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Dealing with the death of a loved one

“Dealing with the death of a loved one can lead to a legacy of confusion – we’re here to guide you through it”

James Coney


Dealing with the death of a loved one can be all consuming and overwhelming. It’s not just the grief that can leave you shattered — but the admin. You have to pick coffins, book flowers, transport, a church, hymns, an order of service, a venue, music, speeches and food (all within a budget) — and that’s just for starters.

At the same time there is the mountain of official paperwork to get through. Some of this hasn’t changed through the ages, but what has is the ever-increasing mountain of financial companies and utilities firms that the relatives left behind have to deal with. No longer do you just contact the taxman and the local bank or building society. Now people have multiple savings accounts and investments, phone companies (sometimes two of them), power firms, TV firms, pensions and life insurers, health insurers, HM Revenue & Customs, the Department for Work & Pensions and old employers.

And don’t forget their Nectar card, Tesco Clubcard, any trade unions they belonged to, accounts with iTunes, Amazon, Paypal . . . you get the gist.

You had better hope your loved ones are organised and wrote down all their passwords.

Fortunately many firms make it easy. You call them, you tell them someone has died, they cancel the account and send a letter to confirm.

But others forget that this can be one of the most taxing and often unique situations that people have been through. Some firms seem to do everything to make it as hard as possible to get simple but unpleasant jobs done.

They don’t realise that every time you have to call and say those dreaded words: ‘My mother has died …’ it breaks your heart.

So having to send, and then resend, death certificates or search for documentation that is not needed adds to this distress. You certainly won’t know what is legally required; sadly, often those working on the front line in some organisations don’t either.

And then there are the outright ridiculous things they do, such as send letters addressed to the person who has died but with ‘deceased’ printed after their name.

Or send account closure notices with the words: ‘We’re sorry you’re leaving us. What can we do to make you stay?’

I wish incidents like these were rare, but our postbag shows that they are tragically commonplace.

Don’t leave it until it’s too late to sort out your affairs. Organising your finances today can be one of the loveliest legacies you can possibly leave.