Having to tell people that a loved one has died is a very difficult task, at what is already a difficult time. Not only are there friends and other family members who have to be notified, but there are also companies and organisations who should be told too.

Welcome help

This can seem overwhelming initially, so it’s important to take steps to make the process as easy on you as possible. You may find it helpful to make a list of all the people who will need to be informed, which you can then break down by the people you want to talk to face to face, or the people who can be informed by telephone or letter. Not only can you work through this gradually over the coming days and weeks, but you can also ask other people to help you. 

If you have a large family, or groups of people who live in different areas, then it’s likely that  there will be people who can take responsibility for spreading the news within their branches of the family or friend groups. You may also want to ask them if you can contact them later once the funeral has been arranged to pass on information, so that they can spread the word to the same people.

Decide on the format

While there will be some people you can tell over the telephone, there may be others who you feel should hear the news face to face. If you’re able to delegate out the conversations to other family members, so that you don’t have to do them all alone, then this can help to share the burden. However, it’s best to do this within the first day or two; you want to avoid people finding out about the death by accident, as this can cause unnecessary additional upset.

Make sure to give yourself plenty of time when you’re telling people, whether on the phone or in person, so that you don’t have to rush. If possible, share the news in a safe and private setting, without interruptions.

Official organisations

When someone dies, there are also several companies and organisations that should be notified. Whilst it may seem like an additional burden, letting these businesses know can avoid the distress caused by them contacting you unexpectedly if they are not aware. This could include health professionals, agencies providing care, such as social services or day centres, or any employers. You will also need to inform insurance providers, banks, pension providers, utility companies and local government offices, among other companies. You can find a full list of people to inform on many support websites, such as the Bereavement Advice Centre. 

You may also want to use a service like the Bereavement Advice Centre’s Junk Mail Suppression Service, in order to stop unwanted marketing post from arriving. 

Tell Us Once

Tell Us Once is a government service designed to help with the process of informing organisations about a death. This official service allows you to report a death to all relevant government departments in one go, including HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and your local council. 

Upon registration of death, the registrar will inform you whether this service is available in your area, before providing you with the telephone contact number for the service and a unique reference number allowing you to use the Tell Us Once service over the phone or online.

Before you use the service, it is important that you have all the necessary personal details of the person who has died. You will be required to provide their:

• Date of birth

• National Insurance number

• Passport number

• Driving licence

• Vehicle registration number

You will also need to provide information including details of their surviving spouse or civil partner and details of any benefit or entitlements they were getting. For a full list of the information required, see the government website for details

Please note that this service can only be used within 28-days from the date you register the death.

In the event that this service is unavailable in your area, you will need to let the relevant government of authorities know about the death yourself.
Visit the gov.uk website to find out more about the Tell Us Once service and the information you will need to provide.