The logistics of bereavement

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
Back story:

At the end of April, a very good friend of mine died tragically as the result of a fall at home. I'd only seen him a few hours before.

He was South African with no immediate family here. I and SWMBO have had to deal with (some of) his affairs. This involved getting in touch with employers, freezing bank accounts, contacting pensions companies and so on.

What has become depressingly familiar is that none of these organisations, in their various dial-in options, have the ability to get straight through to anyone who deals with bereavements - they may have bereavement teams (of, as I am learning highly variable but usually poor utility) but you simply cannot get at them.

When you finally do, they have no facility to deal with you via email. Many will not accept interim death certificates. When you finally speak to someone and ask for an email address, there is either a refusal ("We don't do things via email.") or there is only an 'enquiries@...' address available.

The standard of care in this country for those having to deal with someone's affairs is shocking.

The government has at least set up a 'Tell us once' page, which allows many public-sector organisations (DVLA, Passport Office, etc.) to be told with a single mouse-click/electronic version of a death certificate.

The private sector, given that we are 16 months in pandemic and lockdowns of varying severities, is woefully off the pace.

Oh, and, "We are currently experiencing very high call volumes..."
 
When we were dealing with the death of the step kids father we experienced similar.

Some companies were really on the ball, some were utter pish. The one utilities company is still sending letters to a dead bloke despite the fact that they have been told on at least 5 occasions that he's dead and the Stepdaughter is the executor of the estate etc etc..

That said, we had some Excellent advice from Arrsers about how to negotiate the process.
 
When we were dealing with the death of the step kids father we experienced similar.

Some companies were really on the ball, some were utter pish. The one utilities company is still sending letters to a dead bloke despite the fact that they have been told on at least 5 occasions that he's dead and the Stepdaughter is the executor of the estate etc etc..

That said, we had some Excellent advice from Arrsers about how to negotiate the process.
Eon?
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
I 've been executor three times, all I can say is that it does get easier with experience (practically, not emotionally).
 
A sadly recognisable tale from my experience of doing it twice. On the second occasion, the death of my father, I eventually got fed up with it as most companies seem only interested if the estate owes them. I adopted the approach that they’d not get anything from me until they’d sorted my requirements and if they had a problem with that, I’m available to attend court.

I forget which utility company it was but he was slightly in arrears on gas, £20 odd and something like £300 in credit on electricity. You can guess the rest but add in continued charging of standing charges, a phone call to the ombudsman and a lot of grief and they ended up being fined.

The solicitor was worse than useless but Dad had nominated him as he was an old friend. The only time he burst into life was to send me the bill which was an apparently standard % of the estate. That was nothing short of theft so I queried it with the Law Society and guess what? They set the % rate. As you are stuck with whomever is nominated there’s little you can do without incurring further legal costs. It is quite literally a self approved licence to rape the estate of the deceased and is IMHO a disgrace.

The best effort was his pension. They demanded a repayment of 18p. From a man who was a) dead and b) had worked for the firm for 45 years.
 

Bubbles_Barker

LE
Book Reviewer
A sadly recognisable tale from my experience of doing it twice. On the second occasion, the death of my father, I eventually got fed up with it as most companies seem only interested if you owe them. I adopted the approach that they’d not get anything from me until they’d sorted my requirements and if they had a problem with that, I’m available to attend court.

I forget which utility company it was but he was slightly in arrears on gas, £20 odd and something like £300 in credit on electricity. You can guess the rest but add in continued charging of standing charges, a phone call to the ombudsman and a lot of grief and they ended up being fined.

The best effort was his pension. They demanded a repayment of 18p. From a man who was a) dead and b) had worked for the firm for 45 years.
Did he work for BA too?
 

Blogg

LE
When my mother died the hideous experience of dealing with my father's affairs resulted in my not telling her bank she had died until everything was sorted. Bank account was by then a joint account with me so not difficult

After I told Lloyd's TSB they froze the account then took 6 weeks for a cretin in Liverpool to send me a really snotty letter going on about recovering any costs from me.

But that was OK. Told them they were welcome to the £0.27 left in the account.

Nationwide on other hand were great. Wandered in to a branch with all the necessary papers and out again within 30 minutes, all sorted.
 
Lloyds were superb with us. Mrs and her daughter went in with me and we explained the situation. I told the very nice lady that it was none of my business about anything to do with money or the estate and that I was there for moral support only. Fantastic lass, really helpful as I toddled off to look at things I can't afford, got phoned 45 minutes later, everything sorted and the balance of stepdaughters Father's account transferred to her to help with funeral costs etc, his account closed and all direct debits etc cancelled by the bank on stepdaughters behalf.
 
