Coronavirus Universal Credit & Benefits
14 May 2021
It's tough enough to know what to do when someone dies – and that's even before bureaucratic and financial issues. This checklist features crucial tips to make things easier and ease the load after someone's died. If you're planning for the future, see our Death Happens guide for tips to help minimise financial trauma for loved ones.
While every effort's been made to ensure this article's accuracy, it doesn't constitute legal advice tailored to your individual circumstances. If you act on it, you acknowledge that you do so at your own risk. We can't assume responsibility and don't accept liability for any loss which may arise as a result of your reliance upon it. Huge thanks to Withers LLP, Laytons LLP, The Natural Death Centre Charity and Age UK.
If someone's in a life-threatening emergency, call 999 immediately. The St John Ambulance website also has info on what to do if you're with someone who is unconscious and not breathing, including how and when to resuscitate.
When someone dies at home, you should call their GP immediately. If this isn't possible, call an ambulance. If the death was in a hospital or hospice, tell the doctor.
If the death was expected, the doctor should issue a medical certificate with the cause of death. You should also call their nearest relative as soon as possible (if that's not you).
Police may also arrive if it was an unexpected death – don't worry, it's a normal part of the process. For unexpected deaths, or if the person didn't see their GP within 14 days of their death (28 days in Northern Ireland), the doctor or police will report the death to a coroner, an official who looks into sudden deaths to help find out why they happened.
If the death's reported to the coroner (or procurator fiscal in Scotland), they'll investigate and may ask for a post-mortem (a medical exam carried out after death) or an inquest. When this happens, the funeral might need to be put back while it's completed, so be prepared for this.
If a post-mortem needs to be carried out, the body may be taken to a hospital mortuary, or a public mortuary linked to a coroner's office. For this, the coroner will arrange with a funeral director to transport the body there.
Once the post-mortem's completed, and no further examination's needed, it'll usually be kept there until relatives or funeral directors make arrangements for it to be taken to an undertaker's mortuary or elsewhere for visitors to pay their respects, or taken home.
It's worth noting that once the post-mortem's complete, you aren't under any obligation to use the same funeral director that the coroner used to transport the body. Funeral director quotes can vary hugely – see funeral director tips below.
How long the post-mortem takes varies widely, depending on the circumstances. Don't worry though, the usual requirement to register the death within five days (eight in Scotland) doesn't apply here. See Gov.uk or Scottish Govt for full info.
Once you've done all you can and are waiting for medical help or family to arrive, try to keep calm. Some find keeping busy with simple practical tasks can help. Call a friend or relative for support, and take things gently. The death of a loved one is a huge trauma that will take its toll, even if you aren't feeling it now.
For support from other Forumites who've been through it themselves, see the Death and Grief forum discussion. It's free to join – feel free to share your own thoughts and feelings if it helps.
The shock may also affect your memory down the line, so dig out a notebook and pen. Keep it handy to note down any key info the doctor gives you, or any important details later on.
Many hospital mortuaries will allow you to keep the body there until the morning of the funeral. If no post-mortem's needed, it can be kept at home, at an undertaker's mortuary, or elsewhere for visitors to pay their respects until the funeral.
If you choose to keep the body at home, your local community nurse or doctor may be able to help with preparing it. You can also contact the Natural Death Centre Charity for advice on how to do this.
If they were religious, it's also worth noting some religions have their own rites. For example, in Judaism the body is never left alone. Contact your local chaplain, rabbi, imam or priest for guidance – they'll have done this many times before.
If they died in hospital, the hospital will automatically check if they were on the Organ Donor Register, so don't worry, you don't need to do anything here. Sadly, deaths at home or outside of hospital don't qualify for organ donation.
This needs to have been formally arranged with a scientific institution before the person's death. So if this wasn't the case, you won't be able to donate the body to medical research after they've died.
Even if the person did make arrangements for their body to be donated after their death, institutions can still turn down bodies if there have been complications. So it's sensible to always have a fallback plan for a burial or cremation, just in case.
