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A guide to what to do when someone dies

Posted on 8 September 2016

After a death - All you need to know in one place

When someone dies, it’s a huge shock to the system. Even if the death is expected, nothing can prepare you for the way you feel when it happens. To make matters more difficult, there are lots of things that have to be done soon after the death, including registering the death and arranging the funeral.

Understandably, the long to-do list can quickly become overwhelming, especially when you have a lot on your mind. That’s why we’ve created an easy-to-use online guide which sets out very simply exactly what you need to do when someone dies.

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The guide provides all the information you need in one place. From the priorities that must be done promptly, right through to paying for the funeral and dealing with the estate. It also gives you practical tips and simple downloadable checklists to keep you on track at a hectic time.

Making the process as simple as possible

We understand that your head may feel like cotton wool and that you won’t always be thinking straight, so we’ve made everything as simple for you as possible. The guide is written in plain English, and breaks down tasks into bite size pieces, so you can do one thing at a time.

To make things feel a little more manageable, the guide also shows you what needs to be done straight away, and what you could put on the backburner at least for a few weeks.

In your own time

Everyone’s experience is different and you may not want or need help at every stage of the process from reporting a death to dealing with the estate. Please dip in and out whenever you need to. The guide is there to support you and act a handy reference point.

“Losing someone we love is upsetting and often traumatic, but few of us realise how much practical work goes along with it.

This helpful new site will help people through the actions they need to take at a time when it’s hard to think of anything other than the person you’ve lost. It’s also a useful site to look at ahead of time, so you can start gathering documents and information.

At Dying Matters we believe that talking about death won’t make it happen, and putting our plans in place allows us to get on with living our lives. We’re delighted that SunLife have created this site, and I hope that will people will find it helpful.”

What to do when someone dies

Here are the steps the guide can help you with:

  • Reporting a death
    How to report the death and who you need to contact
  • Registering a death
    How, when and where to register the death
  • Who to inform
    Who must be contacted first, and the people and organisations that can wait a little longer
  • Arranging the funeral
    How to arrange and pay for the funeral/li>
  • Managing the estate and Probate
    How to deal with someone’s estate, with or without a Will to follow
  • Support
    Where to find practical and emotional support when coping with a bereavement

Remember, you’re only human

Please remember dealing with someone’s death is big ask. You’re coping with a loss and have a very long to-do list to get through. You may feel very alone. Those around you are grieving too and probably aren’t seeing the pressure you’re under.

Don’t be a superhero. Do what you can when you can - and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Everyone will want to support you but may need you to show them how.

We hope you found this article helpful. Use our guide to help you understand what to do when someone dies. Even if you don’t need it now, it might be a good idea to bookmark the guide so you can find it easily in the future.

SunLife offers a range of straightforward and affordable products including over 50 life insurance, funeral plans, life insurance, pet insurance, ISAs and Will writing services.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife? 

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Phoenix Life Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 110418). As part of SunLife’s commitment to quality service and security, telephone calls may be recorded.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

The funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Ltd which is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.