As part of Dying Matters Awareness week, we will be posting daily blogs illustrating the life of a executor of an estate.
When a person passes away it is always a very difficult time and the legal procedures can be daunting, especially for someone who has not dealt with them before. In this blog we explain the initial matters that should be dealt with.
Registering a death and arranging a funeral
The first matters which to attend to when someone dies are the registration of the death and the arranging of the funeral.
In most cases a relative should register the death, but if a relative is not available then a person present at the time of death or the person in charge of making the funeral arrangements is able to register the death.
First of all you will need to arrange an appointment with a Registrar. You must take the medical certificate showing the cause of death, which will be signed by a doctor, with you to that appointment. In some cases, it may not always be possible to obtain the Death Certificate immediately, for instance if there has been a Coroner’s Inquest; and in this case it may take some time before the death can be registered. If this does occur, then the Coroner will issue you with an interim death certificate.
In order to register the death, you will need to know the full name of the deceased, any previous names, their date and place of birth, their last address, occupation and the full name and occupation of the surviving or late spouse.
When you register the death, the Registrar will give you a ‘green form’ which is to be passed to the funeral director (unless the coroner has been involved). Generally the paperwork authorising the funeral will be completed by the funeral director however the forms required will depend on whether it is a burial or cremation.
Arranging the Funeral
The funeral can usually take place after a death has been registered. The first step is to choose a funeral director who you feel comfortable with and with whom you are confident will deal with matters in a sensitive and professional manner.
Once you have instructed the funeral director, they will then arrange the funeral and will discuss with you the type of funeral the deceased wanted. Often a will may contain funeral requests and so it is important to locate a will as soon as possible (see below).
Finding the Will and notifying insurance companies
Often the person who has died will leave a will which is a legal document setting out who is legally entitled to deal with their estate (the personal representatives), and also who is to benefit. If someone does not leave a will, the rules of intestacy state who will inherit and who can be appointed personal representative.
Ascertaining whether or not there is a Will is therefore crucial in understanding who will have legal responsibility for the assets of the deceased. Wills are often stored with a solicitor and so enquires should be made with any law firm that the deceased had previously dealt with. Wills are also frequently stored at home and such it may be necessary to conduct a search of any papers stored at the deceased home.
Finally, the personal representatives should contact any insurance providers to inform them of the deceased’s death. This is especially important if any property has been left vacant as a result of the death.
At AWB Charlesworth Solicitors, we have a specialist team of private client lawyers who advise clients in relation to Wills, the formation and administration of trusts, planning for and dealing with issues of incapacity, the administration of estates and inheritance tax planning. For more information please contact Jenny Barron on 01756 692866.
14 May 2018