It's easy to forget about this, but check in case they were the sole owners of any pets at home. If you're unsure, check with close family and friends. Neighbours may be able to help with this too.
Pets can be left to others in a will, but they'll still need to be looked after, even if just until other arrangements can be made. Relatives and friends may be happy to take them in, but if not, contact your local RSPCA branch.
If the person lived alone, don't forget to ensure the house is safely locked with all windows closed properly. Sadly, empty houses can be a magnet for burglars, so it's important to check it's secure as soon as you can.
Cancel any daily newspaper or milk deliveries – ask a friend or relative to help with this if you don't feel up to it.
After someone dies, if their home insurance was only in their name, sadly the cover becomes void. But if the policy was in joint names, it will still cover the surviving policyholder (though the names on the policy will need to be updated).
If the policyholder has died, you may be able to get an extension or grace period for cover to continue, perhaps for a week or so, while new arrangements are made.
This is at the discretion of the insurer, so if you're concerned about the property being left empty without cover, speak to the home insurance provider as soon as you can. See the Home Insurance guide.
If you're a named driver, you're unlikely to be covered if the policyholder passes away – if the policy was in their name, it becomes void after they die. Speak to the deceased’s provider as soon as possible, explaining the situation, to gain a bit of time to make new arrangements.
If it has a grace period where cover's continued while you make other arrangements, remember to check how long this is for. See Cheap Car Insurance.
When you lose someone close to you, it's likely you'll go through a huge range of emotions, often including shock, pain, and anger. These are all a normal part of the grieving process. Look after yourself – you and your family are most important.
If you're struggling to cope with it all, several places offer grief counselling, which can make a huge difference. Gov.uk has a handy search for bereavement services near you, and charities Samaritans and Cruse Bereavement Care can help. The Age UK website also has useful info on where to get extra support after a bereavement.
Talk to your doctor if you're having trouble sleeping, and accept help where it's offered. One Forumite notes:
As someone who has lost their husband, acknowledge it will be stressful and be kind to yourself. It's a powerful force which can knock you for six. Take things slowly and one day at a time, an hour at a time if you need it.
This is a key point to keep in mind throughout the tasks to come. With a funeral to organise, family and friends to tell, and other organisations to notify, make sure you aren't taking on too much at an already stressful time.
Don't feel that you need to sort everything yourself. Share tasks between family and friends if you can. Is there a friend who can sort food for the wake, or a family member who could help phoning relatives? If so, ask if they'd mind lending a hand.
This can be a huge help in taking the pressure off, and the extra hands will help keep costs down. It'll also help others who are grieving feel useful too.
Before you, or anyone else, start tackling the finances of someone who's passed away, there are key practical and emotional steps to take. As well as telling relatives and friends, several other parties will need to be told.
Of course, exactly when you do these is up to you – immediate family will need to know before long-lost cousins. Again, don't feel you have to do it alone. Other relatives or close friends can help here too. Draw up a list of those who need to know, and divide it between you to ensure you don't overlap.
Firstly, wait until you feel strong enough. Then sit down with a cuppa and start working through the checklist.
It's a tough process, so take it gently. Just do as many as you feel you can, and take breaks when you need them. Several organisations will need to be notified too (see more below), but this can come later. The immediate list to tell includes:
A dependant here is a husband or wife, partner, child, parent, a friend or family member who lives with you but doesn't pay rent, or someone who relies on you to care for them (an elderly neighbour, for example).
You can't finalise the funeral date until this has been done, so it's an important step. You'll usually need to do this within five days in England, Wales and NI, or eight days in Scotland – though this doesn't apply if the death's reported to the coroner.
If you don't feel up to going alone, ask a close friend or family member to come along for support.
To do this, go to the register office for the area where the death happened – use Gov.uk to find it. You may need to book an appointment, so it's worth phoning first.
