Once a death has been officially registered, you will need to start the process of contacting those organisations with which the deceased held their financial and property related affairs. All of these companies will need to see an official copy of the death certificate in order to close and settle the estate.
In this guide, we take a look at how many death certificates you are likely to need, who needs to see them as well as answer some common questions about getting copies of a death certificate.
How Many Death Certificates Will I Need?
The number of death certificates that you need will be dictated by the number of official organisations you will need to notify and how you will do this.
For instance, if the deceased had a single bank account with no savings, pension accounts or private investments then you may only need a few copies of the death certificate.
If you intend to visit their bank in person, they will often take a copy of the certificate whilst you wait. In which case, you will receive the original death certificate back to use again.
If you are dealing with the finances, property and will of the deceased then it is generally recommended that you request 5-10 copies of the death certificate at the time you first receive it.
Should I Get Copies When I First Register the Death?
It is far cheaper to get the right amount of copies of the death certificate when you first register the death than paying for additional copies at a later stage.
It is not the person with whom matters of the estate are discussed as these duties fall to the Executor of the Will.
Local register offices in the UK charge different fees for this service (see ‘How Much Do Death Certificates Cost?’, below) but you can save a significant amount of money by following this advice.
Who Needs a Copy of the Death Certificate?
Almost all companies, organisations and businesses that you contact to notify them of a death in the UK will request to see a copy of the death certificate; however you are only required to provide a certified copy in respect of the deceased’s finances and property.
You will therefore need to provide a copy of the death certificate to the following organisations:
- Building societies
- Mortgage lenders
- Private pension companies
- Private investment companies
- Credit card companies
- Loan companies
- Insurance companies
- Any other financial institute where the deceased held an account or property related investment.
You should note that the Department for Work and Pensions are notified separately using a form which is issued by the Coroner at the time you register the death. This means that any state pensions or benefits can be adjusted and closed accordingly. In Northern Ireland, this is dealt with by the Social Security Agency.
Can I Make Copies of a Death Certificate?
It is important to note that Crown Copyright officially prohibits the copying of official documents that bear its seal and death certificates may not be copied for public use or a copy used in place of an original document as issued by the General Register Office.
However, it is generally accepted that you can make copies of a death certificate for your own personal files and records.
All financial organisations will require to see an original copy of the death certificate.
If you visit a bank in person then they may make a copy of the death certificate for their own records whilst you wait. In this instance, you will usually be handed the original back.
How Much Do Death Certificates Cost?
Whilst there is no charge for registering a death at the local register office which provides you with a green certificate to allow the funeral to take place, copies of death certificates are chargeable items.
If you have to order a copy of a death certificate after one was initially issued then you can either do this via the General Register Office (GRO) or via the local register office where the document was originally issued.
Costs of a Death Certificate - GRO
Certificates ordered on a standard service with the GRO which take up to 14 days to process are current charged at £9.25 each; a priority service is available at a cost of £23.40 per certificate and are sent out on the next working day.
If a death was registered overseas with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office then you may need to pay additional courier fees. The current estimated costs for this are given by the gov.uk website as being in the order of £50.
Costs of a Death Certificate – Local Register Office
The charge for a copy of the death certificate when obtained from the local register office where notice of death was recorded is cheaper than using the GRO’s service.
Costs vary by local register office but are in the region of £4-£10 if requested at the time of registration.
If you require a copy at a later date then these charges do increase and may cost up to £15 depending on the office.
Please note that prices are correct at the time of writing (January 2019).