Death of non-serving spouse

The death of any family member is traumatic, but a spouse especially so, as you’ll have to make all the arrangements and take financial responsibility for your household.

Tell your Chain of Command and Unit HR. They will give you compassionate leave and may be able to offer a range of practical and emotional support.

Here is a list of the essential things you need to do immediately and in the subsequent weeks and months.  See also Sorting out the estate when there is a will or Sorting out the estate when there isn't a will

What you need to do straight away after a death

As soon as you are able to, you will need to get a medical certificate, register the death and arrange the funeral.

You don't need to deal with the will, money and property straight away. When you're ready see Sorting out the estate when there is a will and Sorting out the estate when there isn't a will.





Get a medical certificate

Immediately, unless there is a coroner’s inquest where the certificate is issued after this.

If the person died in hospital, the hospital will give this to you. If the person has died at home, you should call the person's GP.

 The certificate is free.

Register the death

Within five days for England, Wales or Northern Ireland; within eight days for Scotland.

If there’s a coroner’s (or procurator fiscal if in Scotland) inquest, registration is delayed until the inquest concludes.

Depending on which country the deceased lived in, you must register the death at:

Registering a death is free. However, to get a certificate you'll pay £4 in England and Wales or £8 in Northern Ireland.

The cost does rise if you later decide you want more copies. We suggest getting additional copies, as it usually cheaper and easier to do so at this point.

This lets you deal with several organisations at the same time, instead of having to wait for your only copy to be returned before you can deal with the next one.

Documents needed
You need the following information for the person who died:

  • Medical certificate with the cause of death

  • Full name including any previous names (eg maiden name)

  • Date and place of birth

  • Last address

  • Occupation

  • Full name, date of birth and occupation of their surviving/late spouse or civil partner if they were married.

If available, you should also take the deceased’s:

  • Birth certificate

  • Marriage or civil partnership certificate

  • National Insurance number

  • NHS medical card

  • Proof of address, eg utility bill

  • Driving license

  • Passport

You should also bring identification (eg a driving licence) to show proof of your identity.

Arrange the funeral 

Once you have registered the death, you can arrange the funeral. Most people do this through a funeral director, but it's also possible to arrange the funeral yourself. 

In the weeks following the death

Once you've arranged the above, you need to start telling various organisations about the death.

Notify the person's landlord and other organisations

If you were privately renting together and the lease is in the deceased’s name, you’ll need to let the landlord know and ask for it to be transferred to your name.

You’ll also need to have your name transferred for any bills or payments.

Organisations might include housing associations or council housing offices, mortgage providers, employers and utility providers.

As soon as possible. Contact each organisation.
Notify government departments
  • HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) for their taxes
  • Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for their State Pension and benefits
  • Passport Office to cancel their passport
  • Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) to cancel their driving license, car tax and car registration documents
  • Local council for their Council Tax, electoral register and other housing benefits
  • Public sector or armed forces pension scheme for their pension.

As soon as possible after receiving the death certificate.

You can use the Tell Us Once service to notify these government departments at the same time. 

This service is offered by most local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland, but not in Northern Ireland.

If the Tell Us Once service is not offered by your local authority, then you’ll need to notify these departments individually.


The service is free.

You will need to provide the following information:
  • Unique reference number given to you when you register the death
  • Name, date of death and National Insurance number of the deceased
  • Contact details, date of birth, passport number (if available) and National Insurance number of the next of kin
  • Details of the person dealing with the deceased’s estate
  • Permission from the next of kin, the executor, the administrator or anyone who was claiming joint benefits or entitlements with the deceased, to give out their contact details.
If available, you should also provide:
  • Details of any benefits or entitlements they were getting, eg State Pension
  • Details of any local council services they were getting, eg Blue Badge
  • Name and address of their next of kin
  • Name contact details of the person or company dealing with the deceased’s estate, ie the ‘executor’ or ‘administrator’
  • Details of any public sector or armed forces pension schemes they were getting or paying in to.
Return the person's passport and driving licence As soon as possible after receiving the death certificate. By post. See the following links for details of where to send these documents:
Notify insurers and creditors

Insurance company, bank or building society, credit card companies, utility companies, pension provider and any other companies that owed money to the person who died or were owed money by them.
Ideally, as soon as possible after receiving the death certificate, or within a month of the death. By calling the company, visiting the local branch (for banks or building society), or by visiting their website, where they may have an online form that you can complete.

See Dealing with finances and insurance after your partner dies
Free to notify these companies. But the person who died may have had outstanding debts or payment arrangements with these companies that need to be settled.

How to sort out the person's financial affairs will depend on whether they made a will or died without a will.

You will need official copies of the death certificate when dealing with these companies.

You’ll also need to give the contact details of the executor or administrator of the estate.

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Additional resources and support

You can find additional information about when someone dies at:

Bereavement support

Dealing with the death of someone close to you can seem overwhelming. Your GP or your local religious or community group is often a good place to start to looking for support in dealing with bereavement.

There are also a number of organisations that offer support to help you deal with your grief:

Last reviewed: 02/08/2017

This content has been provided by the Money Advice Service