. You can then
    choose your own funeral director to carry
    out the funeral once the coroner has
    finished the post-mortem.
     
    If the post-mortem shows that a person
    has died due to natural causes, the
    coroner may issue a notice known as ‘Pink
    Form B’ (form 100B). This form shows the
    cause of death so that the death can be
    registered.
    If the body is going to be cremated, the
    coroner will give you the certificate for
    cremation which allows you to arrange for
    the body to be cremated (see page 24).
    Inquests
    An inquest is a fact finding inquiry into the
    medical cause and circumstances of a
    death. It is held in public, sometimes with a
    jury. It is up to the coroner to decide how
    to organise the inquiry in a way which is
    best for the public and the relatives of the
    person who died.
    The coroner will hold an inquest if:
    • the death was of unknown cause,
    violent or not natural
    • the death was caused by a disease in
    the workplace, or
    • the person died in prison.
    Coroners hold inquests in these
    circumstances even if the person died
    outside England or Wales, if the body is
    returned here. If someone’s body has been
    destroyed by fire or is lying in a place from
    which it cannot be recovered, a coroner
    can hold an inquest by order of the
    Secretary of State.
    What to do after a death
     
    If an inquest is held, the coroner must tell
    the following people (if their name and
    address is known to the coroner):
    • the husband, wife or civil partner of the
    person who died
    • the nearest relative (if this is not the
    person’s husband, wife or civil partner),
    and
    • the person’s personal representative or
    executor (if they are not any of the
    above).
    You can go to an inquest and ask the
    witnesses questions, but only about the
    medical cause and circumstances of the
    person’s death, if you are:
    • a parent, child, husband, wife or partner,
    or personal representative of the person
    who died
    • a beneficiary under the insurance of the
    person who died
    • the insurer who issued the policy;
    • a person whose act or omission may
    have caused or contributed to the death
    • a person appointed by the trade union
    of the person who died if they may have
    died from an industrial injury or disease
    • a person appointed by an enforcing
    authority or government department, or
    • the chief police officer.
     
    The coroner may decide it is right to allow
    other people not listed here to ask
    questions.
    It is not necessary to be legally represented
    at an inquest. The inquest is not a trial so
    there is no prosecution or defence.
    Witnesses are not expected to present
    legal arguments and an inquest cannot
    blame anyone for the death. The coroner
    ensures that the process is impartial and he
    or she ensures that the process is
    thorough, and is expected to assist families
    and ensure that their questions are
    answered.
    If the inquest takes some time, ask the
    coroner to give you an ‘interim certificate of
    the fact of death’ or a letter confirming the
    person’s death. You can use this certificate
    or letter for benefits and National Insurance
    purposes. Financial institutions should
    usually accept this certificate as evidence
    of the death. The coroner may give you an
    ‘order for burial’ or a ‘certificate for
    cremation’ so that you can arrange the
    funeral, as long as the body is not needed
    for further examination.
    The coroner will also send a ‘certificate
    after inquest’ to the registrar, which will
    give the cause of death. This means that
    the registrar can register the death.
    Go online at www.direct.gov.uk to see
    more information about the inquest system
    and what the coroner is responsible for.
     
    What to do after a death

    Summary of forms and certificates

    Some of the forms and certificates you may be given by doctors and coroners are listed below. The list explains when and where you get each form.

    When someone has died In all cases The death is not referred to a coroner A baby is stillborn
    The death is referred to a coroner, but there is no inquest There is an inquest and the body is to be buried There is a postmortem or an inquest and the body is to be cremated The body is to be
    moved out of England or Wales You will usually get the following:
    Formal notice
    Medical certificate
    Medical certificate of stillbirth
    Notification by the coroner (pink form 100A or 100B)
    Order for burial (form 101)
    Coroner’s certificate for cremation
    Removal notice (form 104)

    You will get this from the following
    Doctor or midwife
    Coroner (the coroner usually sends this direct to the registrar, but you may be asked to take it to the registrar yourself)

    If the organs and/or body are to be donated It is sometimes possible to use organs and body tissues from someone who has died, which can help others to live.

    Whether or not organs can be transplanted
    depends on how and where the person
    died. The donation of internal organs (such
    as the liver, kidneys, heart or lungs) may be
    possible if the person died in hospital while
    on a ventilator, but not if they died at home
    or elsewhere. Wherever they died, it may
    be possible to donate corneas, heart valves
    and skin and bone.
    If the cause of death is suspicious, sudden
    or unexpected and has been referred to
    the coroner, the coroner must agree to the
    removal of the organ, since the removal
    could affect some important evidence.
    Decisions can usually be made very
    quickly.
    If the person who died carried a donor card
    or was listed on the NHS Organ Donor
    Register and it is possible to transplant an
    organ, the appropriate qualifying person
    (see page 13) will be contacted to ask
    whether or not they agree to donation.
    What to do after a death
     
    Where the person who died did not
    indicate their consent (or refusal) to donate
    their organs and, in the case of an adult, a
    nominated representative has not been
    appointed, someone close to them can
    give consent to the removal, storage and
    use of organs and tissues for
    transplantation.
    The Human Tissue Act 2004 sets out the
    order in which those close to the deceased
    person should be contacted for the
    purposes of obtaining consent for the use
    of organs or body tissues. In order of
    priority this is:
    • Partner
    • Parent or child
    • Brother or sister
    • Grandparent or grandchild
    • Niece or nephew
    • Stepfather or stepmother
    • Half brother or half sister
    • Friend of long standing
    If you have not already been asked about
    organ and/or tissue donation and want to
    find out whether or not it is possible, speak
    to staff at the hospital

    Partner

    We will treat you as a
    couple if you live with
    your husband, wife or
    civil partner, or if you live
    with someone as if they
    were your husband,
    wife or civil partner. We
    call this other person
    your partner.
     
    Donating a body for medical education,
    training or research
    People who donate their bodies make a
    vital contribution to training by medical
    schools. Those who wish to donate their
    body must have made their wishes known
    in writing before they died, and let their
    next of kin know.
    The Human Tissue Authority regulates this
    area, and if you need to know more about
    how to donate a body, visit www.hta.gov.uk
    If you want to move a body out of
    England or Wales
    If you want to move the body out of
    England or Wales (for example, so that you
    can have the funeral abroad), you must get
    the coroner’s permission. You need to get
    this at least 4 days before you want the
    body to be moved. Sometimes, the
    coroner may be able to give their
    permission sooner.
    After the coroner has finished their
    inquiries, they will give you a ‘removal
    notice’.
    This procedure applies in all cases where
    the body is to be moved out of England or
    Wales, not just when you report a death to
    the coroner.
    What to do after a death
     
    How to register a death
    The death must be registered with the
    registrar of births and deaths. You can find
    the address in the phone book.
    If the death has not been referred to the
    coroner, you should tell the registrar about
    it as soon as possible. The death must be
    registered within 5 days (unless the
    registrar says this period may be
    extended).
    If the death has been referred to the
    coroner, it can’t be registered until the
    registrar has received the coroner’s
    permission to do so (see page 10).
    You can give any registrar in England and
    Wales the information to register a death.
    You will need to go to the registrar’s office,
    to tell them formally about the person’s
    death.
    Check when the registrar will be there and
    if only you need to go along. It may be that
    someone else needs to give the registrar
    some information to register the death.
    If the death took place in a different area
    from the registrar you choose, they will
    send these details to the registrar who
    covers that area to register the death. This
    may cause a delay in arranging the funeral.
     
