To help you during this difficult time, we have put together a practical guide which includes all the information you need to know in order to organise the financial matters of your next of kin or someone close to you. To guide you, we have detailed some of the key steps that you (as the next of kin or Personal Representative) will need to take following the death of a loved one.
You may find the information below useful, but you may still want to speak to us. We are here to help.
By law you must register a death within 5 days in England and Wales, and 8 days in Scotland. This should be done at the registry office, and it is best to go to the registry office in the area where the person died. The following website will help you locate the nearest registry office www.gov.uk/register-offices. The registrar will provide you with all the necessary documentation to proceed with the funeral arrangements:
When registering the death, you should consider requesting more than one copy of the death certificate as many organisations will request to see the original certificate before they can help you to deal with the deceased’s affairs.
Many registry offices offer the Government’s ‘Tell Us Once’ service. This service notifies various government departments of the death, for example, DWP (pensions), HMRC (taxes), DVLA, the local and county council.
If you haven’t done so already, please notify us of the death as soon as possible. We will let you know what documentation we require and what will happen to the accounts of the deceased.
Upon notification of a customer’s death, we will freeze the account.
Please note, we must see the original death certificate or a certified copy (see the Obtain the relevant documents section), before any amendments can be made to our records.
You can write to us to inform us of the death or visit your local branch.
We will always require:
Depending on the type(s) of account(s) and the balance(s) held, you may be required to provide additional documentation. We will advise you what documentation we need at the time you notify us of the death.
|Type of document||What this is|
|Death Certificate||The legal document issued by the registrar when a person dies. It is a copy of the entry in the register of deaths at the General Register Office.
The Society must see the original Death Certificate or a certified copy in all circumstances. Copies of documentation can be certified by a regulated professional person, such as a solicitor, accountant or bank/building society official.
|Will||A legal document that states your wishes about what you want to happen to your assets when you die. A will contains the name(s) of the executor(s) i.e. the person(s) responsible for carrying out the wishes contained within the will.
If the person dies ‘intestate’, in other words without a will, their assets will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. For more information see the 'What happens if there is no will?' section.
|Grant of Probate (Certificate of Confirmation in Scotland)/ Letters of Administration*||Probate means the proving of a will. A Grant of Probate is obtained by the named executors in a will from the court to confirm their right to deal with the affairs of a deceased person. It is sometimes called administering the estate. A Certificate of Confirmation is the Scottish equivalent of a Grant of Probate.
If a person dies without a will (intestate), the next of kin or personal representative can apply to the court for a grant of Letters of Administration. This is an official document that names individuals as the administrators of the estate and gives them the right to administer the estate.
The Society requires Grant of Probate (Certificate of Confirmation in Scotland)/Letters of Administration if the total balance (in all of the accounts owned solely by the customer e.g. not joint, taking into consideration any accounts held with other banks/building societies) exceeds £15,000 or if the customer has a mortgage. If the total balance is less than £15,000 and the customer does not have a mortgage then a Statutory Declaration can be presented instead of a Grant of Probate, however, if a Grant of Probate has already been obtained this must be used.
|Statutory Declaration||A Statutory Declaration is a written statement of fact that is signed in the presence of either a:
The Society will provide you with a Statutory Declaration form which must be completed and returned to the Society. A Statutory Declaration can be used instead of a Grant of Probate (Certificate of Confirmation in Scotland)/Letters of Administration if the total balance (in all of the accounts owned solely by the customer e.g. not joint, taking into consideration any accounts held with other banks/building societies) is between £500 and £15,000. There is normally a small fee to have a Statutory Declaration signed in the presence of a Solicitor/Notary Public/Justice of the Peace/Commissioner for Oaths.
*If the assets are with more than one financial provider these will need to be combined and presented in one document when applying for Grant of Probate (Certificate of Confirmation in Scotland) or Letters of Administration.
For all insurance accounts we will need to see an original or certified copy of the death certificate.
We will require information on the future occupation of the property.
If the policy is in joint names we will remove the deceased’s name from the policy. If the policy is in the deceased’s sole name the options available will be discussed; such as arranging a new policy for the new property owner, noting the executors’ interest etc.
If the property is unoccupied we will discuss the changes to the cover and amend the existing policy.
If the policy is in joint names we will arrange for the deceased’s name to be removed from the policy.
If the policy is in the deceased’s sole name we will arrange for the policy to be cancelled.
You will need to contact the Life company direct and they will advise you on how to make a claim.
For mortgage accounts, we will need to see an original or certified copy of the death certificate and Grant of Probate (Certificate of Confirmation in Scotland). Once you have obtained this documentation and it is established who will inherit the mortgaged property, we can discuss any future mortgage requirements.
In order to establish who will inherit the mortgaged property, the Society will look through the property deeds to see if the property is held as joint tenancy or tenancy in common.
Once we have seen an original or certified copy of the death certificate we will remove the deceased’s name from the account. The remaining account holder(s) can continue using the account.
|Current account/ Savings account||The Visa debit card/Cashcards issued in the name of the deceased will be cancelled automatically once we have registered the customer as deceased. A new cheque book or passbook (if applicable) will be issued using the amended account title. No other changes will be made to the account, unless we are instructed by the remaining account holder(s).|
Once we have seen an original or certified copy of the death certificate and have seen suitable identification for the Executors/Administrators/Personal Representatives, we will freeze the account until it can be closed and the funds released.
|All accounts||The following items will be cancelled automatically once we have registered the customer as deceased:
All sole accounts will remain open until the appropriate legal documents have been presented to the Society and instructions obtained from the Executors/Administrators/Personal Representatives. Following receipt of the appropriate legal documentation, the account title will be amended to reflect the Executors, Administrators or Personal Representatives whilst the estate is being administered. Correspondence will be sent to the address requested by the Executors/Administrators/Personal Representatives.