You'll need the medical certificate of the cause of death, as well as other info, such as their date of birth. A relative will usually need to register the death, if possible, but others are allowed to do this in some circumstances.
There's a useful Gov.uk tool to help you find exactly who can do it, and what documents are needed, for where you are in the UK. The registrar will then give you a certificate for burial or cremation, and a certificate of registration of death (often known as a 'death certificate').
In some areas, you can use the Government's Tell Us Once service to report the death to most Government organisations in one go, including council tax, benefits, passport and driving licence info. Not all councils do this though – check if yours does when you're registering the death, as they'll need to give you a number to use for this.
When you register the death, you'll also be able to buy copies of a death certificate. This is an official copy of what's on the death register, often needed as proof by companies and financial institutions, such as banks and insurance firms.
These are generally about £4 to £10 each when registering the death, depending on your area. But this goes up to about £7-£15 if you want more copies at a later date, so it's worth buying as many death certificate copies as you'll need now to avoid paying extra down the line – typically you'll need around five.
As this'll be useful for sorting out their financial affairs later, including the will, consider getting several to save you having to wait for the original to be returned each time.
Sadly, in many cases (especially if you're self-employed) you'll end up out of pocket if you've had to take time off work due to your spouse's death.
If you're the surviving husband, wife or civil partner, you may be entitled to Government bereavement support to help with costs. If you don't feel up to applying on your own, ask a friend or relative to help.
If your late husband, wife or civil partner died in the last 21 months, you may be able to get a lump sum payment, followed by up to 18 monthly payments.
You'll be eligible for bereavement support payment if:
The amount you're entitled to depends on whether or not you're receiving child benefit:
Bereavement support payment won't affect your other benefits for a year after the first payment. If you are still receiving the payment after a year, this may affect your eligibility for other benefits.
Gov.uk's Death and Benefits section is also worth a visit to check if you're entitled to any other financial help. For example, you may be able to get widowed parent's allowance if you were widowed before 6 April 2017, you're below state pension age and have at least one child who is a dependant.
See our Benefits Check guide to see if you're entitled to other help.
Before you start planning the funeral, check if there's already a financial funeral plan in place. This is where a burial or cremation's already been arranged and paid for. This will be useful as it may cover some of the cost, or they may have even paid the venue ahead of time. Their next of kin (if this isn't you) is likely to know if there's a funeral plan.
If you can't find a plan but think they may have made one, you can use the Funeral Planning Authority's Trace Your Plan form, which will check whether there is a plan in place with any of its registered providers. You could also check in case a copy has been put with their other financial documents, written into their will (see check for a will below), left with their solicitor or bank, or even check with local funeral directors, or older friends.
Even if they don't have a copy of the funeral plan, just the name of the designated funeral director or funeral planning firm should be enough for you to contact them for more details. To help, you can find a list of most funeral planners and contact details on the Funeral Planning Authority website.
Do check if they'd also written down their general preferences for the funeral, such as whether they wish to be buried or cremated, types of flowers and the service they'd like. Again, this may be with the will, but also check with family and friends for a factsheet, or similar document with their wishes in.
Funerals generally take place within the first week or two. So when you feel strong enough, it's worth starting to think about what's needed. A few points to consider:
There's no need to use a florist if you'd prefer not to. Many use simple bunches of flowers from their own garden, or from the deceased's garden. As well as being MoneySaving, it helps to make the day more personal, and it's better for the environment too.
Funeral directors can provide help with the practical aspects of a funeral. This could include moving and preparing the body, taking care of the paperwork or helping you arrange a service. You don't have to use a funeral director, but if you decide to, get a decent range of quotes if you can, and check exactly what's included.
It's entirely understandable if you don't feel up to doing this at such a difficult time, so ask a close friend or family member to help.
Funeral director fees can vary hugely. On top of unavoidable costs such as cremation or burial fees (known as 'disbursements'), the Natural Death Centre charity told us funeral directors can charge between £400 and £2,500+ for their services. This usually includes the coffin – but always check when getting quotes.
