Telling friends and family

If you’re responsible for telling friends and family about the death, bear in mind that the way you deliver the news is important. You might be able to tell some people over the phone or by writing to them, while you will want to tell others face to face. Be wary about using social media – it can be useful for spreading the word about the funeral or sharing memories, but a lot of people won’t want to learn about a death this way. Dying Matters has some guidelines on how to break the news of a death.

Telling government and local council departments

You should do this as soon as possible after receiving the death certificate. The Tell Us Once service, which operates in most areas of England, lets you notify most government organisations in one go. If it’s available where you live, the registrar will tell you about it when you register the death and give you the contact details and a unique reference number.

If Tell Us Once doesn’t cover your area, you need to inform:

  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) (0300 200 3300) to deal with taxes
  • the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) (0345 606 0265)  to cancel any benefits, including the State Pension
  • Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) (0300 790 6801, gov.uk/tell-dvla-about-bereavement/overview) if the person who died drove or owned a car
  • the Passport Office (0300 222 0000) to cancel their passport
  • your local council to deal with council services, such as the electoral register and Housing Benefit
  • any public sector or armed forces pension scheme they had.

Who else to tell

Who you need to tell will depend on the circumstances of the person who died, but could include:

  • their employer
  • their landlord or mortgage provider
  • home carers or day care centres
  • anyone providing deliveries, such as milk or newspapers
  • utility companies
  • banks, building societies and credit card providers
  • insurance companies
  • pension providers

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