What to do when someone dies – your financial obligations

Dealing with the death of a loved one is never easy. In an attempt to make the practical tasks required in this difficult period a little easier to navigate we have put together a summary of the steps required.

Last updated :15 May 2020

This guide covers the first steps you have to go through after the death of a loved one, such as; registering the death, notifying relevant parties and arranging the funeral. There is also information on handling the estate; establishing the assets and liabilities of the deceased and administering the will.


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Personal tax; if the deceased was within self-assessment, it will be necessary to ensure all tax returns to the date of death have been submitted. There is an automated process for those not within self-assessment. HMRC will send a calculation to the executors to reconcile the final position. The final income tax position will need to be taken into consideration as part of the estate administration. 

Inheritance tax; IHT forms need to be submitted within one year of death. The first payment on account of inheritance tax should be made by the end of the sixth month after the date of death. An application for the IHT reference number should be made to HMRC at least three weeks before the payment is due. This will all need to be handled before the grant of probate may be obtained. Where no IHT is payable, or a formal valuation will take some time, best estimates may be used in order to obtain the grant. The application may be made online, but the required documents will need to be sent by post. Once the grant is obtained, the executors may begin settling liabilities and the transmission of the assets. 

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