When you’ve lost a family member or a dear friend, it takes a long time to come to terms with what’s happened. When you’re still in shock, hurting and not functioning properly, sorting out legal matters becomes so much more difficult.
There are certain processes which need to be followed after someone dies in Scotland and there’s no good time to have to face these. When you choose Gibson Kerr to help you, we’ll make sure you’re well looked after. We’re a family law firm with traditional values and we’ll make sure you know what needs to be done and when.
We appreciate that at a terribly sad time such as this, you don’t want to be bombarded with lots of legal jargon and lengthy information. That’s why we’ve put together this checklist on what to do when someone dies in Scotland.
Registering the death
Registering the death and making sure you have all the required paperwork can be traumatic. It’s a good idea to get someone to help you gather all the documents and go along with you to register the death.
- Before you can register the death, you need to get the death certificate from the hospital or your doctor
- You should then make an appointment with your local Registrar of Births, Marriages and Deaths
- You will need to have the following information/documents when you go to your appointment: the death certificate, the birth certificate of the person who’s passed away and their marriage certificate (if applicable)
- Financial information such as any state benefits or pension they were receiving at the time of their death
- Details of the deceased person’s full name, occupation, postal address and his or her date and country of birth, as well as information regarding their parents (full names and occupations)
If you’re going to be sorting out the deceased’s affairs, it is useful to ask for a few full extract copies of the death certificate as most companies will ask for sight of this before closing accounts. You will be given one abbreviated copy for free and full extract copies can be obtained for £10 each.
Planning the funeral
Before you start to make any funeral plans, you need to check the following:
- Did the deceased have a will, and if so, did it mention any funeral plans?
- Did they have a pre-paid funeral plan in place?
- Make an appointment with a local funeral director and take the death certificate with you
- Think about any hymns or music you’d like to have played at the service
Dealing with the estate
In terms of dealing with the estate (the deceased’s assets such as money, property and pension), it depends on whether or not the deceased left a will.
- If a will has been left, the appointed executor will then administer the estate and make sure the deceased’s wishes are carried out
- If no will valid will is in place, a person entitled to inherit the estate needs to apply to the court to be appointed an executor
- Should you have any questions about the legal process at this stage, it’s best to speak to one of our lawyers. There are laws which need to be followed correctly when dealing with the winding up of someone’s estate
- If you are not sure whether there is a will or not, we can make enquiries for you to find out if there is a will
This can be a particularly uncomfortable part of the process. It can take many years to begin to get over the death of a loved one, but there are legal processes which need to be followed.
We understand and appreciate that it might not feel right for you to be talking about someone’s estate when you’re still coming to terms with them not being around anymore.
We can take a lot of the worry, stress and unfamiliarity out of winding up an estate so you’re not over-burdened while you’re still grieving.
Valuing the estate
Before an estate can be wound up completely, there are a number of things that need to be done by the executor (the person responsible for dealing with the estate).
- Contact all relevant companies to find out the assets the deceased had – bank accounts, shares, pension funds etc
- Contact any relevant parties the deceased may have owed money to – council tax, credit card companies and loans for example
- Have any properties/other assets valued
This part of the process can take a long time as you could be dealing with third parties such as banks, insurance companies.
You should also look into any life insurance policies the deceased may have had.
This part of dealing with someone’s death can be a very drawn-out process. Speaking and writing to lots of different organisations can be mentally exhausting when you’re trying to adapt to life without your loved one.
If the thought of dealing with all the legal processes and paperwork is too much for you, you’re not alone. We’re often appointed to act for executors to deal with as much of the estate administration as they require and we can ensure everything is done correctly and as quickly as possible.
You many also be interested in reading: My partner has died without a will; what are my rights