    If the person died on a ship or plane, check
    which country you need to register their
    death in. Usually, this is the country that
    the ship or plane is registered in.
    What happens at the registrar’s office
    When you go to the registrar you should
    take:
    • the medical certificate which shows the
    cause of death
    • the person’s medical card, if possible,
    and
    • the person’s birth and marriage or civil
    partnership certificates, if these are
    available.
    You should tell the registrar:
    • the date and place the person died
    • the person’s usual address (their only or
    main home)
    • the person’s first names and surname
    (and maiden name, if this applies)
    • the person’s date and place of birth (the
    town and county if they were born in the
    UK, and the country if they were born
    abroad)
    • the person’s occupation and the name
    and occupation of their husband, wife or
    civil partner
    • if the person was getting a pension or
    benefit from the Government, and
    What to do after a death
    17
    • the date of birth of their surviving
    husband, wife or civil partner (if the
    person was married or in a civil
    partnership).
    The registrar who registers the death will
    give you the following.
    • A certificate for burial or cremation
    (known as the ‘green form’), unless the
    coroner has given you an order for burial
    (form 101), or a certificate for cremation.
    These give permission for the body to
    be buried or to apply for the body to be
    cremated. You should take this to the
    funeral director so that the funeral can
    be held.
    • A certificate of registration of death (form
    BD8). This is for benefit claim purposes
    only. You should read the information on
    the back of the certificate. If any of it
    applies, fill in the certificate and contact
    Jobcentre Plus or The Pension Service.
    • Leaflets about bereavement benefits and
    income tax for surviving husbands,
    wives or civil partners, where
    appropriate.
    If you register the death away from the area
    where the death took place, the registrar
    will send this information to you.
     
    The death certificate
    The death certificate is a certified copy of
    what is written in the death register. The
    registrar can let you have a death certificate
    if you want one, but you will have to pay a
    fee.
    You may need a death certificate for the will
    (see page 39), and for any pension claims,
    insurance policies, savings bank certificates
    and premium bonds.
    You may want to ask for more than one
    copy of the death certificate straight away,
    as the price increases if you need one later
    on. The registrar may not be able to give
    you all the copies straight away and may
    ask you to call back or ask you to pay an
    amount towards postage so that they can
    send them to you.
    Registering the death of a stillborn baby
    If a baby is stillborn (born dead after the
    24th week of pregnancy) you will be given
    a medical certificate of stillbirth signed by
    the midwife or doctor, which you should
    give to the registrar. If there wasn’t a doctor
    or midwife there, and no doctor or midwife
    has examined the body, you must sign a
    form (form 35) which the registrar will give
    you.
    The registrar will give you a certificate for
    burial or cremation and a certificate of
    registration of stillbirth.
    What to do after a death
     
    You can ask to have a first name for a
    stillborn baby when you register the death.
    The registrar will write the baby’s name on
    these certificates if the name is recorded in
    the register. It is also possible to get
    certified copies of what is written in the
    death register.
    Maternity benefits
    If your baby was stillborn after 24 weeks of
    pregnancy, you may still be entitled to
    Statutory Maternity Pay or Maternity
    Allowance. There is a leaflet from Jobcentre
    Plus which gives you more information
    about this.
    You can give any registrar in England or
    Wales the information to register a stillbirth.
    The procedure to register a stillbirth is
    similar to the procedure for registering a
    death (see page 15).
    To find out more about arranging a funeral
    for a stillborn baby, see page 23.
     
    Summary of forms and certificates
    Below is a list of some of the forms and certificates the registrar will
    give you when you register a death. The list explains when and
    where you get each form.
    When you register a death
    If no coroner has issued a
    certificate for cremation or a
    burial order
    If Jobcentre Plus or The
    Pension Service needs to know
    about the death
    If you need evidence of the
    death to get probate, pensions
    claims, insurance policies,
    savings certificates or premium
    bonds
    If a baby is stillborn
    If a baby is stillborn and you
    want a burial or cremation
    You will usually get the
    following
    Certificate for burial or
    cremation (the green form)
    Certificate of registration of
    death (form BD8)
    Death certificate
    Registration of stillbirth
    Certificate for burial or
    cremation (the white form)
    What to do after a death
     
    Arranging the funeral
    Do not make final funeral arrangements
    until you are sure that you do not have to
    report the death to the coroner, as this may
    affect the date when the funeral can be
    held.
    Find out if there is a will, as this may give
    details of what the person wanted for their
    funeral arrangements (see page 39).
    If you arrange for a funeral, you are
    responsible for paying the bill, so first
    check where the money will come from
    and if there will be enough to cover all the
    costs.
    There are some laws about what to do
    after someone has died. Their death needs
    to be registered and the body needs to be
    properly taken care of, by either burial or
    cremation.
    If you need to arrange a burial or funeral
    service in line with a particular religion, you
    can get advice from a minister of that
    religion or the religious organisation that the
    person who died belonged to.
     
    Arranging the funeral without a funeral
    director
    Many people choose to use a professional
    funeral director to organise a funeral. They
    do this partly because it is easier, at what is
    generally a stressful time.
    It is possible for you to organise a funeral
    without the help of a funeral director, but
    you should contact the cemeteries and
    crematorium department of your local
    council for advice.
    Choosing a funeral director
    Friends, family, clergy or your doctor may
    be able to suggest a local company with a
    good reputation. If not, most local firms are
    listed in the Yellow Pages. Remember, their
    charges can vary considerably. You may
    want to contact or visit more than one firm.
    Most funeral directors choose to join one of
    the 2 trade associations below. Funeral
    directors do not have to be in a trade
    association, so you may want to check this
    before choosing one.
    What to do after a death
     
    National Association of Funeral
    Directors
    Phone: 0845 230 1343
    Website: www.nafd.org.uk
    National Society of Allied & Independent
    Funeral Directors
    Phone: 0845 230 6777
    Website: www.saif.org.uk
    Both organisations have codes of practice.
    Funeral directors who are members have to
    provide you with a price list when you ask,
    and they will not increase any costs they
    give you without your permission.
    The funeral director will need the certificate
    for burial or cremation (the green form) or
    an order for burial, or a certificate for
    cremation which gives permission for a
    burial or to apply for a cremation.

    Funeral for a stillborn baby
    The hospital may offer to arrange a burial
    or cremation, free of charge, for a stillborn
    baby, whether they were born in hospital or
    at home. You should discuss the funeral
    arrangements with the hospital staff or
    midwife.
    If you accept the offer the baby will be
    cremated or buried after a simple
    ceremony, or you can arrange the funeral
    yourself.
    For information on call charges, see page 70.
     
