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Executor. Step 1. The Death Certificate.

So, you’ve agreed to be executor for someone and now it’s happened, you have to actually carry out your promise.

Probably you are feeling wretched, as it may well be someone you care for; yet you have to think clearly and start sorting out the estate.

Registering the death

As executor you are not automatically obliged to register the death yourself, it would normally be the relative that was with the person when they died.  Of course, this may be you.

A death must be registered within five days, but it can be delayed for another nine days if you tell the registrar that a medical certificate has been issued. If the death has been reported to the coroner you cannot register it until their investigations are finished.

Citizens Advice gives useful information about how to go about registering the death, where to go and what documents to take.

The importance of certified copies of the death certificate

As executor, it may save you much time and cost, if you ask the person registering the death to buy ‘certified copies’ of the certificate when they register.

Guidance from Marie Curie states:

‘You’ll usually need one certified copy (not a photocopy) for each insurance, bank or pension company you’re dealing with (my italics). You may also need to give copies to the executor or administrator who is dealing with the property of the person who’s died. The executor of the will and the registrar should be able to help you work out how many copies you need.’

That final statement is telling – as executor, under those difficult circumstances would you be able to confidently tell the person how many copies you will need?

By the way, each copy costs between £8 and £12, depending on where you live in the UK.  Avoiding buying them immediately could cost more in the longer term, as ordering copies later may be more expensive and delay you sorting out the estate.

Plan ahead

I’ll leave you, as executor, with two questions:

  1. How may copies of the death certificate will you ask to be ordered?
  2. Who will pay for these?

Meanings of words used in this blog

Executor = is a person who is named as someone who can deal with the estate of a deceased person.

Estate = property, money and things the deceased person owned.

NB The information in this blog is not legal guidance. It is what I have found while researching to compile a handbook called ‘To My Executor’ that I hope may help families make dealing with death a little easier practically.  It relates to England and Wales.

 

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