The Gov.uk site recommends checking a firm is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors, the National Federation of Funeral Directors or SAIF (Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors). They have codes of practice and must give a price list if you ask.
Not all undertakers are members, though; you can also find listings and reviews at the charity-run site Funeral Advisor.
If hiring a funeral director, don't assume the dates they're free will match up to the dates your chosen funeral venue is available. Always check before you book.
A final point here – don't be pressured into spending more. Forumites report some funeral directors can suggest costly extras which bump up the price. There's no shame in stating you're on a budget from the outset and asking for a basic funeral. Don't be afraid to say no to pricey add-ons. One Forumite reports:
I asked what the difference was between the funeral at a few thousand and the one at £800, they admitted NONE! Same things, same cars, same people.
We opted for this and it was a lovely and dignified funeral. Don't let yourself be bamboozled into thinking you have to spend thousands at a sad time.
A funeral's a huge financial transaction, yet it's entirely understandable many won't be in a fit state to think about cost at such a difficult time. So ask a friend to help with any quotes and getting prices down if you can – show them these tips to help.
The average cost of a funeral is about £3,700. Yet it'll vary depending on the area, any extras, and how much family and friends are able to do.
It's a hugely personal choice, but which is the most cost effective depends on where you are, and what options you go for. Don't assume cremation's cheaper – in some areas crematoria fees are greater than burial fees, so check with the council.
Here is a breakdown of the costs:
To give you an idea of burial fees, the Natural Death Centre charity tells us burial plots vary hugely from about £200 to £20,000, depending on area. Grave preparation fees vary from about £150 to £500, plus there are fees to put up a memorial stone, local authority burial fees, and any extras (known as 'disbursements'), as well as the cost of a coffin.
As a rough guide, basic cremation fees if you go direct are generally £250-£800, but it varies depending on the area and options such as the time of day. Unless the coroner's involved, you also need two doctors' signatures for cremation, which costs about £160. You'll also need to factor in coffin and any memorial stone costs too.
Funeral directors will charge their own fees on top, yet you don't have to use these if you'd rather organise it yourself. The Natural Death Centre says many crematoria will help families directly, particularly if council-owned, though they may be less keen if the crematorium's owned by a private company or funeral director.
If you don't feel up to organising a cremation directly yourself, but don't want the extra expense of a formal ceremony, a 'direct cremation' is another option.
For these, a company will collect the body, cremate it and return the ashes for about £1,000 (some funeral directors also offer this service, though it's likely to cost more).
It doesn't include a memorial ceremony or celebration of the person's life, so it leaves you free to organise this separately in your own time at a later date, when you feel ready.
You can find listings and reviews of funeral directors at the charity-run site Funeral Advisor, or search online for companies that offer direct cremations near you. You can also contact your council's cemeteries and crematorium department directly to arrange cremation. See Gov.uk to find yours and check costs in your area.
Though most people tend to use a funeral director to transport the body to the funeral, there's nothing stopping you from doing this yourself if you wish.
There are no restrictions on transporting a body within the UK unless you're crossing the Scottish border – in this case, you'd need to contact the coroner or Procurator Fiscal first. If you're moving the body yourself, it's worth taking the doctor's certificate with you in case it's needed. Rosie Inman-Cook from the Natural Death Centre says:
Hospitals and nursing homes have no right to stop you from removing a body. Some poorly-trained staff don't know this, and may say only a funeral director can remove it. But the next of kin has a right to do this if they wish.
It's a good idea to start looking for a will in the first week if you can. It may have useful info on their burial or cremation wishes, as well as any details of a funeral plan.
1. The husband, wife or registered civil partner of the deceased (but not their unmarried or unregistered partners).
2. Their children (if aged over 18) or if their children are deceased, their children's descendants (for example, grandchildren, if they are over 18).
