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Dealing with the death of a loved one during the COVID-19 pandemic

Wills & Inheritance - April 17th, 2020

Dealing with the estate of a loved one is stressful and upsetting at any time but during the strict lockdown period, it can easily become overwhelming. Fortunately, Eatons are here to support you.

Dealing with the estate of a loved one or friend is stressful and upsetting at any time but during the strict lockdown period, it can easily become overwhelming. Fortunately, Eatons are here to support you through all aspects and provide you with straightforward, helpful advice.

The first issue that arises is how to arrange an initial meeting with us. In accordance with Government guidance, our offices are closed to the public but as a business, we remain open as our probate team are working remotely, and safely, from home.

This means that we are able to have an initial conversation over the phone or by video calling including Skype, Zoom, Facetime, or whichever system is best for you. This means you can seek the legal advice you may need while maintaining social distancing.

The steps for arranging to deal with the estate remain the same as at all times, but, please be aware that the process may take longer than usual, for obvious reasons. We will correspond with you by email whenever possible, but if documents need to be sent to you for signature in the post, or if you do not have an email address, and prefer to communicate by letter, then there may be a slight delay.

What you will need to do

1. Obtain a medical certificate

When a person dies a doctor will issue a certificate that will give the details of the cause of death, if known. This is being sent directly to the registrar or, in certain circumstances, to the coroner.

2. Register the death

Register office staff have been categorised as key workers so they are still working but currently only registering deaths over the telephone. Call them first to arrange a telephone appointment. They will only arrange the appointment after they have received the doctor’s certificate, which the doctor/hospital will scan and send to them. They will require the following information from you:

  • The full name of the deceased
  • Maiden name of a woman and any other previous surnames, if applicable. You can also record any other names by which the person was known
  • The date and place of birth of the deceased (town and county in the UK or, if overseas, this is the country of birth as it exists today)
  • The date and place of death of the deceased
  • Their occupation or former occupation
  • Their last usual address
  • The name of the spouse (even if deceased)
  • Details of the informant
  • Whether the deceased received a State Pension or other pension or benefits from public funds
  • The name of the person dealing with their estate

They will issue a green form that allows the funeral or cremation to go ahead, which will be emailed to the funeral directors/crematorium. The death certificates will be posted to you.

3. Arrange the funeral

Contact a local funeral director to make the necessary arrangements. At the current time there is a restriction on the number of people allowed to attend the service, so you may also like to plan for a memorial service to be held when the situation is back to normal.

4. Locate any Wills

Hopefully, the deceased will have left a Will in a place that is easy to find. This will set out any bequests that they want to make and may well also include details of their wishes for their funeral. If they have not left a Will, they will have died intestate, in which case the distribution of their estate will be made following a procedure that we will be able to explain to you.

5. Contact Eatons to seek legal advice on how to proceed

Get in touch to let us know which parts of handling the probate process you would like us to handle. These range from simply making all the necessary legal arrangements to handling the whole estate and distributing any bequests.

6. Bundle any paperwork you have found together

To help us, collect all the relevant paperwork you can find relating to the deceased’s financial affairs. This includes bank statements, details of investments and insurance policies. We will be able to advise you of the full list of documentation needed. Then our specialist team will be able to help guide you through a difficult time when so much else is uncertain in the world.

We hope that this brief guide has been useful to you. To make full use of our service simply contact your nearest Eatons office or by email at



DISCLAIMER: the contents of this article and any documents on our website are not intended to constitute legal advice but are intended for general information purposes only. We are not responsible for any loss resulting from acts or omissions taken in respect of the content presented herein. Please see our legal and regulatory information, privacy and terms policy on our website.