Seven urgent things you must do after a parent passes away

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If you can’t find this information, The Pension Tracing Service can help you. This is a free, government-backed service. Other companies also offer this service, but may charge for it.

For the service to work, you will need to give some clues, such as the name of a previous employer and when your parent may have been in the pension scheme.

There is also a free service called Gretel that uses the deceased’s name, date of birth and previous addresses to regularly search for associated financial accounts, such as pensions.

Now read: Six easy (and completely legal) ways to avoid inheritance tax

Check for bank accounts

It is important to know how much cash your parent had in the bank – not only so you work out the value of their estate, but also cancel direct debits and standing orders for services such as their mobile phone, subscriptions or other household bills.

If there is no sign of who they bank with, the banking industry’s My Lost Account may be able to help.

The free online tool lets you enter the deceased person’s name, date of birth and current and previous addresses to search for any savings or current accounts that may have been held with a particular provider.

This can be tricky if you don’t know which company they banked with, but it could be worth starting with the larger high street banks, before moving on to local building societies and other smaller firms.

Only use these services if you don’t know what accounts a parent held as it only searches for “lost accounts” that haven’t been touched for 15 years or more. 

If you know the bank they used, then you can usually contact their bereavement line or staff in-branch to find out how to access the money.

NS&I also has its own online form where you can claim a customer’s savings after a bereavement; you’ll need to provide a few details, such as their details, the name of the executor and the type of NS&I accounts they held.

If your parent had money held in a cash Isa, and has a surviving spouse or civil partner, they should check to see whether they can inherit the Isa wealth with an additional permitted subscription (APS) Isa, which will protect its tax-free status.

Investigate investments 

Similar to bank accounts, any investments need to be found so you can work out the value of a parent’s estate and eventually distribute money to the beneficiaries.

If you believe your parent held shares in a listed business but can’t find any share certificates or contact details, you can check with one of the three main company registrars – Capita Registrars, Computershare and Equiniti.

The Investment Association can also help find lost funds from its members including major asset managers and investing platforms.

Also, check whether your parent had a financial adviser, as they may well have all the information you need about your loved one’s pensions, savings and investments.

Check for bereavement benefits

If your parent left a surviving spouse or partner, you may want to help them apply for the Bereavement Support Payment (BSP). This has replaced widowed parent’s allowance, bereavement allowance and bereavement payment.

This is for those who are under state pension age when their partner died, and living in the UK or a country that pays bereavement benefits. The deceased must have paid National Insurance contributions (NICs) for at least 25 weeks in any one tax year since 6 April 1975, or died because of an accident or disease at work.

The payment isn’t means-tested, but payments are higher for those who are entitled to receive child benefit at the time their partner died.

To get the full amount, a claim must be made within three months of the death – after this, the amount you get will reduce. If the person died more than 21 months ago, you may not be able to make a claim.

Now read: What is probate? How it works and how to execute a loved one’s will

Remember, you are not alone

It may be tempting to keep busy – and there is certainly a lot to sort out – but take time to grieve and process the loss of a parent.

Dr Marianne Trent of Good Thinking Psychological Services, says you should remember it’s okay to ask friends and family for help and support.

“This might be having people help with chores, childcare or just physically being by your side as you do some of the “death-min”, like booking an appointment to register the death,” she said.

“It might even just be being at the other end of texts or WhatsApp messages as you do all of these things and encounter all of those first times without your parent being here any more.”

There are lots of resources for bereavement support online, which can all help to manage grief.

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