Losing a loved one is never easy and can be one of the most stressful times of anyone’s life. Dealing with their affairs in the immediate aftermath can be equally daunting. Ben Holden, Solicitor at Donnelly & Elliott says “I am approached by clients on an almost daily basis bewildered by the enormity of the process. In the days and weeks following a death there is a general sense of being overwhelmed”. To help Ben has set out some basic steps to follow when someone dies:

1. Register the Death
When someone dies you will need to register the death at the Registrar for Births Deaths and Marriages. You should be given a medical death certificate by a medical practitioner and you will need to take this to the Registrar. The Registrar will then record the death and issue you with a number of copies.

Some deaths are referred to the coroner where the cause of death is unclear. Whilst an investigation is proceeding you will be issued with an interim certificate and once the investigation is concluded the coroner will register the death on your behalf.

2. Arrange the funeral
Before arranging the funeral you will need to check whether deceased had any wishes (e.g. buried or cremated). He or she may have had a policy or bond to cover the funeral costs. If not, you may need to check with their bank to see whether they have sufficient funds to cover the funeral fees. You should be absolutely certain that there is a means to pay the funeral. Remember, if you sign a contract with a funeral director you could be personally liable for the fees.

3. Seek legal advice
Getting legal advice is a must in all cases – even if the estate appears straightforward. At the very least you should establish whether there is a Will, the terms of the Will and the person responsible for dealing with the estate (known as the ‘executor’). There numerous rules concerning the payment of debts, beneficiaries, taxes, claims against the estate and land (to name but a few issues). Get it wrong and you could be held personally responsible to beneficiaries, creditors or the authorities (e.g. HM Revenue & Customs).

Your Solicitor will be trained, experienced and is obligated to keep up to date with the rules. A meeting or telephone call could make all the difference. At Donnelly & Elliott we offer no obligation consultations and a number a packages to suit everyone’s needs.

For further details and/or your free consultation please contact our Wills and Probate Team – Contact Us


When meeting with your solicitor you will likely be asked to bring the following

Death Certificate
Marriage Certificate
Title Deeds
Beneficiaries – name, address and telephone number
Life Policy documents
Last bank statement issued to the deceased
Share certificates
National Insurance Number
Pension Providers – Name, address and reference number
Funeral Invoice (if available)
Details of any loans

Ben Holden is a Solicitor, Director and Head of the Wills and Probate Department at Donnelly & Elliott Solicitors in Gosport. He has over a decade of experience in dealing with elderly client matters. Ben and his team pride themselves on taking the time to understand their clients’ needs whilst offering cost effective legal solutions.

As part of their commitment to excellence in this field, Donnelly and Elliott Solicitors are proud to be accredited members of the Law Society’s Wills & PrintInheritance Quality Scheme


Ben Holden is a member of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP) and a full accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly

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Date: December 2016
Donnelly & Elliott Limited Solicitors|38 Stoke Road Gosport Hampshire PO12 1JG |02392 505 500| www.gosport-solicitors.co.ukImportant Note: The above information is for general guidance and in part forms the opinion of the author. It is based on the law as at the date of this note. It should not be relied upon in part or in whole as a substitute for independent legal advice. If any of the issues raised in this article effect you please contact a member of our team.