Any account(s) which the deceased held in trust does not form part of their estate. We will, however, require the Executor/Administrator/Personal Representative to confirm what should happen to the account.
Any Powers of Attorney that were granted by the deceased will lapse upon their death. This means that the named Attorney will not have any rights to carry out transactions on the account following the death.
As a guide, the following documentation will be required to release the funds from a sole account.
What we may also need:
It is very difficult to estimate when the Society will be able to release the funds in an account, as this will largely depend on the monetary value of accounts held with us and the complexity of the affairs of the deceased. The following table shows what is needed before we can release the funds, and the estimated timescales associated with each:
|Less than £500||We require the Executors/Administrators/Personal Representatives to sign a declaration (the Society will provide you with this). Once this has been received we will release the funds as soon as possible (normally this is immediately, however it may take a few days).|
|£500 to £15,000||We require the Personal Representative to complete our statutory declaration form which will require a Solicitor/Notary Public/Justice of the Peace/Commissioner for Oaths’ signature in order to release the funds. Once this has been given to us, we will release the funds as quickly as possible.|
|Over £15,000||We will need to see the Grant of Probate (Certificate of Confirmation in Scotland) or Letters of Administration; this may take some time to obtain. Once given to us, we will release the funds as quickly as possible.|
If any of the accounts have an overdrawn balance, we will attempt to recover the balance using monies in another Cumberland account. If there are no other accounts, and the account remains overdrawn, the balance will need to be cleared from other assets within the estate.
If someone dies without making a will or the will cannot be located, the deceased’s estate is distributed according to the law of intestacy. This law determines how the estate is divided and shared and will vary depending on where the deceased person lived.
Most people choose to use a funeral director who will help with all the necessary decisions and arrangements. Sometimes people include funeral instructions in their will, so it may be worthwhile checking. You may wish to meet with more than one funeral director to ensure you are comfortable with their suggestions and that you trust them with something so important.
Many people find it difficult to cover the cost of a funeral, but help may be available from the Government. You can find advice on paying for funerals on the Government’s website, details of which can be found below in the Useful websites section.
Usually the assets of the person who has died are frozen until the estate is settled. However, the account funds can be used to pay towards the funeral bill. If you need access to the deceased’s account funds to pay for funeral expenses, please discuss this with your local branch.
As well as informing family and friends, you will need to consider who else needs to know. This will include any organisations the deceased had a relationship with. To assist, we have prepared a list of the most common organisations, which you may find helpful:
Please note this list is not exhaustive, and should only be used as a guide.
Depending on the value of the estate, you may be liable for Inheritance Tax. Inheritance Tax is determined as a percentage of the overall estate value. It is not always straight forward as there are.
For further information on Inheritance Tax visit the HMRC website, details of which can be found in the Useful websites section.
From late 2016, the Society will be supporting Additional Permitted Subscriptions, which is a one-off ISA allowance equal to the value of the deceased’s ISA Savings. This allows ISA allowances to be passed to an existing customer when their spouse/civil partner has passed away. Please visit your local branch or contact our Customer Services Team if you require more information.
There are many terms which you may come across when dealing with a bereavement. To help you understand everything you need to know, we have listed definitions for some of the more common terms:
The person appointed to administer an estate where there is no valid will, or where the executor(s) is unable, or unwilling to act.
A person appointed by another to act in his/her place.
The person who is entitled to receive the funds or property from a will or intestacy.
Latin for ‘ownerless goods’; this is a legal concept associated with assets that have no owner.
CGT is a tax on capital ‘gains’. If when you sell or give away an asset it has increased in value, the profit (‘gain’) may be taxable.
Copies of documentation can be certified by a regulated professional person, such as a solicitor, accountant or bank official.
A certificate now usually issued in letter format by HMRC releasing a person liable to inheritance tax from paying further.
This is a written amendment within a will.
This is a solicitor.
This allows the individuals who receive funds or property from the will (beneficiaries) to change how the estate is distributed to reflect family circumstances and possibly save future inheritance tax.
The term that covers everything an individual owns, i.e. money, property and possessions.
Accounts recording the financial transactions during the administration period.
This is the person, named in a will, who is to carry out the wishes contained in that will.
The tax that must be paid from the estate of a deceased person.
This term is used when a person dies without having made a valid will.
This means that each person’s interest in the property is not quantified; both own the property jointly and individually. If one of the person’s were to die then the whole property automatically passes to the other person regardless of anything that is said in a will.
Enable you to set out your wishes in a legal document and to appoint trusted people as ‘attorneys’ to oversee them. Lasting power of attorney replaced the enduring power of attorney from 1 October 2007.
If the deceased left a will but did not appoint an executor or if the named executor is unable to carry out the duty then the grant of probate is called ‘letters of administration with will annexed’.
The person responsible for dealing with the estate of a person who has died, i.e. either the executor or the administrator.
Formal deed by which one person appoints another to act/represent on his/her behalf.
This means that a person’s interest in the property is fixed and separate. If one of the person’s were to die, their share in the property could be passed onto someone else entitled to it under their will.
The person who is holding assets on trust.