A really valuable guest post to read now, despite the difficult topic, it is worth knowing more what we all have to face at some point and perhaps preparing more to make that process easier for others in the event of our own death.
The death of a loved one is one of the hardest of human tragedies to bear. Even if someone has been ill or suffering for a long time, nothing seems to prepare us for the horrible shock of losing them. Each individual reacts in their own way to bereavement and there is no “one size fits all” solution to the engulfing waves of sorrow and loss. In time and perhaps with sensitive counselling, the pain does gradually subside and life does go on.
The Immediate Aftermath
For many relatives, the first days after a sad loss are a maelstrom of unexpected bureaucracy. There is an astonishing amount of legal and administrative paperwork, in conjunction with the preparations for and holding of a funeral service. All of this can be intensely traumatic as it involves the winding up of the deceased person’s affairs. The first piece of documentation that needs to be obtained is a death certificate and certified copies of it should be made. It will be required in order to terminate or transfer bank accounts, credit cards and other commitments and will be needed to release funds from pensions and other investments. The Jobcentre will also require a copy if the deceased was recipient of any benefits, including a state pension. This must be registered within five days and will entail going along to the Registry of Births, Marriages and Deaths in the sub-district of the area where the death occurred. You will need the medical certificate of cause of death, which the attending doctor will have signed.
What Happens at the Registry Office?
Here you will also receive a Certificate for Burial or Cremation. This gives permission for the body to be buried or for a cremation to be requested and will need to be handed over to the funeral director. The registry office will also hand out some useful leaflets about bereavement benefits and income tax implications for widows and widowers or surviving civil partners.
Before you start dealing with the deceased person’s assets, possessions and property it is vital to establish whether or not they have left a valid will. It may not be in an obvious place. For example, they may have left it at a solicitor’s office or handed it to their appointed executor. If the value of the estate is small (under £5,000) it may not be necessary to go through with applying for grant of probate, but in all other circumstances it is necessary.
Grant of Representation
If you are entitled to handle the affairs and you are a named executor, you may apply to the Probate Registry for authority to proceed. There are three types granted. Executors are given a grant of probate. When there are named executors but they are unwilling or unavailable to act, a letter of administration (with will annexed) is given. When there is no valid will (also called intestacy), a grant of letters of administration is issued.
It is a complex and upsetting business and one that takes a toll on the grieving person’s health and well-being. For advice and further information you might find it helpful to look at the government’s website.
Commissioned guest post
Picture Credit – funeral flower 1 by nabger, on Flickr under Creative Commons llcence.