How do I notify a death?

Updated on 24 October 2018

In this section, we point out guidance to follow on registering a death and in particular look at what steps to take for tax purposes.

What should I do when someone dies?

This website concentrates on tax and related information. To find out about more general things you need to do when someone dies, including registering the death, see the guidance on the following government websites:

A broader range of information on bereavement-related matters can also be found on GOV.UK.

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What is Tell Us Once?

Tell Us Once is a service available in most parts of England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland has a Bereavement Service, but this only applies for social security/state benefits. Your local authority will tell you if they offer the service when you go to register the death. You can find out more about the service on the GOV.UK website.

If you use Tell Us Once, the information you give is shared with many government services and departments that need to know about the death. This should mean that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is notified of the death so that the deceased’s tax affairs can be resolved.

If you do not or cannot use the Tell Us Once service, you must let the relevant government departments know about the death yourself.

Even if you have used Tell Us Once, it is important to check what needs to be done to finalise the deceased’s tax affairs, and what tax matters need to be dealt with relating to the deceased’s estate. Also, a death can affect a surviving spouse, civil partner or other dependant’s tax affairs, so it is important to consider those issues too. Other pages of this guide cover each of these areas.

We understand that the Tell Us Once service does not cover student loans. You might know that the deceased had a student loan, or you might see from their payslips or tax papers that they were making repayments towards one. You will need to contact the Student Loans Company to get the loan cancelled. Their repayment website explains how.

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Do I need to contact HM Revenue & Customs?

If you registered the death and used the Tell Us Once service you should not need to contact HMRC again, provided you opted at that time for HMRC to be notified.

But if you could not use Tell Us Once, or chose not to, the executor or personal representative for the deceased should contact HMRC on the Bereavement helpline to let them know about the death. You will need to provide HMRC with the deceased’s full name and address and National Insurance number (NINO).

Once they have been notified of the death, HMRC will write to the executor or personal representative regarding any tax matters arising in connection with the estate. But it is wise to check the situation – for example to see if a tax repayment needs to be claimed, or if there are outstanding tax returns to be submitted.

There is more information on the tax duties of the executor or personal representative in the section ‘what if I am an executor or personal representative?

The Tell Us Once notification to HMRC should also cover HMRC-administered benefits such as tax credits. If Tell Us Once was not used, HMRC’s different offices may need to be notified separately of the death for tax, national insurance, tax credits and child benefit purposes. See also ‘What is the effect of death on state benefits?’  

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Where can I find more information?

Your local authority might be able to direct you to sources of bereavement support. Find out what might be available by using the following websites:

England or Wales – use the facility on GOV.UK
Scotland – visit the Scottish Government website
Northern Ireland – visit nidirect

You can find out where to get help from third party organisations in our ‘getting help section’.

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