10 things to cancel when someone dies

Many of us have limited, if any, experience of managing someone else’s estate. It’s usually not required of us until a loved one dies, at which point it can feel quite overwhelming. Although it’s probably the last thing you want to think about at this difficult time, we’ve created a guide to help you think about things to cancel when someone dies.

There are two free services that may be available to make life simpler for you:

Death Notification Service

The ‘Death Notification Service‘ is a free service which allows you to notify a number of banks and building societies (financial institutions) of a person’s death, at the same time. These include:
  • Barclays PLC: Barclaycard and Barclays
  • HSBC UK: First Direct and M&S Bank
  • RBS group: NatWest
  • Santander UK: Cahoot
  • Lloyds Banking Group: Bank of Scotland, Halifax, Lloyds Bank, Scottish Widows and Clerical Medical Nationwide
  • Building Society: The Mortgage Works, UCB Home Loans Ltd and The Mutual

Tell us once

Similarly, ‘Tell Us Once’ is a government service that lets you report a death to a number of government organisations at once. There are a number of important documents and details you’ll need before you can do this. These include, but are not limited to:
  • Date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • Driving licence number
  • Vehicle registration number
  • Passport number
Once you’ve registered the death of your loved one, the registrar can let you know if ‘Tell Us Once’ is offered in your region. If it is, they will provide you with a phone number and unique reference number. Unfortunately, this service is not available in Northern Ireland.

1. Current and savings account

If you are the executor of the deceased’s Will – the person dealing with their estate (belongings, money and property) – then you will need to withdraw and distribute money according to their wishes. There are various rules depending on where you live, the value/size of the estate and your relationship with the deceased to establish whether probrate is required and who inherites if someone dies without leaving a will. These are known as rules of intestacy.

To close a bank account after a death you’ll need to do the following:
1. Register the death
2. Notify any organisations that may be affected
3. Notify the bank
4. Share the necessary documents

A grant of probate is required to legally allow you to deal with a loved one’s finances, however, most banks will allow you to withdraw funds to cover immediate expenses related to their estate e.g. inheritance tax, probate fees, funeral expenses. For more information, read our article titled wills and probate.

When someone dies, debts they leave are usually paid out of their ‘estate’ (money and property they leave behind). If there are insufficient funds, the debts will be paid in priority order until the money or assets run out. Surviving relatives aren’t usually responsible for paying off outstanding debts.

With a mortgage, if you jointly owned your home and there’s not enough money elsewhere in the estate, there’s a chance your home will have to be sold. Without life insurance, meeting the monthly payments on your own can be difficult so you’ll need to consider your options.

2. Joint bank accounts

What happens to joint accounts when one person dies is a common question asked after the loss of a spouse or civil partner. The loss of a loved one is a troubling time, but it’s important to organise your joint bank accounts sooner rather than later.

Firstly, as a joint owner, you’ll need to register the death and provide a death certificate to access the bank account(s) – this will allow any joint current or savings accounts to be transferred into your name. Usually, any debit card in the name of the deceased, along with any telephone/online banking or payment arrangements, will be cancelled automatically, but the account details should remain the same.

3. Council tax

If ‘Tell Us Once’ is not available in your area, following a death, you will need to contact the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) council tax office and inform them of the loss. They will require the following information:

  • The name of the person who has died
  • The address where they lived
  • Whether the property will be occupied
  • Whether a single person discount is now needed
  • The names, addresses and contact details of any executors to the will of the deceased
  • The name and address of an appointed solicitor if you wish the council to deal directly with them

4. Department for Work and Pensions (DWP)

If you have lost a loved one, here’s how to report a death to DWP. If you cannot use the ‘Tell Us Once’ service, you’ll need to contact the following organisations individually:

For more information about personal and workplace pensions, here’s where you can find the pension contact details. Alternatively, if the person had an armed forced pension, you’ll need to contact Veterans UK.

5. Driving licence

Similarly, if ‘Tell Us Once’ is not available, you’ll need to write to DVLA to tell them a driver has died. Include the person’s driving licence with your letter, if you have it, but you do not need to send a death certificate. When informing DVLA of a death, your letter must include:
  • your relationship to the person who died
  • the date they died
  • their name, address and date of birth
Alternatively, if you are living in Northern Ireland then your process is slightly different. You’ll need to return the driving licence, with a covering letter explaining the circumstances and your relationship to the deceased, to the DVA. If you can’t find the driving licence, they’ll require a letter stating the name, address and date of birth of the deceased, and your relationship to the person. You’ll find more information about this on the nidirect website.

6. Passport

If you are wondering what to do with a passport when the passport holder has died, you’ll need to start by returning a form to the Her Majesty’s Passport Office (HMPO). They will be able to give you more information about how to send a deceased person’s passport back to HMPO.

7. Post

Mail redirection for the deceased may need to be set up after the loss of a loved one. If you need mail redirected in special circumstances, such as a death, you’ll need to contact the Royal mail where you can download the relevant form. Alternatively, your local post office can direct you to important documents that you’ll need to fill out.

8. Utility bills

You’ll need to contact the relevant companies to settle up any utility bills when someone dies. You can arrange for final payment of the deceased’s account and set up an alternative payment method to continue with those servicers.

What happens to the bills will depend on whether the property is being inhabited or being left unoccupied:

If the property will be left unoccupied, it’s a good idea to locate the relevant meters and take readings as soon as possible. This will prove very handy when it comes to closing or settling water, electric and gas bills.

If you are inheriting or continuing to live in the property you shared with your spouse or civil partner, it’s usually a matter of contacting the relevant companies and having the bills transferred into your name, if they aren’t already.

NB: Home and contents insurance in most instances will be invalid after a person’s death. Therefore, please ensure appropriate insurance is in place for any property owned by the deceased.

9. Social media accounts

Nowadays, lots of people have one or more social media accounts across multiple different online platforms. For more information about cancelling or memorialising these accounts, read our guide to dealing with online accounts after death.

10. TV, phone and internet subscriptions

If you need to cancel a TV licence or change it into your name, you can do so by filling out a contact form on the TV licensing website. When cancelling internet, landline or mobile phone bills, most providers have a specific policy in place, so you’ll need to contact the relevant company.

How to pick a funeral director

You can be assured that every funeral home that is part of the Funeral Partners family will provide outstanding client service.

Documents and certificates

Certificates you will need to enable you to start arranging the funeral and sorting out the affairs of the person who has died.

Letting people know

Picking up the telephone to tell close family or complete strangers such as an employer about the death is usually difficult.

Compare Cremation Funeral Services

Cremation services usually involve a gathering of family and friends and a cremation committal to say goodbye to a loved one.

Further Reading: Arranging a funeral

Read about how funerals are arranged and what services you can expect to get.