    Deciding about cremation or burial
    Check the will to see if the person who has
    died has given any instructions for their
    funeral. It is generally up to the executor or
    next of kin to decide whether to have a
    cremation or burial. The executor does not
    have to follow the instructions about the
    funeral left in the will.
    The funeral director will help you to decide
    where the body should stay until the
    funeral, and when and where the funeral
    should take place.
    If there is going to be a service or
    ceremony, you should contact the
    appropriate person for the religion or belief
    of the person who has died. If you are not
    sure, the funeral director should be able to
    help you.
    Cremation
    No one can be cremated until the cause of
    death is definitely known. The crematorium
    (or funeral director) usually requires:
    • an application form signed by the next of
    kin or executor, and
    • 2 cremation certificates (the first signed
    by the treating doctor and another
    signed by a doctor not involved with the
    treatment of the person who has died),
    or
    • a cremation form signed by the coroner.
    What to do after a death
     
    You have to pay for the cremation
    certificates signed by the 2 doctors. If the
    death is referred to the coroner, you do not
    need these 2 certificates. Instead, the
    coroner will give you a certificate for
    cremation which is free.
    If the crematorium is satisfied that the
    cause of death has been confirmed, and
    that all the forms have been completed
    correctly, the ‘medical referee’ will authorise
    cremation by signing a form. The medical
    referee has the power to refuse the
    cremation and make further enquiries, but
    must give a reason for doing so.
    If the person died outside England or
    Wales, see page 27.
    It is important to make it clear to the funeral
    director or crematorium staff what you
    want to be done with the ashes. If this is
    not clear, they will need to contact you to
    discuss what they should do.
    You can scatter someone’s ashes in a
    garden of remembrance or their favourite
    place, bury them in a churchyard or
    cemetery, or keep them.
    In the case of babies and very young
    children, there may be no ashes after a
    cremation. At some crematoriums you can
    arrange to have a memorial plaque which
    you may have to pay for.
    A ‘medical referee’ is
    appointed by the
    Secretary of State to
    authorise all cremations
    in a crematorium.
     
    Burial
    Before someone can be buried, you must
    have a death certificate signed by a doctor
    and a certificate for burial from the registrar
    of births and deaths (see page 20).
    You should find out if the person has
    already arranged a grave space in a
    churchyard or cemetery, by checking their
    will and looking through their papers.
    There will be a ‘deed of grant’ which shows
    a grave space has been paid for in a
    cemetery. Most cemeteries are open to all
    faiths, so you can have most types of
    service or ceremony. These cemeteries are
    owned by local authorities or private
    companies, and their fees vary. Some
    cemeteries and churchyards no longer
    have any space for new graves.
    If you want the burial to be in a churchyard,
    you can find out from the priest or minister
    if there is space and who has the right to
    be buried there.
    What to do after a death
     
    If the person died outside England
    or Wales
    Registering someone’s death
    If the person died in Scotland or Northern
    Ireland, you should register their death in
    that country.
    If the person died abroad, or on a ship or
    plane, you should register their death in line
    with the laws of that country (or the country
    in which the ship or plane is registered),
    and get a death certificate.
    If the person who died was a British
    national, you may also register the death
    with the British Consul in the country
    concerned. If the death took place on a
    British-registered ship or plane, the death
    will be registered with the relevant
    authorities in the UK (Registrar General for
    Shipping and Seamen, or the Civil Aviation
    Authority).
    You will be able to get the death certificate
    from the British Consul who registered the
    death or, for deaths on ships and planes,
    from the General Register Office.
    Phone: 0845 603 7788
    Website: www.ips.gov.uk/gro
    For information on call charges, see page 70.
     
    If the person died outside of England or
    Wales in the circumstances listed on pages
    5 and 6, or there is not full information
    about their death and their body is brought
    to England or Wales, you must report their
    death to a coroner in the same way as if
    they had died in England or Wales.
    Funerals abroad
    You can arrange a burial or cremation
    abroad. The British Consul in that country
    can register the death. This avoids the
    costs of bringing the body back to England
    or Wales.
    Bringing a body back to England or
    Wales
    You may be able to bring the body back to
    England or Wales. Most funeral directors
    should be able to give you advice on how
    to go about this is and what it is likely to
    cost.
    You will need the death certificate from the
    place the person died, or formal permission
    from the coroner or relevant authority in the
    country where the person died, to bring the
    body back to England or Wales.
    What to do after a death
     
    Arranging a funeral in England or Wales
    To arrange a funeral in England or Wales
    you will need:
    • an approved translation of a foreign
    death certificate, or a death certificate
    issued in Scotland or Northern Ireland
    (these must show the cause of death),
    and
    • a certificate of ‘no liability to register’
    from the registrar in the area in England
    or Wales where the burial or cremation is
    going to take place. You do not need
    this certificate if a coroner has issued a
    certificate for cremation or an order for
    burial.
    Arranging a cremation
    If a person died abroad and you have
    brought their body back to England or
    Wales to arrange a cremation, you will
    need a cremation order from the local
    coroner. You can get their details from any
    local funeral director.
    In England or Wales, if you have either of
    the above forms you will not need the 2
    forms signed by doctors (see page 24). For
    deaths in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the
    Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, there
    are forms which are the same as these
    forms in England and Wales which you can
    use for a cremation.
     
    If the person died from natural causes, the
    local coroner will issue an order to produce
    the application for cremation and original
    documents (which must clearly show the
    cause of death) from the country where the
    person died.
    The local coroner may need approved
    translations of documents if they are in a
    foreign language. When you send these,
    write ‘Cremation Urgent’ on the envelope.
    If the person did not die from natural
    causes, the coroner will start an inquest
    into their death. In these cases the coroner
    will issue a form for cremation when they
    open the inquest.
    What to do after a death
     
    Paying for the funeral
    Funerals can be expensive. So remember
    to check where the money for the funeral
    will come from before making any
    arrangements. Otherwise, you may have to
    pay the bill yourself.
    First check whether the person who has
    died had made any plans to pay for the
    funeral. The sections below set out some
    possibilities.
    If no one is able or willing to arrange and
    pay for the funeral, the local council, or in
    some cases, the health authority, may pay
    for the funeral, but only where the funeral
    has not already been arranged (see page
    38).
    If someone has arranged to pay for their
    own funeral
    There may be money available to pay for
    the funeral from money the person has left
    behind (assets) or through schemes and
    pensions that they paid into during their life.
    After someone dies, their bank account is
    ‘frozen’, unless it is a joint account. You
    may be able to use part of their savings to
    pay for the funeral. The bank will ask you to
    provide certain documents, which usually
    include the death certificate.
     
