Sharing the news that your friend or relative has died is one of the most difficult and immediate responsibilities. If the person who has died has nominated you as executor, you will be responsible for sorting out their property, and carrying out the instructions in their will. This includes notifying friends and family, as well as formally notifying a number of people and organisations.
Make a list
It is worth sitting down and trying to make a list of everybody you need to tell. Not only will this make it easier to keep track of what you have done, but you may be able to share some of the responsibility with friends or family. Some organisations won't be able to take instruction from you until you have the death certificate, and possibly proof that you are authorised to act on behalf of the estate of the person who has died.
Some of the people you are likely to need to contact are:
- their banks and/or building societies
- utility companies, who provide their home with gas, electricity and water
- their landlord if they are renting and are named on the lease
- the Department for Work and Pensions to stop their pension or any other benefits they may have been receiving
- their pension provider if they had a personal or work pension in addition to their state pension the local council, to sort out issues like council tax and any help from social services they may have been receiving
- HM Revenue and Customs so they can work out any tax issues
- the DVLA to return a driving licence, cancel car tax or return car registration documents/change ownership
- car insurance company, particularly if you are a named driver on their policy as the policy may well have lapsed from the date of death
- any companies that you think owed money to your friend or relative or were owed money by them
- the nearest Regional Passport Office or Newport Passport Office.
In England and Wales the 'Tell Us Once’ service allows you to notify key local and central government departments of a death via a single appointment with your local registrar, over the phone or even online.
If ‘Tell Us Once’ is offered through your local authority, once you have registered the death, you will be offered the service. A member of staff will explain how it works and which departments will be notified. Tell Us Once will then notify them on your behalf and will provide you with a confirmation letter.
The Money Advice Service has a helpful web page with a complete list of the official organisations and authorities you need to notify in the first weeks following a death, and how soon you need to contact them. There are also template letters for you to use when you’re contacting everyone.
A solicitor is sometimes nominated as executor instead of a friend or family member, and in this case they can arrange for the relevant parties to be formally notified of the death.