3. The deceased's parents.
4. The deceased's brothers or sisters with the same mother and father, or descendants of the brothers or sisters.
5. Their half-brothers or half-sisters (who had either the same mother or the same father) or their descendants.
6. Their grandparents.
7. Their blood uncles and aunts (brothers and sisters of the deceased's parents, as long as they had the same mother and father as the deceased), or their descendants.
8. Their half-uncles and half-aunts (brothers and sisters of their parents who had only the same mother or father), or their descendants.
9. The Crown (the state) if there are no relatives.
If someone dies without making a will, they're said to have died 'intestate'. Without a will, distributing assets is trickier, but there's a system to help. Hopefully, it'll be sorted out among family members, but if not, there are rules on this to help (see assets info).
If you can't find a will, ask their solicitor (if they had one), as well as checking with their next of kin. Otherwise, check with the Probate Registry to see if the will was registered there (it costs £10). If you have a solicitor, it's also worth talking to them for help.
When someone dies, if they had any outstanding debts to settle, or any assets to distribute, someone else will need to take charge.
Banks and other institutions will normally only take instructions from an 'executor' (a person appointed in the will to carry out the deceased's wishes) or 'administrator' (if there's no will, the deceased's next of kin):
If there's a will...
The person(s) named in it as 'executor'
If there's no will...
An appointed relative, known as 'administrator'
The executor or administrator is the person authorised to distribute the deceased's assets, so they'll need to sort out their finances. If you're the executor or administrator, you may need to apply for a legal document, known as a grant, to prove this.
The grant is a document that confirms you're authorised to deal with the deceased's property, money and possessions. You can use it to show you've the right to access funds, sort finances, and share out assets as needed.
It may not be needed if the estate passes to the surviving spouse or civil partner because it was held jointly, and doesn't contain land, property or shares. To apply and for more info on the process, see Gov.uk.
If none of the executors named in the will are able to apply, or if an executor isn't named, contact your local Probate Registry for advice.
Don't worry if you don't feel up to doing this straight away. Helpfully, you don't have to apply within a specific time limit. See Gov.uk to apply.
That said, starting this process as soon as you can will help you get things in order sooner. It'll help you meet any inheritance tax deadlines needed later on.
If inheritance tax is due, at least some of it must be paid before your grant will be issued, then in most cases you've six months to pay it in full (see Inheritance Tax info). Most big banks have arrangements to send cash from the deceased's bank account directly to HMRC to cover this. See HMRC for how to arrange it, plus further help.
Once you've done this you'll have 'obtained probate', the term for when someone successfully applies to deal with the estate.
If you're the executor or administrator, you'll need to sort official affairs, distribute assets, and pay and recover debts. It'll take a bit of organisation, so keep track of who you've told as you go along.
While only an executor or administrator can access sensitive financial info, anyone can help with other administrative tasks. It helps share the load, and keeps other relatives involved too.
We've put together a list of some of the main organisations to contact. They won't all apply to everyone, but they'll help you make a start:
In some areas, you can use the Tell Us Once service to report the death to most Government organisations in one go, including those dealing with council tax, benefits, passports and driving licences.
Not all councils do this though – you'll need to have checked if yours does this when registering the death, as they need to give you a number to use for this. Once you've got this number, you can use Tell Us Once online (Northern Ireland has a similar bereavement service). Otherwise, organisations to notify include:
One Forumite's tip to help when you're contacting companies:
Always ask for the 'death department' – most have dedicated advisers when calling about a departed. This is really useful as they treat you sensitively and help you do what needs to be done. Get a name would be my advice.
If the deceased had contracts for subscriptions such as TV, phone and broadband, whether you can cancel any outstanding payments depends on the contract.
Your best bet is to get in touch with the company directly, let them know of the death and ask the company to cancel the contract. Put it in writing if you can.
This won't always work, but it's worth a try. If the company accepts it, the contract should simply be cancelled, with nothing further to pay. If it doesn't, the remaining payments may need to be taken out of the deceased's estate as a debt, if there's enough left (see pay off debts).