    You should check the person’s papers for a
    certificate from the Cremation Society, their
    life-insurance policy or a funeral plan which
    has already been paid for. You should also
    look for letters from their past employers
    with details about any occupational
    pension scheme or personal pension.
    These might cover the cost of the funeral,
    and also provide other financial support for
    their surviving husband, wife or civil partner.
    If the person was living in hospital or a
    residential care home, the hospital or home
    will hand over the person’s belongings (up
    to a figure fixed by the relevant local
    authority) to the nearest relative, or to the
    person who has written permission from
    whoever is dealing with the will.

    Employer’s pension schemes or
    personal pensions
    Some employers provide pension schemes
    through work (occupational pension
    schemes) that pay a lump sum to help with
    funeral costs and sometimes pension
    benefits for a person’s surviving husband,
    wife or civil partner. You should check to
    see if the person who died has ever
    belonged to this sort of scheme. They may
    have made their own arrangements if they
    were self-employed, or if their employer did
    not have an employer’s pension scheme.
    What to do after a death
     
    If the person was receiving a pension from
    a previous job, you should find out who is
    paying it. It might be the employer’s
    pension scheme or an insurance company.
    You should tell the representative from that
    pension scheme about the person’s death,
    and if the person has a surviving husband,
    wife or civil partner, dependent child or
    other dependant, because they may be
    able to get a pension. If they already
    receive a pension, they may be able to get
    more money.
    You should find out if there was pension
    due to be paid when the person retired
    from a previous employer. If there is a
    pension, you should check who is
    responsible for paying it, for example the
    employer or an insurance company.
    If you have difficulty, you can get help from
    the Pension Tracing Service.
    Phone: 0845 600 2537
    Textphone: 0845 300 0169 (For people
    who find it hard to speak or hear clearly)
    These lines are open Monday to Friday
    from 9am to 5pm.
    Website: www.thepensionservice.gov.uk
    For information on call charges, see page 70.
     
    Other pensions and payments
    There may be pensions or lump sums
    payable from a trade union, professional
    body or other association, or from a
    provident club which pays benefit when a
    member dies.
    If the person was getting a benefit before
    they died, there may be some of that
    benefit still due. When you tell the
    Department for Work and Pensions about
    the person’s death, ask them to send you a
    form which you can use to claim any
    money owed (see page 45).
    If you are the executor, you will be paid this
    money. If there is no executor but you are
    paying for the funeral, you can claim up to
    the cost of the funeral costs.
    Life insurance policies
    The person who died may have taken out a
    life insurance policy which pays a lump
    sum if someone dies before a certain age.
    The lump sum is usually paid after probate
    but the insurance company may pay out
    some money when they have proof that the
    person has died.
    The Cremation Society
    If the person who died was a member of
    the Cremation Society, you may be able to
    pay reduced cremation fees, or the
    Cremation Society may pay something
    towards the cost of the cremation.
    What to do after a death
     
    Funeral Payments from the Social Fund
    If you or your partner are on a low income
    and have to arrange a funeral, you may get
    some help with the costs.
    This is a one-off, tax-free payment to help
    cover the necessary costs of a funeral.
    The Social Fund can help to pay for a
    simple, respectful, low-cost funeral. This
    includes:
    • the necessary costs of burial or
    cremation fees
    • a new burial plot (if a burial is chosen)
    • certain other expenses, and
    • up to £700 for any other funeral
    expenses like funeral director’s fees, a
    coffin or flowers.
    You must claim within 3 months of the date
    of the funeral.
    You or your partner must get one of the
    following benefits.
    • Income Support
    • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
    • Income-related Employment and
    Support Allowance
    • Pension Credit
    • Working Tax Credit which includes a
    disability or severe disability element
     
    • Child Tax Credit at a rate higher than the
    family element
    • Housing Benefit
    • Council Tax Benefit
    It must also be reasonable for you or your
    partner to pay for the funeral.
    We may need to consider the
    circumstances of other relatives of the
    person who has died.
    Normally the person needs to have been
    living in the UK when they died and the
    funeral usually needs to be held in the UK.
    If you get a Funeral Payment, you will have
    to pay this back from any estate of the
    person who died. Their estate includes
    money, property and other things that they
    owned. (Any home that is still lived in by a
    surviving partner or personal things left to
    relatives do not form part of the estate.)
    To find out more about getting a Funeral
    Payment, contact Jobcentre Plus by
    visiting www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk or you
    can find our address and numbers in your
    local phone book.
    What to do after a death
     
    When a war pensioner dies
    If the person who died was a war
    pensioner, you may be able to get help
    with the cost of a simple funeral if they:
    • died from the condition that they were
    receiving a war pension for
    • died in hospital while having treatment
    for that condition
    • were getting war pensioner’s Constant
    Attendance Allowance at the time of
    their death, or
    • were getting a War Disablement Pension
    assessed at 80% or more and
    Unemployability Supplement at the time
    of their death.
    You will not have to pay any of the money
    back from the estate of the person who
    died.
    You must claim within 3 months of the
    funeral.
    To claim you need to contact the Service
    Personnel and Veterans Agency
    immediately after the funeral.
    Phone: 0800 169 2277
    Textphone: 0800 169 3458
    Monday to Thursday 8.15am to 5.15pm,
    Friday 8.15am to 4.30pm.
    Website: www.veterans-uk.info
    For information on call charges, see page 70.
     
    Other help
    The hospital may arrange the funeral of
    someone who dies in hospital if they
    cannot trace the person’s relatives, or their
    relatives can’t afford to pay for the funeral.
    They may make a claim on the person’s
    estate to pay for the funeral.
    Where the person has not died in hospital
    and there is no-one who can take
    responsibility for the funeral, the local
    council has a duty to bury or cremate
    someone if no other arrangements have
    been made. If they have a reason to think
    that the person who died did not want to
    be cremated, they will not arrange a
    cremation. They may make a claim on the
    person’s estate to pay for the funeral. Ask
    your council for more information.
    What to do after a death
     
    Dealing with someone’s estate
    and belongings
    The will
    Before you start dealing with someone’s
    property, you need to find out whether or
    not they left a valid will. If you can’t find a
    will, or can find only a copy, someone else
    may have it (such as a bank, a solicitor, or
    the executor) to keep it safe, and you
    should talk to them about it.
    A will does not necessarily look like a legal
    document, so you should not destroy any
    written instructions left by the person who
    has died, because these may be their will.
    A will says what should happen to
    someone’s estate when they die. If the
    person died leaving a valid will, their estate
    must be dealt with as set out in the will. A
    will has to be drawn up in line with strict
    rules and you may need to get legal advice
    to check whether the document you have
    is valid.
    If there is no will (or the will is not valid), the
    person is said to have died ‘intestate’. As a
    result, the estate must be dealt with in line
    with rules on intestacy, which set out who
    will inherit the estate and in what share.  

    Estate
    A person’s ‘estate’ is their
    money, property and
    belongings when they
    died. It may not include
    jointly-owned property.
     
