Suffering the loss of a parent is one of the most traumatic times in a person’s life. Everyone will respond differently and the way they feel or respond may not be as they’d expect. In the early days, especially if the death was sudden or unexpected, shock can take hold. This pain can be physical as well as emotional. It can be immensely difficult to process all that is going on and even tougher if any of the responsibilities of dealing with the death fall on you. It’s a time for families to come together and support each other as best as they can. These are the steps that you will need to navigate.
The Registering Process
Firstly, the death must be registered within 5 days. To do so you will need a medical certificate or written permission from a coroner, along with some personal details of the individual. You can find the address of the nearest register office online or in a phone directory. A certificate for burial or an application for cremation can then be provided – these are necessary for the funeral to take place.
The funeral is a poignant part of the process and one that marks the passing in a significant way. When a loved one dies, the family may be unaware that they had a funeral plan in place. If you are not sure, the Funeral Planning Authority has a plan tracing service where they contact all their registered providers. This can save digging through paperwork and bank statements. If a plan is in place, then the decisions about the process are likely to have been made already. If not, you will have to find a local service provider. A good one will be able to guide you through all the things you need to do.
You may well know if your parent had a will, and you will be able to contact the executor if this isn’t you. An executor can apply for probate to start dealing with the financial affairs of the will-holder. If you don’t know the details of the will, you should see if there is a copy in their home, or contact their solicitor or bank.
If there is no will, you will need to decide who will apply to handle the estate, and they will need to contact the probate registry. It is good to get the process of probate started as it will take somewhere between 6 and 12 months before it is completed
It’s a difficult enough time without all the paperwork on top, but there a number of organisations that will need to be informed.
- Government authorities
Although you have registered the death, you will need to notify any relevant government authorities – the Department for Work & Pensions, HMRC, the DVLA etc. This involves gathering all the important personal information and documents of the deceased including their national insurance number, passport and the details of their closest relatives
There is a Tell Us Once service operating in many areas of the UK. This allows you to provide the documents and details just once and they will pass the information on to all organisations. But if this not available to your location, the government website has a list of who you need to contact.
- The Bank
You’ll need to contact the bank your parent used – in person, by phone or by completing a form. If they had multiple accounts you could use the Death Notification Service, which many of the large institutions have signed up to, allowing you to complete one form to notify them all. If you don’t know their banking details, then bank and credit cards in their wallet will give you a good idea, or they may have files and details stored at home.
Other companies that will need to be informed include the utilities – gas, electric and water, and insurance companies – car, home and life. You may need to contact a landlord, and you may wish to inform certain friends or more distant family members.
Dealing with grief
Grief can often be overwhelming and disruptive. There is no standard response or right or wrong way to feel or act and no time frame that fits all; it can be unpredictable. Allow yourself to accept this. Lean on your family and friends, and seek out support whenever you need it. If the weight of your grief is too much for you to cope with then get in contact with your doctor and they will be able to advise you on support groups, or counselling services that could help. Don’t shut yourself away all the time. Things will get easier.
This is likely to be a very difficult period. But there are many support networks and places for advice and information such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau for more practical matters or Bereavement Advice for emotional support. Take all the support you need and take your time.