Robin Paul of Withers LLP says: "Whether you can cancel depends on the contract. The legal position is that contracts will carry on against the estate. But in practice, most will cancel if asked (the potential publicity if they didn't would be unattractive if nothing else!) Contact them ASAP, and cancel what can be cancelled.
"Don't forget, the deceased's bank will have cancelled all direct debits and standing orders. So if contracts are to run on, other payment arrangements will have to be made."
Even if you've login details for someone who's passed away, it's likely you'd be in breach of the website's terms by using them, which could get you into trouble legally.
Always go through the proper channels to notify the organisation, and get permission to gain access to online accounts where you need it.
It'll take a little more time, but it'll help to avoid future complications.
There are several crucial, difficult financial decisions to make after the death of a loved one. Yet it's an emotional time, so don't make snap judgements – wait until you have a clear head.
Remember, you're not alone. Several places offer extra help. If you have a solicitor, use them to help you with big financial decisions.
Before money, possessions and property can go to inheritors, any debts and tax need to be paid.
Debts will normally need to be paid, but only if the deceased had money left. This includes mortgages, loans, credit and store cards, hire purchase agreements and any other commercial debt.
If all the deceased's assets pass to their surviving partner there may be no money left in the estate to pay any debts, which could mean they're written off.
However, creditors can apply for an 'insolvency administration order' within five years of the death. This can legally divide any property or assets that automatically pass to a surviving partner, and force a sale.
So first, try to come to an agreement with lenders, and try to pay them yourself if absolutely necessary. This is a complex issue, so again, discuss it with a solicitor or the Citizens Advice.
If the deceased has any commercial debts or cash owed to them, or was in credit on their bills, the executor or administrator needs to recover this money.
This can then be added to the estate, meaning there'll be more available to pay any outstanding debts or go to beneficiaries. Sadly, if there's no written agreement, it may be tough to recover non-commercial debt.
Julia Abrey from Withers LLP says: "How easy (and enforceable) this is depends on what evidence of the debt can be found. If you think the deceased made a loan, but no paperwork comes to light, check their bank statements for large unidentified payments.
"Bear in mind, of course, these may not be loans – they could be gifts, or even money the deceased spent on themselves."
If you can't find all the deceased's bank, building society or savings accounts, website My Lost Account can find out where they held an account, though it can take up to three months to trace. There are also sites that can help you trace lost pensions and investments too. See the Reclaim Forgotten Cash guide for a full how-to.
Life insurance (also known as level term life assurance) usually pays a lump sum to the spouse or family after the insured person dies. So if the deceased had a life assurance or mortgage life assurance plan, call the provider to let it know they've passed away, and to start the claims process.
If you've got any info on the policy, make sure it's to hand when you call, as the policy number and details will help to speed up the process. The provider will then let you know what paperwork's needed to formally put in the claim.
If you don't have the policy details, don't worry. The provider should be able to trace details of the plan through the policyholder's name, date of birth and address. It'll also need to see the death certificate to validate the claim, so be prepared to send this through.
How long it'll take to come through depends on the circumstances. As a rough guide, it can be anything from a week to several months if the insurance company feels it needs to investigate further. The Marie Curie website has advice about how to make a claim on a life insurance policy.
If you're the executor or administrator, you'll need to sort out any inheritance tax (IHT). This is paid on the estate if, after debts are settled, it's worth more than £325,000 (and there aren't any other exemptions that need to be applied – see HMRC for more).
Anything above this is taxed at 40%, which reduces to 36% if 10% or more of the post-IHT value of the estate was left to charity.
This normally needs to be paid within six months from the end of the month when the person died. You can defer tax and pay in instalments on some types of assets, including land, some shares and the value of any business owned (not the assets).
It's worth noting that if assets are being transferred to a surviving spouse or civil partner, no inheritance tax will normally be charged. The rules on this are complex, see HMRC for help. The Inheritance Tax guide also has useful info on how the system works.
