Notify companies and value the estate
There are a few reasons for notifying a company of the death, including:
- collecting assets
- paying off debts
- cancelling services
Before you get in touch, understanding what the ultimate aim of notifying them is. This will give you more confidence and hopefully reduce the number and duration of interactions you’ll need to have with them.
Look for online guidance first
The first place to look up what to do would be a company’s website.
An increasing number of companies have created bereavement guides and online notification methods. Often they will clearly outline the steps you’ll need to take to deal with them.
You can also use a service called the “Death Notification Service” that will allow you to notify multiple organisations at the same time.
Types of companies to notify
The ultimate aim is to either get an asset holder to send you money or transfer an asset into a beneficiary’s name. Ideally, they will release money or assets to you almost straight away if you fall under their ‘probate threshold’.
At this early stage, your priorities are to:
- find out what the balance/value of the asset was on the date of death
- find out if they’ll need to see confirmation/probate to let you sell or transfer the asset
Most companies will want to see an original death certificate which is why buying extra copies from the registry office is a good idea. A few companies now accept them by email or by uploading them to their websites.
If they won’t accept it digitally, you’ll have to go into a branch or post it. If you post a death certificate it’s worth doing it by recorded delivery so it doesn’t get lost. Make sure you ask the company to send it back the same way.
When contacting companies that the deceased owed money to, the main idea is to make sure they don’t harass you while you deal with the estate. It can be a good idea to reassure them they will get paid when you have access to money and ask that they be patient so they don’t pass the debt on to a debt collection agency (who definitely will cause you hassle).
You want to find out what the balance of the debt was on the date of death; also try and get a note of the daily interest that is accruing so you can prioritise paying high-interest debts to maximise the value of the estate.
There are a lot of reasons you might want to notify a non-asset/debt holder, for example cancelling a contract or removing the deceased from a mailing list. Try to be clear about your desired outcome before you contact them.