How to do ‘death admin'

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We’re all familiar with ‘life admin’: the everyday grind of bills to pay, emails to answer, bookings to arrange and phone calls to make.

But ‘death admin’ exists too.

We’re probably less aware of this — until we have to do it ourselves.

This blog highlights a few ways to make ‘death admin’ quicker, easier and less distressing for all involved.

What is ‘death admin’?

As well as registering the death and organising the funeral, when someone dies, their surviving friends or family will have to contact a multitude of organisations to let them know what has happened.

Among other tasks, next-of-kin will have to close accounts, change who bills are sent to or stop payments altogether.

Death admin is time-consuming and complicated — as no standardised process exists between different companies. It’s a job which can take months to complete. It can also be emotionally draining to repeat deeply personal news again and again to people that you don’t know and have never met.

Notifying government departments about a death

Since 2011, the Tell Us Once service has allowed people to notify government departments about a death through a single process. The registrar will help you set this up when you register a death.

You’ll need to have a few important documents to hand — such as the person’s driving licence and passport — and details about them. But once you’ve gathered these together, you’re ready to use Tell Us Once to notify government services that someone has died. This covers benefits, vehicle registration, the electoral register and even some public sector pensions.

But what about private companies?

City AM estimates that, on average, we each hold around twenty accounts with different companies. It sounds a lot but, when you think about it, it makes sense, as these include accounts with utility companies, internet providers, social media sites and banks, as well pensions, insurance and many more.

Several new services have emerged recently which enable you notify all of these accounts through a single platform. Life Ledger and Settld are two of these. The death notification service is another ‘one stop shop’ but only for contacting banks and building societies. All are free to use. They will also track applications, keep you up-to-date with progress and can chase up companies who fail to respond in good time.

As with Tell Us Once, you’ll need to have some key documents to hand to get started. This includes a copy of the death certificate. But once you have these, you’re good to go.

What else do I need to know?

Life Ledger also offers the opportunity to register your accounts and details with them during your life. This means that your information will all be stored in one place, making the process of closing or changing accounts after your death much more straightforward.

Settld, along with charities like Sue Ryder and Cruse, have spearheaded a campaign for a bereavement standard. This standard would include an agreed timeframe in which companies have to act, and standardised requirements for paperwork. The campaign has gained huge support, with more than 93,000 people signing a petition, and has been discussed in parliament.

There are other positive developments on the way. The government has recognised that a digital system of death registration would make ‘death admin’ smoother for many people. There are plans to launch this at the end of next year.

However, it’s clear that there’s still more to be done. If you’ve had experiences, good or bad, with ‘death admin’ or have ideas for improvement, do fill in this survey. Your views will be shared with companies to help them improve their services.

Find more about what to do when someone dies or discover more about what a funeral director does on our blog.

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