What to do when someone dies - new guide feedback

edited 30 May 2013 at 11:08AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
90 replies 43.7K views
Former_MSE_RoseFormer_MSE_Rose Former MSE
128 Posts
edited 30 May 2013 at 11:08AM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
Hi all,

We've written a new What to do when someone dies checklist to help those who are dealing with the death of a loved one, and it'd be great to get your feedback on the guide to help others through such a difficult time.

Please do share your experiences below, as well any tips to help others, or issues you've spotted. Are there any useful resources you've found along the way that have lightened the load, or anything you'd add to the guide? Just click 'reply' to post.

As a few of you have asked for a printable version, here's a quick way to print the guide:

1) Scroll to top of the guide.
2) At the top left, just below the green sign-up box, there's a small grey 'Print' button.
3) Click to print as normal (if you want the extra text inside the blue '+' dropdowns to print too, just scroll down the guide and click to open these before printing).

Thanks again for your help,

MSE Rose


  • MozartMozart Forumite
    1 Post
    I work for solicitors in Wills & Probate and keep meaning to design a form for people to complete to go with their wills or letters of wishes to say where and what all the websites they subscribe to are. There must be millions of unused usernames out there, where the user has died and no-one has known how or where to start. This also goes for emails, FaceBook etc.

    Oh well, that's blown my chance of becoming a millionnaire by designing a template! NOT a way to be a money saving expert...:cool:
  • RenyaRenya Forumite
    704 Posts
    From a non-financial side, I want to say thanks for this.

    My dad died very suddenly in December last year, he caught an infection which turned nasty and eventually into sceptacemia. I was 20 at the time (21 now) and it took me by complete surprise. My dad had always been open about the fact that one day he'd die but I didn't expect him to go so soon, my dad was my hero and my inspiration.

    I went through a very dark time after he died. I had suicidal thoughts and blamed myself for his death. As the months have gone on its gotten better but it's not easy, I often have flashbacks to seeing him in hospital, I held his hand as he took his last breath and that kills me.

    As my parents weren't married and the executor of his estate renounced, my mum is now applying for probate (the responsibility should be mine but as I'm going through my final year at uni my mum didn't want me to be distracted) and she sometimes finds it difficult, I've sent her this guide as I hope it'll help. When I saw you mentioned Cruse I became curious, strangely enough I'd never heard of them before but after looking at their website and researching my feelings online it's like a lightbulb has gone off in my head. To know that I'm not alone and it's okay to grieve has really lifted a weight off my shoulders.

    Thank you so much and I'm sorry for the essay.
    [STRIKE]Seventeen[/STRIKE] [STRIKE]Eighteen[/STRIKE] Nineteen(!) year old student - dim at the best of times
  • S_t_e_v_eS_t_e_v_e Forumite
    154 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 100 Posts Combo Breaker
    This guide would be great as a downloadable PDF.
  • lbeasantlbeasant Forumite
    4 Posts
    I have been helping my Dad sort out my Mums assets. Mum has several small pots of shares in various companies. I have discovered that moving them from Mums to Dads name can incur a charge of around £75 per pot of shares. However if you get a grant of probate you can then ask the share companies to transfer over the shares for free. This is cheaper than multiple share transfers.

    Also probate is no longer a scary thing as you don't necessarily have to go to court. As executor I filled in all the probate forms, sent them off and they returned another set of documentation that I could take to my local solicitor to swear the oath, get signed/stamped and then post back. This so much easier than what my husband did for his Mums probate. He had to take a day off to travel miles for a court appointment that was inconvenient to him. Not all estates will be appropriate for this method but simple ones like my Mum leaving everything to dad are.
  • phiwinukphiwinuk Forumite
    17 Posts
    My mother in law died a year ago so it was interesting to read this. I must congratulate you for what seems to be an excellent guide. I have had to go through such difficult times with my own family and it can be trying. In my case the estates were pretty simple, my M-in-L's is rather more complicated and I am amazed at how long it is all (still) taking. I lave the feeling that the legals could be done faster but they drag their feet and it will cost £k's.
  • Savvy_SueSavvy_Sue Forumite
    43.9K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    S_t_e_v_e wrote: »
    This guide would be great as a downloadable PDF.
    I agree, although one of its great values is being able to click on links, and the work involved might be more than you'd expect.

    I picked up a booklet at the hospital, when I got the death certificate, which probably covered the same basic ground (obviously without the :money: tips ...)
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • My wife and I owned our house under a joint tenancy and, as the guide says, after her death I automatically inherited it. However, what the guide doesn't say is that I needed to notify the Land Registry (using form DJP) to register the change in ownership of the property. I suppose it's obvious in retrospect but there's nothing to trigger you to do it at the time. It was only by chance and over a year later that a solicitor (who I was seeing about changing my own will) asked if I'd done this. It's really useful to have a checklist at such a stressful time but you're relying on it to be complete and this seems like a serious omission. This isn't a critcism of Martin's guide btw; I've never seen it in any guide on what to do when someone dies.
  • My partner of 18 years recently died but because we were not married or in a civil partnership I cannot claim for bereavement allowance which in this day and age is ridiculous especially as I was allowed to apply for the death certificate - only because I agreed to pay for the funeral!!
  • ewennyewenny Forumite
    7 Posts
    As an elderly follower of your esteemed website, i congratulate you on this advice: Many friends do not have a clue what to do on the death of a "near one".
    Not wishing to carp, i agree pdf or print of full page would be a help to us "oldies" who have less than perfect sight. Many thanks.
  • edited 29 May 2013 at 7:07PM
    csreadercsreader Forumite
    14 Posts
    edited 29 May 2013 at 7:07PM
    Three recommendations and one question:

    (1) I agree it's important to make a will. It's also important to review it regularly, say every 5 years. Family circumstances (and the law) change, and the will may need to change to reflect this. My father, a lawyer specialising in wills and probate, drew up his own will (not generally recommended!); but he never reviewed it, and it reflected an out-of-date state of the law when he died.

    (2) When making a will, NEVER make a solicitor the executor. (Nor a bank - even worse!) Get a family member or a friend to agree to do this. Of course the executor will often use a solicitor to help get probate on the will. But only the executor can bargain or complain about the charges for this. And if the solicitor is the executor, is (s)he going to complain? When the will is simple (e.g. "everything to my wife") it is possible to get probate without using a lawyer. When I did this I found the Which? book on wills and probate invaluable.

    (3) There is a legal process called a "deed of variation" which allows the family to re-write the will, so long as it's done within two years of the death. The major proviso is that all the beneficiaries must agree to it. This can make the will more tax-efficient. For instance, when a father dies, one of his daughters doesn't want to receive a legacy because it will mean her own estate will have to pay so much more inheritance tax in the future; instead she wants that legacy to be passed directly to her children (or be held for them, if they're young).

    And the question:

    In the section headed "Sort out inheritance tax" (IHT) you say "Anything above this [IHT-free threshold of £325,000] is taxed at 40%, reduced to 36% if 10% or more was left to charity". But is this 10% of the entire estate, or 10% of the amount by which the estate exceeds £325,000? I understand it's the latter.

    For example, if the estate value is £500,000 (after paying the debts), the part liable to IHT is £175,000, and 40% of this is £70,000; so the beneficiaries can share £430,000. If I'm right, the will needs to give only £17,500 to charities and the IHT becomes 36% of £157,500, or £56,700. The amount left for the non-charitable beneficiaries is then £425,800. So they are only £4,200 worse off and the charities have gained £17,500. (It's the Government/HMRC which has lost £13,300!)
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