Frequently Asked Questions

What happens when we are notified of a death?

Once we are notified of a death, our Bereavement Support Service aims to contact you within 2 working days to explain the next steps and possible timescales. Wherever possible we will try to do this via your preferred method of communication.

What documents do we need?

Please see the documents detailed in the Useful Checklist but we may need more once we have established whether there is any entitlement to benefits.

What is a person's Next of Kin?

The term “next of kin” has traditionally been used to refer to a person’s closest living relative. But despite the fact that people use it a lot there’s no official definition for next of kin in UK law.

What is a Personal Representative?

The Personal Representative, is the individual who is responsible for dealing with the deceased member's estate. They may also be known as the executor or administrator of the estate.

Who is the Executor?

The person who administers probate is known as the 'executor', and is generally appointed in the deceased's Will. In most cases, the executor will be a family member or friend of the deceased. But it's also possible to appoint a professional executor, typically a solicitor or will writer. Professional executors will expect to be paid from the proceeds of the estate for carrying out this duty. They normally carry out the entire probate process and receive a fee for this, too.

What is Probate?

Probate is the process of dealing with the estate of someone who has died, which generally means clearing their debts and distributing their assets in accordance with their will.

What are Letters of Administration?

Letters of Administration are a version of a grant of probate needed when there is no valid Last Will and Testament. Essentially, the next of kin can apply for the Grant in the same order as people inherit under the Rules of Intestacy:

  1. Legal spouse / civil partner – but not common law spouse.
  2. Children of the deceased including legally adopted children.
  3. The deceased’s parents if living.
  4. The deceased’s brothers and sisters of the full blood.
How does Probate work?

The Executor will need to gather in all the deceased person's assets and distribute them to the beneficiaries. This will involve notifying banks, building societies, relevant government departments (such as the council and HMRC) of the person's death, settling up any accounts they hold, tallying up their assets and liabilities, paying off any inheritance tax that might be owed, and then distributing their assets.

When do we need to see Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration?

Sight of the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration are not required where there are no further benefits payable but this will be required when there are benefits to be paid to the Estate. The Bereavement Support Service will be able to confirm this further when they contact you.

What are WTW guidelines for accepting scanned certificates / documents?

We can accept documents scanned and sent to us by email. The scan must be legible and easy to read, clearly showing the whole certificate or document, including stamps and reference numbers. If you do not have a scanner you can send us a clear photograph using a smartphone or another device. Send certificates or documents using an identifiable email address eg ‘’. Ideally the email domain should be provided by a recognisable, legitimate provider, such as Outlook, Gmail or BTinternet. The document should be password protected wherever possible. Please go to Certificate Information for further details.

What is a certified copy?

We may ask you to provide a certified copy of a certificate or document. This is where a document is confirmed to be a true copy of the original document by getting it signed and dated by a professional person.

Who can certify a certificate?

A document must be certified by a professional person or someone well-respected in the community. They could be one of the following:

  • bank or building society official
  • councillor
  • minister of religion
  • dentist
  • chartered accountant
  • solicitor or notary
  • teacher or lecturer

The person you ask should not be:

  • related to you
  • living at the same address
  • in a relationship with you.
How to certify a document?

Take the photocopied document and the original document and ask the person to certify the copy by:

  • writing 'Certified to be a true copy of the original seen by me' on the document
  • signing and dating the document
  • printing their name under the signature
  • adding their occupation, address and telephone number

Support and guidance can be found here.