Advising clients in bereavement

  • List why there is a wellbeing gap among those aged above 60.
  • Describe the grant of probate process.
  • Identify how much a funeral costs and what you can do to help bereaved clients.

On his death, it is then left to the family to pick up the pieces and follow the breadcrumb trail to where the finances lead.

This is a position similar to the one I now find myself in. So, where to begin?

Getting personal

The first thing that strikes you from the very start is that dealing with a loved one’s financial affairs is the last thing that you want to do.

My father kept all of his details in a locked briefcase and, even though I have had many years of experience with this kind of thing, nothing quite prepares you for having to deal with your own family’s belongings after they are gone.

It feels very eerie going through someone else’s things, knowing they were the last person to have put them in that order, in a certain way that was personal to them.

And hidden amongst it all are personal letters, correspondence with friends and family, and hardest of all, the photographs that he held most dear to him.

Imagine what it is like for your customers who may have much less of an understanding of financial and other affairs; who do not know who to ask for help and where to get it, and, quite frankly, have no idea where to start.

A trusted financial adviser is a critical resource in this scenario.

When bereavement occurs there are several support services that kick in behind the scenes.

The starting point is the bereavement services, followed by the “Tell Us Once Service”, which will deal with state pensions and benefits and pass on any entitlements to the surviving spouse.

They will also cancel driving licences, blue badges, passports and other state documents, as well as keeping you informed of progress.

This service is provided by the hospital and the registrar when registering the death.

It is always worth your clients thinking about the number of different account and investment providers that need to be informed at this stage so relatives can ask for extra copies of the death certificates, which can be sent off concurrently.

Otherwise certified copies will need to be sought at a later date, which could prove time-consuming and stressful.

Grant of probate

On death, a close family member (or sometimes a friend) will be granted the legal right to deal with the deceased’s assets.

To be granted this right, they will need to apply for a ‘grant of probate’.

Essentially, it is the legal right to administer someone’s estate – their funds, property and possessions.

The people who have the right to apply for a grant of probate are the personal representatives (PRs) of the estate.