It's always hard when someone close to you dies. While you're in the midst of grief, managing everyday matters and making significant financial choices can appear overwhelming. We’ve put the following information together to help and support you through this process and our specialist team are here to offer further support and advice if you need it.
Step by step guide
There’s a small number of things that must be done as soon as possible after somebody has died. Below you’ll find guidance on the initial steps that you may need to take, starting with officially registering the death.
Step 1: Register the death
When someone passes away their death must be registered. If you go to a register office in the area where the person passed away, you’ll be given the documents you need on the same day. If you choose a register office in a different location, then the documents may take longer. You can find your nearest register office in the phone book or online at View - GOV.UK. You may need to make an appointment.
You need to register the death as soon as possible, but timescales vary depending on where you live. For up-to-date information for your area, visit View - GOV.UK. You'll need the doctor's certificate and possibly supporting information, such as a birth or marriage certificate. If in doubt, check with your local register office before attending. The register office will give you a death certificate. Most organisations, will need to see original documents, so you may want to ask for extra copies (the register office charges a small fee for this).
Step 2: Arrange the funeral
Once the death has been registered, you can arrange the funeral. You may already know what sort of funeral the person wanted, or there may be instructions in the will or in other papers, like a prepaid funeral plan.
Organisations, like The National Association of Funeral Directors and The National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, can provide you with funeral directors who have to abide by codes of practice and high standards of service.
Step 3: Obtain the will
A will contains the last wishes of a person who has passed away, in particular about who they want to inherit their estate. You'll need to find the last known signed and witnessed version of the will. If you can't find a will at the deceased's home, it's a good idea to ask their solicitor, bank, or financial adviser if they have it. A will usually names one or more executors who will be responsible for dealing with the administration of the deceased's estate.
What if there isn't a will?
If someone passes away without making a will or you’re unable to locate a signed will, they are said to have passed away 'intestate'. The law on who will inherit the estate will vary depending on where the deceased lived and in some circumstances, their religion.
To find out what to do if there is no will left in England, visit View - GOV.UK. There you'll find a simple online tool that takes into account the deceased's situation and guides you to the correct information. In Scotland, different rules apply – to find out more visit View - GOV.SCOT.
Step 4: Letting us and other organisations know
We're here to offer you all the support we can. There are various ways that you can contact us.
If you decide to call us, we will need the following details so it would be helpful to have the information to hand:
- A policy or account number
- National Insurance Number
- Full name, date of birth, address and date of the person who has died to update the correct policy
- The name and address of the surviving spouse/representative so that we can send documentation to the right address
Notify us of a bereavement for annuities and fixed term retirement products
Call us on 0345 766 0813 or if you are dialling from overseas 01737 375 151 (lines are open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm).
If you're not ready to talk just yet, you can start the process by writing to us.
Please complete our PDF file: Bereavement notification form PDF size: 83KB and then send it to:
PO Box 809
Notify us of a bereavement for lifetime mortgage
Please call our customer services team on 03330 048444 (lines are open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm). They will talk you through the process over the phone.
If you're not ready to talk just yet, you can start the process by writing to us.
Please complete our PDF file: Legal & General Home Finance bereavement notification form PDF size: 52KB and then send it to:
Legal & General Home Finance
PO Box 17225
Once you've notified us, we'll then be able to confirm the next steps, including what documents we need to see and any forms that need to be completed.
Step 5: Deal with the estate
Anyone responsible for dealing with the estate is known as a 'personal representative'. A 'personal representative' can be an individual or an appointed solicitor. If there is a will, this is anyone named as an 'executor'.
If there is no will, this is the immediate next of kin, or someone else appointed to administer the estate (the 'administrator'), visit View - GOV.UK for more information.
What does a personal representative have to do?
- Make an inventory of everything in the estate and work out the total value
- Calculate and settle any inheritance tax and other tax liabilities
- Apply for probate, if required
- Sell any property or investments that the will doesn't specifically transfer to someone else
- Collect all assets (such as shares and investments) and settle any debts, including mortgages and loans
- Distribute the estate to the beneficiaries
- If you’re the personal representative, you can decide whether you want to: deal with the estate yourself; or appoint a solicitor or specialist probate service to do some or all of it for you.
Depending on the value of the estate and who it is left to, you may have to pay inheritance tax. There's normally no inheritance tax to pay if:
- The value of your estate is below a certain threshold
- You leave everything to your spouse or civil partner, a charity or a community amateur sports club
- Generally, some or all of the inheritance tax must be paid before probate is granted. This is normally paid by the personal representative, using money from the estate.
- If there isn't enough money available in the account to pay the inheritance tax, you can get further information from the View - HMRC website.
The personal representative is also required to settle other taxes such as income tax and National Insurance for the person who has passed away. Contact HMRC and they'll tell you what to do. For more information: View - GOV.UK.
Frequently asked questions
What if the person who died had a lifetime mortgage?
Once you have notified us of the death we will ask you to send us various documents so that we can update our records.
Where the mortgage is held in joint names and there is a surviving borrower who still lives in the property, we will transfer the account into the sole name of the remaining borrower.
If the last remaining borrower moves out of the home and into long term care, the lifetime mortgage will need to be paid.
How do we repay the lifetime mortgage and what are the options?
We realise that this may be a difficult time and for this reason, we allow a 12-month period to enable the Estate to repay the lifetime mortgage. Please be aware that interest will continue to be charged until the mortgage is repaid.
The lifetime mortgage is usually repaid from the sale of the property; however, the property does not have to be sold if the lifetime mortgage is repaid by other means. If the property is going to be sold, we ask to be notified and advised of the selling agents so we can keep in touch and offer any support you may need during the sale process.
Where Inheritance Protection has been taken out, the Estate will retain at least the protected percentage amount.
Once the lifetime mortgage is repaid, our Legal Charge on the property is removed at the H.M Land Registry.
Support and guidance
During this difficult time you may need some additional support and guidance. There are several organisations who can offer you help.
Free help and advice
View - Age UK website
Citizens Advice Bureau
Free legal advice and support
View - Citizens Advice Bureau
Confidential advice providing emotional support
View - The Samaritans