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What to do if a loved one dies – part two

When a loved one dies, there are practical tasks that need to be done while you plan the funeral. The following checklist details the various things that you will need to do:

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Arranging the funeral

Although your loved one cannot have a funeral until the Death Certificate and the Certificate for Burial or Cremation are issued, you can start to make the funeral arrangements at any point after the loss.

These documents are needed before you can proceed with the funeral arrangements. Only after the funeral director is shown these documents can the funeral service take place.

Be aware that copies of these documents may be needed when dealing with your loved one’s estate. Duplicates are available from the registry office or from a national registration office, but charges do apply and vary.

A third document – the Certificate of Registration of Death – may be issued if your loved one was receiving a state pension or any benefits. This form should be filled out and mailed inside the prepaid envelope that comes with the form. This form does not need to be seen by the funeral director and will not affect the funeral arrangements.

Your funeral director will be able to discuss any concerns or answer any questions you may have about the funeral service.

What to do when someone dies in a hospital

When a loved one passes away in a hospital, their doctor will verify the cause of death and issue you with the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. Usually, this document is given in a sealed envelope addressed to the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, who will register the death and give you the Death Certificate.

What to do when someone dies at home or in a nursing home

If the death was unexpected, you should call the emergency services immediately on 999. After asking some initial questions about your loved one, they will inform you whether they are sending a doctor or a paramedic to verify the death.

Alternatively, if the death was expected, the emergency services don’t need be called. Instead your loved one’s GP should be contacted as soon as possible.

In cases where your loved one had recently been examined by a doctor, the GP may be able to issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. Otherwise, the GP will inform your loved one’s doctor, who will verify the death and issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death.

What to do when a child dies

If your child or baby has passed away, you must register the death in the same way as you would for an adult. However, there may be other things to consider as well, especially if you are receiving benefits, tax credits or other financial help.

If you are claiming Child Benefit, you need to inform the Child Benefit Office as soon as possible that your child has passed away. Even if you opted out of receiving Child Benefit, you still must inform the Child Benefit Office.

Child Benefit payments will usually continue for eight weeks after the date of death, unless your child would have had their 20th birthday before the eight weeks are up. In this case, you will stop receiving Child Benefit the following Monday.

If you have lost a newborn baby, you can still receive eight weeks of Child Benefit if you make a claim within three months of them passing away. If your child is stillborn you cannot claim Child Benefit.

Losing a child may affect any tax credits you are currently claiming. You must tell the Tax Credit Office within one month of your child passing away. If you do not inform them within one month, you may have to pay back overpayments or you may not receive all the money you are entitled to. You can continue receiving tax credits for up to eight weeks.

If you lost a newborn child before claiming tax credits, you can still make a claim. Call the Tax Credit Office helpline to find out more about making a claim. You will not be able to claim tax credits if your child was stillborn.

Child Trust Funds

If your child has passed away, the money in their Child Trust Fund account, including government payments, will be given to whoever inherits their estate. This is usually the parents or, if they were married, their spouse.

The Trust Fund’s registered contact can also withdraw money if the child is terminally ill. You will need to provide evidence that your child is terminally ill.

Note: Whilst we take care to ensure Talking Finance content is accurate at the time of publication, individual circumstances can differ so please don’t rely on it when making financial decisions.