Once debts and taxes are paid, you'll need to work out the total value of the deceased's assets, known as their estate.
Bank accounts can be added up relatively easily, but property may need a proper valuation to work out what it's worth. Insurance payouts after death may count as part of the estate, depending on the policy, so factor this in.
Gifts given by the deceased within seven years of their death may need to be taken into account, as well as assets they had an interest in (for example, if they gave property to their kids but lived in it rent-free). See Gov.uk for more on how to do this. Again, this is complex, so get professional advice to ensure you get the right figure.
Inheritance tax and property are a slippery pair. This is where problems arise as, unfortunately, in some cases you may be forced to sell the family home.
If the deceased and their spouse or civil partner owned the home under a joint tenancy, the surviving partner automatically inherits it (it doesn't pass under the will).
This means the surviving spouse or civil partner can continue living there with no inheritance tax to pay.
If it's a joint ownership but the owners weren't married or in a civil partnership (or covered under another exemption, see HMRC), it'll be liable for inheritance tax.
If the surviving joint owner and the deceased each own a portion of the property (eg, a half or a third), they're 'tenants in common' and the deceased's share passes under their will.
Again, if it passes to the surviving spouse or civil partner (or is covered under another exemption – see HMRC for details) it's exempt from inheritance tax. Otherwise, it will be taxable.
A tenancy in common may mean debts have to be paid out of that portion. A creditor would find it more difficult to claim debts out of a share of the home under a joint tenancy, but in some circumstances it will be possible. So in either case, negotiate with any creditors to avoid having to sell.
Free debt help counsellors can give one-on-one advice. See the Debt Help guide.
Unless you're covered under one of the inheritance tax exemption rules (see HMRC), its entire value will count towards the estate when working out the inheritance tax. Be prepared – in the worst case you may have to sell the property to raise funds for the tax bill or other debts.
Remember, if debts aren't paid a creditor can force a sale to recover money owed, so try to negotiate with them first.
Note that inheritance tax on a property can be paid in instalments, as the Government recognises it's tricky to raise cash on property quickly. So if you can afford to pay 10% of the tax on the property a year for 10 years, this could be a lifeline to help keep it.
Inheritance tax rules can be very complicated, so you may want to speak to a tax adviser if you can afford it. You can use the Chartered Institute of Taxation's Find a Tax Adviser search. For more help, see the Get free tax help section of MSE's Tax Codes guide, and see Gov.uk for more info.
Once you've gone through all of these steps, you'll be pleased to hear there's only one big financial task left to tackle – share out what's left of the estate.
Here, whatever's left once all debts and taxes are paid needs to be distributed. If there's a will, this should be simple as it should state where any remaining assets go.
If there isn't a will, the assets are distributed under the 'rules of intestacy' (though the beneficiaries can agree among themselves to re-distribute it as they wish).
Generally these mean that if the deceased was married or in a civil partnership with an estate worth £250,000 or less, everything goes to the husband, wife or civil partner (this is known as 'succession' in Scotland and different rules apply, see the Scottish Government).
There's a complex set of rules around this depending on the surviving relatives, the amount involved and which part of the UK you're in.
These rules mean non-married partners or those not in a civil partnership might not be entitled to anything, though – see below.
If you weren't married or in a civil partnership, sadly you won't automatically get a share of the estate. If they hadn't provided for you in another way, you've the option to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 in England and Wales.
Other dependants may also be able to claim under this too, see Gov.uk to apply. It's worth seeking legal help if you want to do this, or if any family disputes arise – see the Citizens Advice for help.
The Deaths, Funerals and Probate forum board is a useful resource for sharing your thoughts and getting support from others who've been through this before.
Whether you want help with funeral flowers, probate or the sale of property, the forums are well worth a visit. Plus if you've any tips to pass on, share them in the What to do when someone dies forum discussion.
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