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Bereavement support

Dealing with the financial affairs of a loved one when you're grieving is never easy. There are so many things to deal with and decisions to be made - but we hope the information on this page, and the help of our Bereavement Support Team will make things a little easier.

What to do first

Here are a few steps that need to be taken shortly after death. The hospital or GP involved may also give you advice on what to do first.

Register the death

When someone dies in England and Wales, you need to register the death at the registry office within five days (or eight days in Scotland).

It's better to go to the registry office in the area where the person died, or it might take longer to get the documents you need and this could delay the funeral. Here you'll be given the following three documents:

  • a certificate for burial or cremation
  • a certificate of registration of death
  • the Death Certificate, which will be a copy of the entry in the register - some organisations will ask to see the original Death Certificate, so it's a good idea to get several certified copies.

Find your local registry office in England and Wales

Find your local registry office in Scotland

Arrange the funeral

Funerals can be expensive, so unless there's a prepaid funeral plan, we'd advise you check there will be enough money to pay for it before you make any arrangements.

  • if the deceased has accounts with first direct, we will usually be able to release money from the accounts to pay the funeral bill (providing there's enough money in the accounts). If they have accounts with other banks or financial institutions, you can approach them to help with the funeral costs
  • if you're claiming benefits you may be able to get help with the funeral costs. Check with your Jobcentre Plus office as soon as possible as this will make it easier to plan the funeral
  • if the deceased was employed, a 'death in service' payment may be available from their employer and payments may also be available from a benevolent fund or pension scheme. The employer's Human Resource department should be able to advise the next of kin or executor(s) if this is the case.

Find out if there's a Will

  • a Will is important as it contains the last wishes of the deceased. The executor named in the Will holds the legal responsibility of dealing with the deceased's affairs. If you can't find a Will at their home, it's a good idea to ask their solicitor, bank, or financial advisor if they're holding it for safekeeping. If so, you'll need to establish whether the Will they hold is the last known version
  • if someone dies without making a Will, it's known as 'dying intestate' and it becomes the responsibility of the next of kin to administer their estate, according to strict rules. You can find out more below, and the Probate Services website can also help you with this
  • if HSBC are appointed as executors of the Will, you'll need to contact the HSBC Bereavement Support Team who will advise of the next steps.

Dealing with the estate

The personal representative(s) hold the legal responsibility of dealing with the deceased affairs and will need to:

  • apply for Grant of Probate and / or Letters of Administration. Grant of Probate isn't always needed - it depends on the value of the assets held with each organisation, and it's best to check with them. Letters of Administration are only needed if the person died intestate - without making a Will - and they give the holder the authority to administer the estate
  • value the estate
  • make an inventory of everything in the estate
  • settle any inheritance tax and other tax liabilities with HM Revenue and Customs
  • contact utility and insurance companies (ensure any property is insured)
  • collect all assets and settle any debts outstanding
  • sell any property or investments not needed for transfer to beneficiaries or joint owners
  • distribute the estate to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Will if there is one, or strict laws of intestacy if there isn't.

If you're a personal representative and feel you can't deal with this yourself, you can ask a solicitor to take care of some or all of it for you. Solicitors will charge a fee for this service so make sure you understand and agree before making a decision.

Alternatively, you can deal with the administration yourself. To find out more about what is involved and how to submit a personal application visit The Probate Service website.