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When someone dies - Carers UK Forum

When someone dies

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
Should we have a section of hints and tips on what to do when someone dies? I've now lost 4 relatives and would like to pass on some of the things I've learned, often the hard way!
That is a very good idea, and I think you have just started it off without realising.

Our registrar was well organised with a folder of who to contact after mum passed away and there was nothing too difficult to deal with.

I did spend ages trying to stop a pension payment as the company it was originally with had been taken over, and over, and over. It was only 8 quid per annum, but it took three years to get that sorted.

Often family doesn`t realise that the person phoning the undertaker in the first instance following a death is legally responsible for the entire funeral cost. My Dad was caught out in 1960 with this when his mother died, none of his family chipped in their share and more recently our nephew had to pay all his mothers funeral as the other three siblings wouldn`t pay their share. They wanted all kinds of extras but not willing to pay for it.

Take care
Ouch, I didn't know that the first person who rang the undertaker was liable either! What a dumb idea. I found out that the funeral bill could be paid by a bank holding the deceased money BEFORE the rest of the will etc. was sorted out. We just had to send the bank the bill and it was all sorted. That IS a good idea. My husband also had a policy that had been taken over repeatedly. It was worth quite a lot of money and so I was dismayed when my letter to them was returned "Unknown at this Address"!! Fortunately thanks to Google I found them easily, but anyone not on the internet would have struggled. My main tip would be to get six copies of the death certificate. Then write a brief general letter along the lines of " I regret to advise you that my husband XXX born XXX of xxAddressxx died on xx at xx. Please find enclose a copy of the death certificate for you to record. Please return it to me in the enclosed sae." Start with the most important people to tell, banks, insurance, tax etc. then when the certificates are returned you can send them off with driving licence, passport etc. I didn't do this with the first death I dealt with. Believe me, walking up and down the High Street with a certificate going to banks etc. is the very worst job ever - to be avoided at all costs. Jill
This is a very good thread, it is so difficult dealing with everything when you are emotionally drained.
My tip would be to find out about Probate.
When we lost Dad, he left a will and we thought everything would be sorted out quickly by his solicitor.
How wrong we were.
The solicitor dragged their heels, then reailsed that we needed a grant of probate in order to sell the house.
We had a buyer but our hands were tied for 12 weeks waiting for the probate to be obtained and as the funeral was being paid for from the house sale, the Funeral directors were getting a bit huffy waiting for their money (we paid what we could from Dad's savings, but that didn't even cover half of it).
We knew nothing of the legal aspect and were ill informed to begin with.
It took me much longer than that for probate to be granted, over a year in total. The problem was that my husband died when he was self employed. A large part of his business involved restoring vintage lorries, he had 8 tons when he died. This left a problem regarding stock valuation, no ordinary valuer would touch it with a barge pole. I wanted it professionally valued so that the tax man didn't come back at a later date and say I hadn't valued it properly. In the end I had to pay for a specialist valuer and auctioneer to drive 100 miles to value the stock. It was, however, a very good idea, even if it cost £400, as in the end he saved me a lot of money. One thing that did surprise me though. A local business, which we had dealt with for 40 years, rang me up enquiring about payment with indecent haste after the funeral, wanting to know if, and when, I would be paying. It was under £100 that I owed!!!
Age Concern UK do a very good booklet entitled "What to do When Someone Dies" - you can either pick up a copy from one of their charity shops or apply for a copy online. It lists all the statutory bodies that you have to inform and gives lots of useful information.

Also if you google "what to do when someone dies" you'll get a link to the DirectGov website which is also very helpful.

