Register a death
You must register a death within 5 days (8 days in Scotland) this includes weekends and bank holidays.
Before you can register the death you’ll need either a medical certificate (from a GP or hospital doctor) or permission from the coroner that you can register the death - if the death was reported to a coroner (Procurator Fiscal in Scotland).
Once the death is registered you’ll get
a ‘certificate for a burial’ to give to the funeral director, or
an application for cremation which you need to complete and give to the crematorium.
You must do one of these before the funeral can take place.
The government has developed a digital service that enables you to register the death online.
Check for the Existence of a Will
The National Will Register - Certainty
As an Executor or Administrator you have the legal authority, responsibility and duty to distribute the deceased’s estate correctly and could be held financially responsible for any mistakes made through any breach of duty.
To help avoid issues arising later in the process of distributing an estate during probate, it is important to identify whether a Will exists and who holds the most up-to-date version before any work is undertaken.
To help confirm the existence of a Will or prove the Will you hold, the Law Society recommend using Certainty the National Will Register to search nationally for registered and unregistered Wills.
As a legally endorsed and recognised best practice, Certainty Will Search offers great protection should a disgruntled beneficiary come forward after the estate has been distributed, and acts as proof that reasonable steps were taken to search for a Will or later Will before proceeding with distribution.
Arrange the funeral
The funeral can usually only take place after the death is registered. Most people use a funeral director, though you can arrange a funeral yourself. It is important that you check whether the deceased expressed any wishes for their funeral arrangements within their Will.
Choose a funeral director who’s a member of either:
These organisations have codes of practice - they must give you a price list when asked.
Notify Organisations of the Death
The Government Tell Us Once service will notify:
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) - to deal with personal tax (you need to contact HMRC separately for business taxes, like VAT)
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) - to cancel benefits, for example Income Support
Passport Office - to cancel a British passport
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) - to cancel a licence and remove the person as the keeper of up to 5 vehicles (contact DVLA separately if you keep or sell a vehicle)
the local council - to cancel Housing Benefit, Council Tax Benefit, a Blue Badge, inform council housing services and remove the person from the electoral register
Veterans UK - to cancel Armed Forces Compensation Scheme payments
Public sector pension schemes so that they cancel future pension payments.
My Civil Service Pension
NHS Pension Scheme
Armed Forces Pension Scheme
pension schemes for NHS staff, teachers, police and firefighters in Scotland
local authority pension schemes, except where Tell Us Once is not available
The Estatesearch Enhanced Notification Service (ENS)
Provides Legal Notifications from the authorised professional (the Notifier) to Financial Institutions, appending all necessary identification documents to allow the receiving party to take any necessary actions to safeguard the Persons interests, either for probate cases or for lack of mental capacity.
Each Legal Notification is date-stamped and recorded, should you wish to take recourse against any Financial Institution who failed to confirm they hold a profile for the Person when first requested.
Not to be confused with “The Death Notification Service” which only contacts a limited number of Financial Institutions (Members) subscribing to the service.
HM Revenue & Customs
Inheritance Tax is a tax on the estate (the property, money and possessions) of someone who’s died.
There’s normally no Inheritance Tax to pay if either:
the value of your estate is below the £325,000 threshold
you leave everything above the £325,000 threshold to your spouse, civil partner, a charity or a community amateur sports club
If the estate’s value is below the threshold you’ll still need to report it to HMRC.
Call HMRC for help with tax after someone dies.
Telephone: 0300 200 3300
Outside UK: +44 135 535 9022
Deceased Estate (Inheritance Tax) Helpline
Get specialist advice on a deceased person’s estate about Income Tax and or Capital Gains Tax
Telephone: 0300 123 1072
Outside UK: +44 300 123 1072
When someone dies you'll have contact with HMRC to sort out tax and benefit affairs. This easy to use online questionnaire can help you understand what steps are required
The guide is useful for anyone who needs to have a basic understanding of the steps to take when dealing with HMRC after a death. It gives a tailored guide with links to forms and more guidance. The questionnaire deals with Income Tax, Inheritance Tax, probate, Child Benefit and tax credits. It also gives guidance for any surviving spouse or civil partner.
What not included:
complex or very high value estates,
estates with overseas property or assets,
issues if the deceased was an employer, and
business-related issues such as VAT.
Search Probate Records
You can Search online for a probate record in England and Wales for people who died after 1857. Alternatively can search by post filling in form PA1S - Application for a search (copies of grants and wills).
If you’re an executor you can apply for probate yourself but it is recommended you use a a solicitor or another person licensed to provide probate services.
If you would like to Stop a probate application
You can stop a probate application (‘enter a caveat’), for example because there’s a dispute about:
who can apply for probate
whether a will exists
A caveat lasts 6 months.