What to do when someone dies

Published  23 August 2023
   4 min read

When someone close to you dies everything can seem a bit of a blur and it can be hard to know what to do. There are a lot of organisations that can provide financial support, advice and information.

Here are some practical steps you might need to take, with links to charities and organisations that can help you through this difficult time. You can download a PDF copy here.

Help paying for a funeral

One of the first things you need to do when someone dies is arrange their funeral. This is a big expense, so you’ll need to think about if you can afford it without putting yourself in a tricky situation.

If you’re struggling, there are some other ways you could cover the cost, such as a funeral plan or insurance. Check the paperwork of the person who's died to see if they paid for their funeral in advance.

Alternatively, if the person who's died had a bank account that still has money in it, the bank may agree to pay the funeral director straight from the account once it sees the person’s death certificate.

You can even check the Government’s Funeral Payment or Budgeting Loan tools to see if you qualify for financial support.

Lastly, a public health funeral could be an option if there’s no money to pay for a funeral. In this case, the local council that serves the person’s address or the hospital where they died will arrange the funeral on their behalf.

Understanding what else needs to be done

On top of paying for a funeral, there are many other things that need to be done after someone dies. These organisations all have useful explanations about the steps to take:

Bereavement benefits

Your finances can be affected when you lose a loved one, and you may suddenly have less money to cover your regular expenses.

Now that your circumstances have changed, you may be entitled to bereavement benefits and other financial support, such as:

  • Bereavement Support Payment – you may be eligible for this if your husband, wife or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017, and you were under State Pension age.
  • Turn2Us – an online benefits checker. 
  • entitledto – an online benefits checker.
  • Citizens Advice – free, impartial and confidential advice either over the phone or online. Contact your local Citizens Advice or visit the Citizens Advice website to find out more.


Help with housing costs

Housing costs make up a large part of most peoples’ income. Your household income will fall if your partner or spouse die, but you may be eligible for housing benefits or a reduction in your Council Tax from your local authority.

Full Council Tax is based on at least two adults living in a home. If you lose a loved one and find yourself either living on your own, or with no other adult in your household, you’re entitled to a 25% cut in your Council Tax bill - regardless of your income.

The Government’s website has guides to help you learn more about how council tax works, as well as housing costs and universal credit benefits.

Support with tax matters after a death

Family deaths can bring up a range of tax matters, including inheritance tax and other tax payments you might have to consider. There is a range of information and support available, including:

  • Tax Help for Older People – free help for those close to age 60 or over, and with an annual income of less than £20,000. You can call them on 0130 848 8066.
  • TaxAid – free help with tax problems for people on low incomes. You can call them on 0345 120 3779 (10am to 4pm on Mon-Fri).
  • Citizens Advice – get in touch with your local Citizen Advice or visit their website to find out more, and request impartial and confidential advice, free of charge.
  • GOV.UK – a useful round-up of the different tax support.
  • HMRC – get help dealing with HMRC if you have additional needs.

Dealing with debts after a death

If a person had unpaid debts when they died, you can speak with various organisations to get advice on how to deal with them, such as:

Managing your money after someone dies

A death in the family can often mean you need to rethink your finances. There are various tools and organisations that can help.

If you need someone to talk to after a death

There are many organisations that can put you in touch with someone to talk to after a bereavement:

  • British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy – find a qualified counsellor or therapist through this organisation.
  • Cruse Bereavement Care – a charity providing free grief and bereavement counselling. Call the helpline on 0808 808 1677.
  • Cruse Scotland – a charity providing free grief and bereavement counselling in Scotland. Call the helpline on 0808 802 6161.
  • Samaritans – a safe place for you to talk any time you like, in your own way – about whatever’s getting to you. Call the helpline on 116 123.
  • WAY – peer to peer support groups for people aged 50 or under when their partner died. They charge an annual membership fee of £25 and can be contacted at Suite 14, College Business Centre, Uttoxeter Road, Derby DE22 3WZ.
  • If you work for a large employer – check with your HR department or manager if your employer offers counselling through an employee assistance programme.
  • Local support groups – your GP should be able to provide you with details of any local counselling that’s available

Support for children after a death

There are special organisations that can provide bereavement counselling for children:

How to Die Well book

Spearheaded by Royal London, How to Die Well is a book of insightful essays, inclusive cultural conversations and all-important resources for anyone dealing with death.

Register now to get your free digital copy.