And beware of naming Solicitors as Executors of your will - they will hang out the process as long as they can to charge you a fortune for the priviledge ! I was Executor for my Dad and it really wasn't as bad as I thought it would be as everything was left to Mum anyway - I got probate very quickly as we went in person to the Probate Office and they helped us with the forms. Dad also had an insurance policy that paid out immediately to cover funeral and other immediate costs. Mum also has a 'funeral plan' insurance policy that she set up years ago and which will pay her funeral costs when the time comes - the premium on similar policies available today cost around the £2K mark for a simple funeral, but are well worth it as they mean your 'heirs' have one less thing to worry about.
Organ donation.I am not going into whether it is right or wrong, but it is a VERY emotional issue.My late son was an organ donor, but nobody asked us whether we wanted to donate his organs and we were in complete shock. A few hours later we did think of it,and phoned the hospital.His death was sudden, so there would be a postmortem and permission had to be given for organs to be used, but his eyes and heart valves were able to be harvested(nicer word than retrieved).Unfortunately they had infection, so were unable to be used for donation,wchi has torn me apart. Not immediately, but over the long term. Rhys had beautiful eyes, his body was not complete when he was in his coffin.
We also never told our elder son that his brother's eyes were being taken.He has Downs Syndrome and we had no idea how it might affect his emotions. Our daughter was in full agreement with us about this.
Organ donation may soon be an opt out system, but that does not allow for emotions. I talk to bereaved relatives who have heard from their loved one's donor recipients, those who have not heard from them and those like me who tear themselves apart because their loved one was mutilated unnecessarily.We all feel the same agony.I talk to one lady whose son was not expected to live, but he was given a heart transplant and a new chance of life. (Her son was a man in his 20's)..She cried through the surgery, thinking of the other family who were suffering now,because their loved one had died.
I know this is not a practical essential, but it is something that matters a lot to me and to manyI have talked to, so thought it worth sharing.(By the way, my husband is a recipient of a donated cornea many years ago, so we have lived both sides of the story).
My husband wanted to be a donor, but he died in his sleep and I did not know until the following morning - he'd been fidgeting so I went to sleep in the spare bedroom that night. Unfortunately, because he'd been dead a few hours, he was apparently unsuitable for donation. I felt that this was a great shame, but something out of my control.
Can I suggest that this thread is made into a sticky, therefore ensuring it stay at the top of the board?

It really is a brilliant idea Jill, for example I have absolutely no idea what probate is and these are all issues that I will need to face in the not too distant future.

I will have to sell mum's flat (ex-council property), she is a leaseholder and I don't even understand what that means let alone know how to go about selling a property.

There are so many issues (not just of the type that I have raised) that we can exchange with each other, more so because this is a safe environment. I feel more comfortable talking about death here then I would anywhere else. I know it must be hard for LD and others but do you feel this idea is helpful for us all?
I was widowed 5 years ago, at the age of 54, so I didn't know any other widows the same age. Now I've discovered Way Up, specially for widows and widowers over 50. It's great knowing that there are others the same age as you, who are either facing, or have faced, the same problems. It's also helpful to have different views on the same subject.

I would really like to see this as a separate section on the index, but as a newcomer I don't know how to even ask for this to be done. Hopefully an administrator will read this and advise.

The most important thing to remember after a death is that there is no hurry. Allow yourself time to grieve and get your head round what has happened. Just eating and sleeping is enough for a while after the funeral has taken place. Send off copies of the death certificates with a simple covering letter, and make a note of when you sent them. Start with the Benefits Agency, who should then tell the tax office for you. Then the solicitor is there is one, and any life insurance companies. Put all the relevant paper in a ring binder, and only look at it a bit at a time, but be sure to do one thing each day, so slowly you will get to the bottom of the pile. When the certificates are returned to you, there will be a covering letter telling you what to do next. Death is the only certainty in life. Whilst we feel awful at the time, remember that for those receiving the certificates it is an every day matter for them, that is what their job is all about. They should help you through the process. If you know that a relative is increasingly frail, then I would suggest that this is the stage to go to the library and look at a few books dealing with what to do when someone dies. Then you can quietly introduce into the conversation where important documents are kept, the solicitor etc. etc. Remember than an elderly person will themselves have tidied up affairs of their parents and relatives. If there is a will and a solicitor has been consulted previously, it's a good idea to see a solicitor to ask what you need to do next. Most of the work is simple and straightforward which most people can do themselves, as outlined above. Depending on the size of the estate, and the number of beneficiaries of the estate, probate may, or may not be needed - which is why I suggest a solicitor is involved at an early stage. The loss of a relative is always painful, at whatever age, and coming to terms with the situation takes time. I was stunned when my husband died of a heart attack, a big, fit, strong man. The process of dealing with the paperwork is painful, hence my suggestion that one thing a day was enough, however dealing with the paperwork helps you adjust to the situation. Well meaning people may want to take it away from you, for whatever reason. The same applies to emptying the wardrobes etc. Done slowly, at your own pace, with an enormous box of tissues handy, is, in the long term, very therapeutic. Others may have different opinions, and I look forward to reading them.