    Jointly-owned property
    Two or more people may own the home
    together as ‘beneficial joint tenants’ or
    ‘tenants in common’.
    • Beneficial joint tenants own the land
    jointly, so that on the death of the first to
    die the land passes to the survivor(s)
    under the right of survivorship. The
    house does not form part of the estate
    of the first to die.
    • Tenants in common each own a share in
    the land, and when one of them dies
    their share is included in their estate. It
    passes either according to their will, or (if
    there is no will) follows the intestacy
    rules.
    The nature of the joint ownership should be
    settled when a property is acquired and
    recorded. If you are not sure how the home
    is owned, you should get legal advice.
    Getting permission to deal with the
    estate
    If the person who died left a will, they will
    usually have asked an executor to deal with
    their estate.
    If the person did not name an executor or
    did not leave a will, the court will appoint
    an administrator to deal with the estate.
    The administrator will usually be someone
    who is a beneficiary of the will, or who is
    entitled to inherit under the intestacy rules.
    What to do after a death
     
    Executors and administrators are also
    known as personal representatives.
    If you are entitled to deal with someone’s
    estate, you may have to apply for
    permission from the Probate Registry to
    manage and distribute it.
    This permission is called ‘a grant of
    representation’ (or probate for short). You
    can apply for a grant of representation
    yourself or through a solicitor. There are 3
    types of grant issued by the Probate
    Registry. The grant issued will depend on
    the circumstances of the case.
    Type of grant
    Grant of ‘probate’
    Grant of ‘letters of
    administration (with will
    annexed)’
    Grant of ‘letters of
    administration’
    Given to
    One or more of the executors
    named in the will
    An administrator, who is
    appointed by a court when the
    executors named in the will are
    not available, not willing or not
    suitable to manage the estate,
    or if the will does not name
    executors
    Administrators when there is no
    valid will
     
    You may be able to deal with someone’s
    estate without having to apply for a grant of
    representation. You should contact the
    organisations holding the property, money
    and belongings of the person who died, to
    find out if they need to see a grant before
    they release any assets to you.
    For more information on how to get a grant
    of representation and about inheritance tax,
    contact the Probate and Inheritance Tax
    helpline.
    Phone: 0845 30 20 900 (Monday to Friday
    9am to 5pm)
    Website: www.hmrc.gov.uk
    You can also get information from the
    Probate Service website at
    www.theprobateservice.gov.uk or you can
    go along to any Probate Registry.
    What does the executor or administrator
    need to do?
    As an executor or administrator, you will
    have certain duties and responsibilities
    when dealing with the person’s estate. You
    must:
    • find out how much their estate is worth
    • take all reasonable steps to collect any
    money the person is owed
    • pay any inheritance tax that might be
    due
    For information on call charges, see page 70.
    What to do after a death
     
    • pay for the funeral
    • pay any debts the person owed from the
    assets in their estate, and
    • distribute the remainder of the estate to
    the beneficiaries.
    Gathering details of someone’s assets and
    liabilities
    You should look carefully through the
    person’s personal papers to find details of
    all their assets (such as bank accounts,
    building society accounts, insurance
    policies, share certificates, savings
    certificates, premium bonds and so on) and
    liabilities (such as money they owe for
    electricity, gas, water, phone bills and so
    on, and personal debt such as credit
    agreements and credit-card accounts).
    You may be able to get back part of any
    money the person paid up front for items
    such as a television licence, road tax,
    household insurance, council tax and so
    on. You should also find out which credit
    organisations the person owed money to.
    Make sure you pay any debts
    You should pay any debts, including funeral
    expenses, out of the person’s estate. If
    there is no estate to pay for the funeral.
     
    You, as the executor or administrator, are
    responsible for paying the debts of the
    estate. If you do not know some or all of
    the organisations the person had credit
    with (the people they owe money to), you
    should advertise for any creditors to come
    forward and make a claim against the
    estate. This advert is called a ‘Deceased
    estates notice’ and you should publish it in
    ‘The London Gazette’. If the estate
    contains land, you should also advertise in
    a newspaper in the area where the land is
    situated.
    The London Gazette is published each
    working day. You will have to pay for the
    advert out of the estate. There is a
    separate edition of the same newspaper for
    Scotland. Visit www.gazettes-online.co.uk
    for more information about how to publish
    in The London Gazette.
    You need to give creditors 2 months to
    make a claim. If you do not advertise, you
    may have to pay any claims creditors make
    after the person’s estate has been shared
    out.
    You should tell the creditors that you are
    the executor or administrator. This may
    also mean telling organisations such as
    water, gas, electricity and telephone
    suppliers, hire-purchase or rental
    companies.
    What to do after a death
     
    One example of a claim that may come up
    is if Jobcentre Plus find they have paid too
    much Income Support to someone who
    has died and ask for the overpayment
    back. If the person who died owes any
    National Insurance at the date of their
    death, this must also be paid out of the
    estate. If this is not paid, it may affect the
    benefit the surviving husband, wife or civil
    partner gets.
    You may have to sell some or all of the
    assets in the estate to pay off the debts of
    the person who died. However, do not rush
    into either selling assets or distributing the
    estate. Where appropriate, seek
    professional legal advice.
    Claiming any benefit someone is owed
    The executor or administrator can claim
    any state benefits someone is owed even
    after they have died. There may be money
    due if the person was getting or had
    recently claimed a benefit.
    To claim any benefit owed you should
    show Jobcentre Plus form BD8 from the
    registrar (see page 17) and ask them for a
    form to apply for the benefit.
    Sometimes, benefit can be paid without
    having to claim. Ask Jobcentre Plus for
    more information, as soon as you can, if:
    • the person who died was waiting for the
    outcome of an appeal against a decision
    about their benefit, or
     
    • you think they may have been eligible for
    a benefit but did not claim it. You may
    be able to act on their behalf and any
    benefit they are owed may be payable to
    the estate.
    Things to return
    You should return the following items, with
    a note to explain what has happened and
    the date the person died.
    • Any forms or cheques issued as part of
    a benefit claim. You should send these
    to the Jobcentre which issued them.
    This also applies to Child Benefit
    payments which include payment for a
    child who has died. Jobcentre Plus
    should not make payments after
    someone has died. It may be useful to
    keep a record of any benefits before you
    send anything back.
    • The person’s passport. You should send
    this to the Identity and Passport Service
    for them to cancel. Before posting it,
    please cut off the top right-hand corner
    of the passport. The Passport Office will
    give you advice on where to send the
    passport.
    Phone: 0300 222 0000
    Website: www.passport.gov.uk
    For information on call charges, see page 70.
    What to do after a death
     
    • The person’s driving licence. You should
    send this to:
    The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
    Longview Road
    Swansea
    SA6 7JL.
    • The registration documents for the
    person’s car, to record who now owns
    the car.
    • Membership cards of any clubs,
    associations or trade union.
    • Library books and tickets.
    • National Insurance papers. You should
    send these to the relevant HM Revenue
    & Customs office.
    • Any NHS equipment such as
    wheelchairs, hearing aids or artificial
    limbs.
    • Disabled parking permit. You should
    return the disk to the local authority.
    You will also need to contact the
    Bereavement Register to remove their
    name from mailing lists.
    You should also cancel things like the
    person’s home-help services, meals on
    wheels, gas, water or electricity.
     