I'm seriously considering writing an article on it but can't decide which publication/outlet to offer it to.
For companies giving you the run around, demand details of their executive complaints team and make sure you mention the distress that has been caused by their intransigence when contacting them.
As for the article, whilst not specifically about saving money, I bet moneysavingexpert (Martin Lewis) would take it.
 

RBMK

LE
Book Reviewer
In case of my early demise I've given SWMBO specific written instructions on how to run the company bank account down and how to contact our IFA to deal with the pension side of things. That should see her and the kids financially OK for a couple of years.

Most other stuff including utilities is in joint names and paid from the joint account. Also listed are the addresses of various ombudsmen in case of issues.
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
Two years ago I dealt with probate when my mother died. She was a little sod & had money stashed away in numerous different banks. I had no proplem finding those accoounts as she said 'Everything is in the tin in my bedroom drawer'.
Utilities were straight forward & refunds given quickly.
Every bank, although sympathetic, had different requirements, some wanted the grant of probate, some paid on the death certificate. Her shares were a pain as I couldn't find a share cerificate, although they obviously knew who she was as she was a paid dividend.
Worst were DWP: when I thought everything was sorted they demanded copies of bank statements from all her accounts from up to twelve years ago. As banks are only obliged to hold seven years it caused some issues. The telling remark from one of the banks was 'Oh yes we are used to them asking for this & they know we cannot provide'. In the end they gave her account the all clear, she owed nothing.
 
Back story:

At the end of April, a very good friend of mine died tragically as the result of a fall at home. I'd only seen him a few hours before.

He was South African with no immediate family here. I and SWMBO have had to deal with (some of) his affairs. This involved getting in touch with employers, freezing bank accounts, contacting pensions companies and so on.

What has become depressingly familiar is that none of these organisations, in their various dial-in options, have the ability to get straight through to anyone who deals with bereavements - they may have bereavement teams (of, as I am learning highly variable but usually poor utility) but you simply cannot get at them.

When you finally do, they have no facility to deal with you via email. Many will not accept interim death certificates. When you finally speak to someone and ask for an email address, there is either a refusal ("We don't do things via email.") or there is only an 'enquiries@...' address available.

The standard of care in this country for those having to deal with someone's affairs is shocking.

The government has at least set up a 'Tell us once' page, which allows many public-sector organisations (DVLA, Passport Office, etc.) to be told with a single mouse-click/electronic version of a death certificate.

The private sector, given that we are 16 months in pandemic and lockdowns of varying severities, is woefully off the pace.

Oh, and, "We are currently experiencing very high call volumes..."
when my mum snuffed it a couple of years ago I had to deal with her bank, Barclays (my dad is getting ever more senile).

Despite my general contempt for such organisations the lass on the front desk and the department who dealt with such matters were actually very good.

This was before the pandemic, but from the way they dealt with it I doubt if they would be anything other than competent now.

My problem is that as my dad is going ever more ga-ga if I snuff it (due to either my alcohol consumption or continuing to go into the hills/kayaking/travel/reserves/whatever) how the hell do I make sure he is looked after?

ETA: Only child, his family all emigrated/dead. No real close friends I could load it onto, etc.
 
It has been a nightmare for my Mum, who being 80 has not only had to deal with losing her husband of 59 years but dealing with the uncompassionate arses at banks and building societies. Luckily I have been able to do some of it, but the hoops you have to jump through to satisfy THEIR systems is unbelievable.
 

Cold_Collation

LE
Book Reviewer
It has been a nightmare for my Mum, who being 80 has not only had to deal with losing her husband of 59 years but dealing with the uncompassionate arses at banks and building societies. Luckily I have been able to do some of it, but the hoops you have to jump through to satisfy THEIR systems is unbelievable.
I can bury or burn someone with an interim death certificate and yet need a full and final one for any of the financial stuff.

It's preposterous and unnecessarily hard on the emotions.
 
A slight drift.

At the time my wife died, she was in receipt of a small pension from Bucks County Council.
I telephoned to inform them of her death and end the pension payments.
The young (I figured) man on the 'phone offered commiserations and requested a copy of the death certificate.
My immediate thought was WTF, but I sent one anyway.

A short time later I was notified that I qualified for 50% of dead wife's pension.
It's only enough for a couple of bottles of wine per month, but welcome nonetheless
 
I can bury or burn someone with an interim death certificate and yet need a full and final one for any of the financial stuff.

It's preposterous and unnecessarily hard on the emotions.
It is, the Government one stop site for registering is brilliant I have to say, but anything outside that is ridiculous.
 

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