What to do when someone dies

12th December 2016

Dealing with the loss of a loved one or friend is always a very difficult time. It can be especially stressful if it happens over the Christmas holiday season, when it is not as easy to get instant advice from professionals.

Shelly Wainwright, wills and probate lawyer at Ansons Solicitors in Staffordshire, provides some guidance about the immediate action you need to take when someone dies, before you are able to contact a solicitor for further advice.

1. Register the death

The first thing you need to do is to register the death and obtain a copy of the Death Certificate. However, depending on your nearest Registry Office, they may or may not be open during the holiday season. If they are not open then register the death as soon as possible after they re-open. You will be able to obtain several copies of the Death Certificate which will be useful if the deceased had lots of assets that will need to be dealt with.

When you register the death the Registrar will give you a certificate of registration of death which will need to be handed to the funeral director.

2. Contact funeral director

If the deceased died anywhere other than in hospital then you will need to make arrangements for a funeral director to move them. If the deceased had a funeral plan or you are aware of their funeral wishes then you will need to contact this specific funeral director. There may be details about this on the Will. Otherwise, there will be a ‘locum’ funeral director who can assist you with this until such time as you can ascertain which funeral director to use.

3. Secure the property

If the deceased had a property then you will need to ensure that it is secure and locked. It would also be prudent to ascertain whether there is any house insurance in place. If not, then this will need to be done as soon as possible. The executors of the estate should deal with this, if you know who they are, from the will.

4. Take legal advice

As soon as you can, after the holiday season, you will need to take some legal advice about what to do next for the estate. In particular, you will need to locate the original will or if you know the deceased did not make a will then you will need to take advice about the next steps as the rules of intestacy will determine what happens to the deceased’s estate.

For more information on what to do when someone dies, or for any other wills and probate matter contact Shelly Wainwright at Ansons Solicitors in Cannock and Lichfield, Staffordshire on 01543 267984 or email

Please note the office will be closed from 5.30pm on Friday 23 December 2016 and will re-open at 8.30am on Tuesday 3 January 2017.