What to do after the funeral
After a funeral has taken place, there may still, unfortunately be a number of practical things to be taken care of.
At first, this can seem a little overwhelming, so you may find it helpful to get a notebook and keep track of the tasks you’ve completed. You should also consider recording the date and time of every telephone call you make, or details of the emails or letter you receive.
This guide breaks down some of the things you may need to do in the weeks following the funeral, such as legal documentation, social media accounts, and arranging a memorial service.
Commence estate proceedings
The first step is to find out if your loved one made a Will and where it is located. It may be at your loved one’s property or their solicitor may have a copy. If there is a Will it will state who the executor is. The executor is the person who will be responsible for dealing with the estate. The estate is a term used to refer to the money, debts, possessions and property of the deceased.
In the Will, it will state how the estate is to be distributed.
If the estate’s worth is above a certain amount, the executor will need to apply for special legal permission before they can deal with the estate. This is referred to as probate.
If there is no Will or the named executor is not willing to act, you will need to decide who will sort out the deceased’s estate. This person will need to contact the Probate Registry to apply for Letters of Administration before they can deal with the estate.
Dealing with the financial affairs of someone who has died can be a lengthy process. For more information, we’d recommend visiting the Citizens Advice website.
Notify organisations and close accounts
In the weeks following the death, you need to start informing various organisations about the death.
Tell Us Once is a free service provided by the Register Office. The following departments will be informed through this service:
- Housing Benefit Office
- Council Tax Payments and Benefits Office
- Council Housing
- Blue Badges
- Adult Social Care
- Children’s Services
- Collection of payments for Council Services
- Electoral Services
- Department for Work and Pensions
- Child Benefit
- Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit
Identify and Passport Service
- Passport cancellation – you will be required to return the deceased’s passport if they had one.
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
- Driving Licence cancellation – you will be asked to return the deceased’s driving licence.
If the Tell Us Once service is not offered by your local authority, you will need to notify those departments separately.
Other organisations you need to inform
Most people will have direct debits set up or contracts with finance companies, it’s important to notify these companies so they are able to take the necessary steps e.g. terminate the contract, close the account, transfer ownership or settle any debts.
- Banks and building societies
The Death Notification Service has been created to allow you to notify a number of banks and building societies at the same time.
Banks and other institutions will normally only take instructions from an ‘executor’ (the person appointed in the Will to carry out the deceased’s wishes) or ‘administrator’ (if there is no will, the deceased’s next of kin).
- Insurance companies (home, car, travel)
- Credit card providers
- Pension provider
- Mortgage provider or their landlord if they rented a property
- Utility companies if the accounts were in their name
- Mobile phone companies, TV and internet providers with which the deceased had subscriptions
- Medical services including their GP, dentist and optician
It can be difficult to identify all of the organisations to contact, so it is worthwhile going through all of your loved one’s paperwork to find out who they had accounts with.
While only the executor or administrator can access sensitive financial information, anyone can help with other administrative tasks, you should not be afraid to ask other relatives for help.
You may need official copies of the death certificate when dealing with these companies.
It may also be a good idea to redirect their post by filling in a special circumstances form and taking it to your local Post Office. The Post Office will need to see a copy of the death certificate or proof of power of attorney. This will help you identify any organisations you may have missed.
You can also stop unsolicited post being sent to someone by registering with the Mailing Preference Service (MPS) and the Bereavement Register for free. You’ll need to get in touch with companies directly to stop receiving unwanted post that the deceased signed up for.
Dealing with social media accounts
It’s unlikely social media accounts will be a priority following the loss of a loved one, but is something you may want to consider in the weeks and months following their death. Something as simple as a Facebook notification reminding you of their birthday can cause a great deal of stress for you and those around you.
When it comes to handling their social media accounts, you can delete their accounts, memorialise their accounts or leave their accounts as they are. Some platforms do have rules on how long an account can remain inactive while staying on the site, so if you do choose to leave the account as it is, it’s a good idea to download any photos or anything else you want to keep.
Deleting social media accounts after a death
To delete a social media account you will need to contact the social media site, they’ll normally require a copy of the death certificate along with proof or your identity and relationship with the person who has died. Deleting a social media account permanently removes it and all of the information and photos on it, so you should be sure to download and save everything you want to keep.
Memorialising social media accounts after a death
A few social media sites will allow you to ‘memorialise’ an account. This will usually mean that the account remains open for you to visit and post messages to, but will be made more private and state that the person is deceased. When an account has been ‘memorialised’, the social media site will also stop sending out updates on their birthdays and other anniversaries.
Memorialising a social media account is usually as simple as contacting the social media platform with either a death certificate, a death notice or an obituary. Not all social media platforms will you allow you to memorialise a person’s profile.
The requirements for each platform may vary slightly, so it’s best to contact the provider when you feel up to it, for specific instructions.
Although not strictly a social media site, you should also consider closing your loved one’s email account.
Arrange a memorial service
The main difference between a memorial and a funeral service is that a memorial takes place without your loved one’s body present. A memorial service is an opportunity for friends and family to pay their respects at a time and place away from the funeral.
Many families choose to hold a direct cremation, followed by a memorial or a celebration of life.
A memorial may take place some time after the funeral, allowing more time for planning and preparation, and allowing relatives who may have been unable to attend a funeral at short notice, to attend. This will also allow you to hold the memorial with your loved one’s ashes present should you wish.
A memorial can be held anywhere; at the family home, a local community centre or church hall, a religious place of worship or even in the outdoors, at your loved one’s favourite park or beach.
There is no formal structure to a memorial service. As with a funeral service, people can participate in many different ways including sharing memories of the person who has died, reading prayers, singing songs or playing a musical instrument. You may want the focus on the joy and laughter your loved one brought to everyone’s lives rather than the sadness of their death.
If you are yet to arrange a funeral for your loved one, contact us for more information on our low cost funerals. Our helpful team of telephone-based funeral arrangers will be able to assist you every step of the way and answer any questions you may have.