    People to tell
    You should tell:
    • any hospital the person was going to for
    their medical appointments
    • their doctor
    • HM Revenue & Customs (see page 63)
    • Jobcentre Plus or The Pension Service
    (if the person was getting a benefit or
    State Pension)
    • the person’s employer and trade union (if
    they were working)
    • the person’s school or college (if they
    were in education)
    • the person’s car insurance company (if
    you are insured to drive the car under
    the person’s name, you may not still be
    legally insured to drive the car)
    • gas, electricity and telephone suppliers
    • their local council (you may need to tell
    more than one department in the
    council, such as the housing, social
    services or council tax departments)
    • the person’s bank, building society or
    insurance company, and
    • the Post Office so that they can redirect
    the person’s post, if necessary.
    Distributing the estate and dealing with
    claims on the estate
    As executor or administrator, your role is to
    administer the estate.
    What to do after a death
     
    Distributing someone’s property
    Once all the assets have been gathered in
    and the taxes and debts have been paid,
    then you, as the executor or administrator,
    must distribute what is left in the estate to
    the beneficiaries. If there is a will, you must
    follow the instructions set out in the will.
    If there is no will, you must distribute the
    estate in line with the laws of intestacy. The
    summary below explains the intestacy
    rules.
    Summary of the intestacy rules
    Where a person dies leaving a husband,
    wife or civil partner, and children.
    The husband, wife or civil partner will take:
    • the ‘personal chattels’ such as
    household articles
    • a statutory legacy of the first £125,0001
    of the estate free of tax, and
    • a life interest in half the remaining estate
    (this may be turned into a capital sum).
    The rest of the estate goes to the children.
    If any child is under 18, this share is held in
    trust until either the child reaches 18 or
    gets married under that age.
    1 From 1 February 2009, the statutory
    legacy amount in these circumstances
    will increase from £125,000 to £250,000.
    ‘personal chattels’
    These are personal
    belongings, including
    jewellery, furniture,
    pictures, books and cars
    (but not money,
    investments, property or
    business assets).
     
    Where a person dies leaving a husband,
    wife or civil partner, but not children
    The husband, wife or civil partner will take:
    • the ‘personal chattels’ such as
    household articles
    • a statutory legacy of the first £200,0002
    of the estate free of tax, and
    • full ownership of half the remaining
    estate.
    The other half of the estate goes to the
    parents (equally if both are alive), or if no
    parent is alive then divided between the
    ‘whole blood’ brothers or sisters.
    2 From 1 February 2009, the statutory
    legacy amount in these circumstance will
    increase from £200,000 to £450,000.
    Where a person dies with no surviving
    husband, wife or civil partner
    The estate is distributed to the person’s
    blood relatives, in the following order:
    • to the children, but if none
    • to the parents, but if none
    • to ‘whole blood’ brothers or sisters, but
    if none
    • to ‘half blood’ brothers or sisters, but if
    none
    • to the grandparents, but if none
    ‘Whole blood’ relatives
    share the same mother
    and father.
    ‘Half blood’ relatives
    have only one parent in
    common.
    What to do after a death
     
    • to ‘whole blood’ aunts or uncles, but if
    none
    • to ‘half blood’ aunts or uncles, but if
    none
    • to the Crown.
    The estate will be divided equally between
    each of those entitled.
    To inherit, any relative listed above must
    survive the person who died, and be 18
    (unless they marry before they reach 18). If
    they die before they reach 18 (or marry
    younger than 18), their share goes to any
    others in that group.
    Other than parents and grandparents, if
    any relative listed above has already died
    but leaves children of their own, their share
    is divided equally amongst these children.
    Who can make a claim on an estate?
    Whether or not you are related to the
    person who died, you can apply to the
    court for a share of their estate if they were
    supporting you financially in any way just
    before their death. This will apply to
    unmarried partners (or partners where there
    is no civil partnership) in a case where there
    is no will.
    If you qualify, you must apply within 6
    months of the date when the grant of
    representation was issued. The court may
    let you apply later in special circumstances.
     
    If you want to apply, you should get legal
    advice as soon as possible after the person
    dies. Do not leave it until after the 6
    months.
    What happens if the person who died has
    no relatives?
    If there is no will, and the person who died
    leaves no surviving husband, wife or civil
    partner or blood relatives, the estate will go
    to the Crown. For more information, you
    should contact the Treasury Solicitors
    Department.
    The Treasury Solicitor’s Department (BV)
    One Kemble Street
    London WC2B 4TS
    The effect of marriage, divorce and civil
    partnerships on a will
    If someone makes a will and then gets
    married or forms a civil partnership, their
    will ceases to be valid. However, if they
    make a will knowing that they were going
    to be married or form a civil partnership to
    a particular person and the will reflects
    this intention, the will remains valid.
    If someone in a relationship with person of
    the same sex made a will before 5
    December 2005, and then later registered
    as a civil partnership in England or Wales,
    their will is still valid.
    What to do after a death
     
    Generally if someone makes a will and then
    gets divorced or ends (dissolves) a civil
    partnership:
    • any gift left to their former husband, wife
    or civil partner, and
    • any appointment of their former
    husband, wife or civil partner as
    executor
    does not take effect unless the will says
    otherwise.
    If a child has died
    Child Benefit is a benefit paid to people
    who are bringing up children. If a child has
    died, you must tell HM Revenue &
    Customs within 8 weeks of the child’s
    death.
    You will continue to receive Child Benefit
    for the child who has died for 8 weeks after
    their death. You can contact HM Revenue
    & Customs using the details below.
    Phone: 0845 302 1444
    Textphone: 0845 302 1474
    Website: www.hmrc.gov.uk/childbenefit
    For information on call charges, see page 70.
     
    Help and support for you
    If someone in your family dies, it can cause
    money problems. This may only be for a
    short time, while you wait for their estate to
    be distributed, or you may need long-term
    help.
    This section is about benefits and
    entitlements that might help you after
    someone dies.
    If you are widowed or become a surviving
    civil partner, there are different kinds of
    benefits you can get. The benefit you get
    may depend on your age or the number of
    children you have living with you.
    The type and amount of bereavement
    benefit you can get is based on your
    husband, wife or civil partner’s National
    Insurance contributions.
    If you can’t get a full State Pension
    because your husband, wife or civil partner
    did not pay enough National Insurance
    contributions, and they died because of an
    accident at work or an industrial disease,
    The Pension Service will treat your case as
    if your husband, wife or civil partner had
    paid full National Insurance contributions.
    If you marry someone else, form a civil
    partnership or live with someone as if they
    are your husband, wife or civil partner, you
    will not be able to continue getting
    bereavement benefits.
    What to do after a death
     
    Bereavement benefits
    The Bereavement Benefit Scheme was
    introduced on 9 April 2001, and applies to
    people widowed on or after this date. It
    also applies to people who became a
    surviving civil partner on or after 5
    December 2005.
    You may be able to get a Bereavement
    Payment and either:
    • Widowed Parent’s Allowance, or
    • Bereavement Allowance.
    To qualify for these bereavement benefits,
    your husband, wife or civil partner must
    have paid National Insurance contributions.
    The contributions you paid do not count for
    these benefits.
    Bereavement Payment
    A Bereavement Payment is a tax-free lump
    sum payment to help you at the time your
    husband, wife or civil partner dies.
    You can get a Bereavement Payment if
    your husband, wife or civil partner paid
    enough National Insurance contributions, or
    if their death was caused by their job, and:
    • you were under State Pension age when
    they died, or
    • they were not entitled to Category A
    State Pension when they died.
    Category A State Pension
    is made up of Basic State
    Pension, and Additional
    State Pension. You may
    receive either part or
    both.
     
