Check for important paperwork

Depending on whether the deceased had documented their wishes for after his or her death, you may find some of the following paperwork.

Funeral wishes

These may be found in a Will, pre-paid funeral plan or advance funeral wishes statement.

Organ donation

You should contact the doctor or hospital as soon as you can to advise them that the deceased wished to donate their organs. If you are unable to find any paperwork and are not sure what someone wanted, you can contact the NHS Organ Donor Register on 0845 606 0400.

Body donation for medical research or teaching

If you find paperwork that confirms that the deceased wished to donate their body for medical research or teaching purposes, you should contact the Medical School as soon as possible. They will provide advice and information on what happens next. To find the nearest Medical School, if this is not clear from the documentation you have found, you can call the Human Tissue Authority on 020 7269 1900 or visit the Human Tissue Authority website.

Other important paperwork

These documents will be helpful later on, particularly if you need to apply for probate, so keep them all in a safe place. Find out more about which companies and organisations will need to be informed.

  • The Will
  • Birth and marriage or civil partnership certificates
  • Death certificates of a previous spouse(s)
  • Divorce papers showing any previous surnames of the deceased
  • Any Deed Poll document showing a change of name
  • Documents relating to state pension or benefits including the National Insurance number
  • NHS Medical card (this can be given to the Registrar of Deaths)
  • Pension certificates
  • Insurance policies
  • Bank and building society accounts

Finding the Will

If you are not able to find the Will it may be held at the deceased's solicitor or bank. Sometimes Wills are deposited at the Safe Custody Department of the Principal Probate Registry in London. If this is the case, there should be a deposit certificate for the Will amongst the deceased's possessions. Please call us for the contact details of the Probate Registry.

Call us for bereavement advice

Contact us on 0800 634 9494. We're open from 9am to 5pm Mon - Fri. We are closed on bank holidays.

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