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Legalities to consider when dealing with the death of a loved one

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Losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult periods in life. When faced with the death of someone close to you, paperwork is often the last thing on your mind – but while it’s important to take plenty of time to grieve and recover from the loss, there are various legalities that you must take into consideration, often immediately after the death. This is especially true if you’re the executor of a will, will be inheriting part of an estate or are planning the funeral. Let’s take a closer look at some crucial legalities to consider during this most challenging of times:

It’s never easy to say goodbye 

Whether you’re dealing with an unexpected death or the passing of a loved one following a long period of illness, it’s never easy to say goodbye. Losing friends and family can be amongst the most challenging things we deal with our entire lives – before you begin undertaking any legal necessities, ensure that you take some time to process the loss and grieve healthily. You can try to minimise the physical and mental symptoms of grief by focusing on the positives and setting yourself small, constructive targets for each day.

Registering the death

The first legal step you’ll have to take following the death of a loved one is registering their death and obtaining an official death certificate. It’s a legal requirement to register a death within 5 days of the person passing away, so prioritise registration at the top of your to-do list. Registering a death can be a traumatic process, so don’t hesitate to seek support from friends, family and medical professionals where necessary.

Planning a funeral

In the UK, most funerals occur within 2 to 3 weeks of death, so the next step to take after registration is to start funeral planning. Planning a funeral can be a costly and complicated process – you may decide to conduct the planning yourself or hire a professional funeral director. Depending on which option you decide to go with, you could be expected to pay funeral director fees, local authority burial or cremation fees and third-party costs or disbursements. If you’re planning to use a portion of the deceased person’s estate to pay for the funeral, you’ll likely need to apply for probate.

The will

Probate is the legal right to deal with a person’s property, finances and possessions (their estate) after they’ve died. If the deceased person’s will (which sets out their final wishes of how their estate will be divided and allocated) is ambiguous, seeking the help of specialist probate lawyers can help you gain a grant of probate and tie up any loose ends. If you’re designated as a legal representative (an executor or administrator) of the will, you may be responsible for paying off any accumulated debt, paying the relevant tax and selling any assets including stocks and shares. Don’t hesitate to seek professional assistance when it comes to reading and executing the will of a deceased loved one.


Photo by David Goldman on Unsplash



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