    You cannot get a Bereavement Payment if,
    at the time your husband, wife or civil
    partner died:
    • you were divorced from them, or your
    civil partnership had been legally ended
    • you were living with someone else as if
    you were married or in a civil partnership
    with them, or
    • while you were in prison or legal
    custody.
    Widowed Parent’s Allowance
    Widowed Parent’s Allowance is a regular
    payment which you can get if:
    • your husband, wife or civil partner had
    paid enough National Insurance
    contributions, and
    • you have at least one child who you
    receive Child Benefit for, and you are
    under State Pension age, or
    • you are expecting a child with your late
    husband or civil partner (including as a
    result of IVF) and you were living with
    them immediately before they died.
    If the child is not living with you, but you
    are paying some of the costs of providing
    for the child, you may be able to get
    Widowed Parent’s Allowance.
    What to do after a death
     
    There are special rules when you and a
    child are living abroad or have recently
    returned to Great Britain. A Jobcentre Plus
    adviser can explain if you think this might
    apply to you.
    Widowed Parent’s Allowance stops when
    you no longer have a dependent child. If
    this is within 52 weeks of your husband,
    wife or civil partner dying, you may be
    entitled to Bereavement Allowance.
    You have to pay tax on Widowed Parent’s
    Allowance and it is made up of a basic
    allowance and an additional pension if you
    qualify to receive it.
    Bereavement Allowance
    Bereavement Allowance is a regular
    payment which you can get if:
    • your husband, wife or civil partner had
    paid enough National Insurance
    contributions or
    • their death was caused by their job, and
    • you were 45 or over but below State
    Pension age when they died.
    You cannot get Bereavement Allowance if,
    at the time your husband, wife or civil
    partner died:
    • you were divorced from them or your
    civil partnership had legally ended
     
    • you were living with a new partner as if
    you were married or in a civil partnership
    with them, or
    • while you were in prison or legal
    custody.
    How to claim bereavement benefits
    You do not make a claim for each benefit
    separately.
    You will need the death certificate of your
    husband, wife or civil partner. If the death
    has been referred to the coroner and an
    inquest could take some time, ask the
    coroner to give you an ‘interim certificate of
    the fact of death’ or a letter confirming the
    person’s death.
    You must claim bereavement benefits
    within 3 months of your husband, wife or
    civil partner’s death. However, you can
    claim for a Bereavement Payment up to
    12 months after your husband, wife or civil
    partner dies.
    Entitlements that may have changed
    You may find your late husband, wife or
    civil partner’s National Insurance
    contributions entitle you to new or
    increased benefits or entitlements.
    If you think this may affect other benefits
    that you already get, you must contact
    Jobcentre Plus.
    What to do after a death
     
    State Pension
    If you and your late husband, wife or civil
    partner were getting the basic State
    Pension when they died, you may be able
    to use their National Insurance
    contributions to get an increased amount
    of basic State Pension.
    If you were over State Pension age
    (currently 60 for a woman born on or
    before 5 April 1950, and 65 for a man)
    when your husband, wife or civil partner
    died, you may be able to get basic State
    Pension based on your own or their
    National Insurance contributions, or a
    combination of both, up to a certain limit
    (depending on your circumstances).
    You may be able to get some or all of your
    late husband, wife or civil partner’s
    additional State Pension – you may know
    this as State Earnings-Related Pension
    (SERPS) or State Second Pension.
    If you were both over State Pension age,
    you can get additional State Pension
    straightaway. The amount you can get
    depends on the date your husband, wife or
    civil partner reached State Pension age and
    the date they died.
     
    To find out more about your entitlement to
    State Pension, contact The Pension
    Service.
    Phone: 0845 60 60 265
    Textphone: 0845 60 60 285
    Open Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm.
    Website: www.thepensionservice.gov.uk
    Employment and Support Allowance
    If you are sick and have paid enough
    National Insurance contributions, you could
    get Employment and Support Allowance.
    Any bereavement benefit you get may
    affect the amount of Employment and
    Support Allowance you get, so ask
    Jobcentre Plus to explain this to you.
    If you have not paid enough National
    Insurance contributions to get Employment
    and Support Allowance and your husband,
    wife or civil partner has died, you could get
    special credits to get Employment and
    Support Allowance.
    To get special credits, you must be sick
    and must have stopped getting certain
    benefits for your husband, wife or civil
    partner who has died. You can’t get special
    credits if your bereavement benefit stops
    because you:
    • get married again
    • form a new civil partnership, or
    • start living with a new partner.
    For information on call charges, see page 70.
    What to do after a death
     
    Payments for bereavement in special
    circumstances
    Industrial injuries, accidents and diseases
    If your husband, wife or civil partner was
    disabled as a result of an industrial
    accident or disease that happened before
    they died, and was not getting Industrial
    Injuries Disablement Benefit, you may be
    able to claim it now for a period before
    their death.
    This includes if your husband, wife or civil
    partner died as a result of pneumoconiosis,
    byssinosis or one of certain other diseases
    which they got from work before 5 July
    1948.
    Do not put off making your claim or you
    may lose benefit.
    Armed Forces Compensation Scheme
    If your husband, wife or civil partner’s death
    was as a result of their service in Her
    Majesty’s Armed Forces, you may qualify
    for help under the Armed Forces
    Compensation Scheme.
    The scheme provides benefits for illness,
    injury or death caused by serving in the
    armed forces on or after 6 April 2005. For a
    death caused by service, a taxable
    Survivor’s Guaranteed Income Payment will
    be paid to the surviving partner. They
    would also get an extra bereavement grant
    for someone who died in their retirement.
     
