Bereavement in the Digital Age

Losing a loved one is an extremely difficult time for people. It is emotional and can be very stressful particularly when thinking about how to deal with your loved one’s affairs and where to start from.

There are many ways the Digital Age has helped the bereavement process and this will be looked at below.

Registering the Death

One of the first things that have to be actioned is to register the person’s death. This is the formal record of the death and it is done by the Registrars of Births, Deaths and Marriages. This can usually be done by contacting a register offer. A relative of the deceased should register the death and the deceased’s personal details will be required.

This service can be done remotely by contacting the register office by phone. This means you do not need to physically visit a register office. It also can be seen as slightly more human than an online form which may help individuals so soon into the bereavement process.

Tell us Once

Once the death has been formally registered, a reference is provided for the ‘Tell us Once’ service. This allows you to report a death to several of the government department, agencies and the local authority in one contact. This covers departments such as the DWP, HMRC, the Passport Service and the DVLA.

This can be done online via Government portal or by phone. The service can be seen as quite useful as opposed to contacting each and every department to inform them of a love ones’ death. The online route also provides a record for you to review and start the chain of communication from the different bodies confirming the death and providing details of any money owed by or to the estate.

Bank Notification

Unlike the above service, the banks and building societies do not have one single notification portal.

Many organisations have in fact signed up to the Death Notification Service which allows you to inform several banks and building societies of your loved one’s death at the same time. There are a few exceptions though, including Coventry Building Society, Yorkshire Building Society and Co-Op Bank (to name a few). The Death Notification Service is an online form and is seen to be efficient and continues the record keeping which is not so easy when visiting each bank and building society.

For those that would not be able to use the Death Notification Service, either because they are unable to access this online or because the banks and building societies are not covered under the service, each asset holder will need to be notified individually. They usually have a dedicated bereavement team that can help over the phone and if you are lucky enough to get an appointment at a branch, notification can be done in person which may be preferred by some.


Depending on the value of the deceased’s assets, a Grant of Probate may be required which is a legal document that gives the persons named as Executors in the deceased’s Will, the authority to administer the estate.

If there is no Will then instead of a Grant of Probate, a Letters of Administration may be required and this would be obtained by the next of kin.

This process can be done online via the HMCTS Portal or by post if the online portal cannot be used i.e. if you are applying for a Letters of Administration and do not qualify for the online application. The timeframe for this depends on whether the application is done online or by post and whether Inheritance Tax is payable. This can range from four to six months but can be longer than this due to a backlog of cases at the Probate Registry.

How we can help

We offer a no obligation Estate Options meeting where we meet you in person to discuss the matter. This can be arranged at any one of our offices or at your home if required.

The meeting is an opportunity for you to ask any questions that you may have and to obtain advice on the legal process. We also discuss the various options as to how we can assist you in dealing with your loved one’s estate and the cost for the same. It is then a decision for you as to how you wish to proceed. We believe the in person meeting is invaluable to our clients given the Digital Age we live in.