Helping you with bereavement

Grieving the death of a loved one is incredibly difficult. It can be tough to know what to do and how to cope - and that’s without the administrative and financial aspects.

To help you during this challenging time, we have put together a practical guide covering all the steps you need to take following the death of a family member or close friend. The information below should enable you to organise the financial affairs and help to ease the pressure of the bereavement process.

Registering the death

You are required to register someone’s death within 5 days in England and Wales. This is done at a registry office and it’s best to go to the one in the area where the person died. You’ll be able to locate it here.

A relative will usually need to register the death but others are allowed in certain circumstances. You’ll need to take the medical certificate on the cause of death and have their date of birth to hand. More information on this and what documents are needed can be found here.

The registrar will then provide you with all the necessary documentation to progress the funeral arrangements which includes:

  • Certificate for burial or cremation
  • Certificate for registration of death (often referred to as the death certificate)

As an official copy of what’s on the death register, the death certificate is often required when informing companies and financial institutions about the deceased. It’s worth paying to get more than one copy because many organisations will ask to see an original before they can help you.

Many registry offices offer the government’s Tell Us Once service. This notifies various government departments of the death in one go. Not all local authorities do this though so check if yours does as they’ll need to give you a number to use for this.

Checking for a will

It’s a good idea to try and locate a will as soon as possible. It may contain useful information about the deceased’s burial or cremation wishes as well as any details of a funeral plan.

The executor of the will is also named in this document. This is the person responsible for dealing with the estate (which comprises their property, money, debt, businesses, insurance and pensions.) In addition, a will sets out who’ll get any assets that are left by the deceased.

If the will can’t be located or if someone dies without making a will, an administrator will be appointed to take the same role. This is usually the role of the closest living relative. The government offers more on this here.

Without a will, distributing assets is more difficult but there’s a system to help. This sees the estate distributed according to the law of intestacy, which determines how the estate should be divided and shared and will differ depending on where the person lived.

Notifying us

If the deceased is a Furness Building Society customer, please notify us as soon as possible and we’ll freeze the account. We’ll let you know what information we require and what will happen next. You can send us what we need through the post or by visiting your nearest branch.

Before any amendments can be made to our records, we’ll always need:

  • The deceased’s name, address and date of death
  • Your name, address and contact details
  • Original copy of the death certificate

Depending upon the type of account and balance held, we may require additional documentation. We’ll advise you of what we need when you notify us of the death.

Arranging the funeral

Sometimes people include funeral instructions in their will so check this first. You may also choose to use a funeral director to help you with the necessary decisions. It may be worthwhile meeting with more than one as it’s important you trust them and you’re comfortable with their suggestions. Please remember that funeral director fees can also vary so bear this in mind during your discussions.


Paying for a funeral

Before you start planning, check if there’s already a financial plan in place as this will mean the burial or cremation has already been arranged and paid for. If you can’t find a plan but you think they might have made one, you can use the Funeral Planning Authority’s Trace Your Plan, which will check if one is in place with any registered providers.

It can be difficult to cover funeral fees and it’s likely you may struggle to consider cost at such a tough time. Here are a few tips to help with pricing:

  • Check the basic fees - find out the funeral, burial or cremation costs in advance and make sure you have the money before you add on anything else.
  • Set a budget - when you know the basics, you’ll be in a better position to consider any desired extras such as flowers, music etc and budget accordingly.
  • Get financial assistance - these can be covered by the deceased’s estate, insurance or friends and family may contribute.

Contacting relevant parties

You’ll need to think about who needs to know, in addition to family and friends. This includes any organisations the deceased had a relationship with and it may take a bit of coordination.

To help you, we have pulled together a list of the most common companies you’ll need to contact:

  • Solicitors
  • Banks or Building Societies
  • Employer
  • Mortgage provider
  • Credit card providers
  • Store card providers
  • Utility companies (gas, electricity, water, telephone and broadband)
  • Email and social media platforms
  • Membership clubs and groups
  • Insurance companies
  • Pension providers
  • Royal Mail
  • Doctor and Dentist
  • Government departments (DVLA, HMRC, Passport Office, DWP and local authority)

Dealing with inheritance tax

Inheritance tax may be applicable and if you’re the executor or administrator, you’ll need to look into this. Inheritance tax is a tax paid on the estate if, after any debts are settled, it’s worth more than £325k. For more information on this, visit the HMRC website.

Next steps

Do you have any questions? You may still want to speak to us and our team is here to help you. Please get in touch by visiting us in branch or giving us a call on 0800 834 312.

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