    If your husband, wife or civil partner died in
    service and was a member of the Armed
    Forces Pension Scheme 2005, you may
    receive a lump-sum payment.
    To find out more, contact the Service
    Personnel and Veterans Agency.
    Phone: 0800 169 2277
    Textphone: 0800 169 3458
    Open Monday to Thursday 8.15am to
    5.15pm, Friday 8.15am to 4.30pm.
    Website: www.veterans-uk.info
    For information on call charges, see page 70.
    What to do after a death
     
    Help to bring up a baby or child
    Maternity benefits
    If you are pregnant, you may be entitled to
    Statutory Maternity Pay from your employer
    or Maternity Allowance from Jobcentre
    Plus. You may be able to get a Sure Start
    Maternity Grant from the Social Fund.
    Child Benefit
    If you are a parent you should already be
    receiving Child Benefit.
    If, after someone dies, you become
    responsible for bringing up their child, you
    should also be able to get Child Benefit.
    You should claim Child Benefit as soon as
    possible after you know you are going to
    become the child’s legal guardian. For
    more information contact HM Revenue &
    Customs.
    Guardian’s Allowance
    You may also be able to get Guardian’s
    Allowance if, after someone dies, you
    become responsible for bringing up their
    child.
    To get Guardian’s Allowance, you must be
    entitled to Child Benefit for the child.
    Normally, for you to receive Guardian’s
    Allowance both the child’s parents must be
    dead.
    HM Revenue & Customs
    Phone: 0845 302 1444
    Textphone: 0845 302 1474
    Website: www.hmrc.gov.uk
    For information on call charges, see page 70.
     
    But, you may be able to receive it if:
    • one parent is dead and the other can’t
    be traced or is serving a long prison
    sentence
    • the child’s parents were divorced or their
    civil partnership was legally ended, and
    the surviving parent was not awarded
    custody of the child, or
    • the child’s mother is dead and the father
    is not known.
    You can claim for Child Benefit and
    Guardian’s Allowance at the same time.
    If you have already made a claim for Child
    Benefit, make your claim for Guardian’s
    Allowance as soon after this as possible.
     
    Help if you do not have enough to
    live on or are on a low income
    If your husband, wife or civil partner dies,
    you may find that your income is reduced,
    and you may have difficulty making ends
    meet. You may become eligible for one or
    more types of support for people on low
    incomes.
    Tax credits
    Working Tax Credit is designed to help
    people who work but are on a low income.
    The amount you get depends on a number
    of things, such as your yearly income and
    the number of hours you work.
    To qualify you need to work over 16 hours
    a week. You might be able to get extra
    help if you are:
    • disabled
    • over 50 and you have recently gone
    back to work after being on benefit, or
    • working more than 30 hours a week.
    You don’t need to be responsible for
    children, but if you are you may also get
    help with some of your childcare costs.
    You do not have to pay tax on Working Tax
    Credit.
     
    Child Tax Credit is an allowance for people
    who are responsible for a child or young
    person. You can get it if you are
    responsible for a child who normally lives
    with you. You can only make one claim for
    each child.
    Whether you are entitled and the amount
    you might get depends on a number of
    things such as your household income,
    and the number and ages of the children
    you have.
    You claim tax credits from HM Revenue &
    Customs.
     
    Income Support
    If you cannot work over 16 hours a week
    and do not have enough money to live on,
    you may get Income Support. You must:
    • be under 60
    • have less than £16,000 in savings, and
    • work less than 16 hours a week.
    You may have to talk to a job adviser to
    see if work is an option, before you can get
    Income Support. For more information
     
    For information on call charges, see page 70.
    What to do after a death
     
    Jobseeker’s Allowance
    Jobseeker’s Allowance is the main benefit
    for people who are out of work. If you are
    eligible, it is paid when you don’t have a
    job and you are looking for work.
    There are 2 types of Jobseeker’s
    Allowance.
    • The first is based on how much National
    Insurance you have paid in the last 2 tax
    years. We can pay you this for up to 182
    days. It is called ‘contribution-based
    Jobseeker’s Allowance’.
    • The other is based on your income and
    savings. This is called ‘income-based
    Jobseeker’s Allowance’.
    For more information contact Jobcentre
    Plus or visit www.jobcentreplus.gov.uk
    Pension Credit
    If you are aged 60 or over, you may be able
    to get Pension Credit to top up a low
    income, even if you have a small amount of
    savings or investments.
    You can apply for Pension Credit by
    contacting The Pension Service.
     
     
     
    Housing Benefit
    Housing Benefit is money to help pay some
    of your rent and some service charges. You
    may be able to get it if you are on a low
    income and do not have a lot of savings.
    Whether you pay rent to a private landlord,
    a housing association, your local council or
    a hostel or guest house, you may still be
    able to get some Housing Benefit.
    Housing Benefit does not pay for interest
    on your mortgage, fuel costs (gas and
    electricity) and some service charges
    (depending on your circumstances).
    You are not likely to get Housing Benefit if
    you live with a member of your close family.
    Council Tax Benefit
    This is benefit that helps you pay your
    council tax. You may be able to claim it if
    you are on a low income and do not have a
    lot of savings.
    Council tax is the way that you pay for the
    local services your council provides. How
    much you pay depends on the value of
    your home. Usually, the person (or people)
    who own or rent the home are responsible
    for paying council tax.
    If you only want to claim Housing Benefit
    and Council Tax Benefit, you need to
    contact your local council. Their number
    will be in the phone book.
    What to do after a death
     
    If you are also claiming other benefits, you
    may need to make your claim through
    Jobcentre Plus or The Pension Service.
    Help with health costs
    If you are over State Pension age or you
    are getting certain benefits (for example,
    Income Support, income-based
    Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related
    Employment and Support Allowance, or tax
    credits), when your income is below a
    certain level you may be able to get help
    with health costs.
     
     
    Calls to 0800 numbers are free from BT
    land lines, but you may have to pay if you
    use another phone company, a mobile
    phone, or if you call from abroad.
    As at September 2008, calls to 0845
    numbers from BT land lines should cost no
    more than 4p a minute with a 7p call setup
    charge. You may have to pay more if
    you use another phone company, a mobile
    phone, or if you call from abroad.
    Calls to 0300 numbers from land lines and
    mobile phones are charged at your phone
    company’s national rate.
    Calls from mobile phones can cost up to
    40p a minute, so check the cost of calls
    with your service provider.
    Textphones
    Our textphone numbers are for people who
    cannot speak or hear clearly. If you don’t
    have a textphone, you could check if your
    local library or citizens advice bureau has
    one. Textphones don’t receive text
    messages from mobile phones.
    What to do after a death
     
    Important information about this leaflet
    This leaflet is only a guide and does not
    cover every circumstance. We have done
    our best to make sure the leaflet is correct
    as of January 2009.
    Some of the information may be
    oversimplified, or may become inaccurate
    over time, for example because of changes
    to the law.
    Jobcentre Plus is committed to applying
    the principles of equal opportunities in
    its programmes and services.
    Produced by Jobcentre Plus, part of the
    Department for Work and Pensions

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    Matt Walkden Will Writer

    About Matt Walkden

    I am a Professional Will Writer and I offer a small number of other products that complement my Will Writing such as Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPA’s), Fixed Price Estate Administration, often called Probate and some Property Products such as changing a family home from Joint owners to Tenants in Common.

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