When a family member passes away there are many things to take care of. As well as dealing with the emotional aspect, there is much to do on the financial side.
It is important to address things that need immediate attention to ensure insurances remain valid. Home insurance is an important one – the property should still be covered whether there’s a surviving spouse or not.
What happens if you die without leaving a Will?
Where there is a remaining spouse or partner, contact the insurance companies to make arrangements to keep the home covered.
You may have buildings insurance and contents insurance with the same provider or different providers. Contact the relevant insurance company or companies as soon as possible to get your buildings and contents insurance policies put into your name.
Make sure the level of cover is appropriate
If your home has less in it – for instance if others have just inherited some of your partner’s possessions – you might be able to reduce your contents cover. Work out the value of your possessions, including any items of high worth, and update your contents insurance.
Where a policy is in the name of the person that has passed away, some insurers may be willing to amend the existing policy into the name of the living spouse, but this may mean the completion of a proposal form with their details. Other insurers may insist on the cancellation of the policy and re-issue in the name of the living spouse.
Martin Bridges at the British Insurance Broker’s Association (BIBA) says: “If the policy is in joint names, then the insurance company should be able to seamlessly amend the policy into the sole name of the living spouse. Insurers may require you to present a death certificate.”
What happens to debts when someone dies?
Empty homes are a target for burglars
If a bereavement means that a home is now empty, temporary arrangements will need to be made until longer term decisions can be made.
While you will want to cancel things like the TV Licence and the home phone and broadband, it’s important to keep contents insurance going as sadly empty homes are a target for burglars. The buildings cover will still need to continue to protect against damage.
The deceased's bank will have cancelled all direct debits and standing orders. So if cover is to run on, other payment arrangements will have to be made.
You will need to tell the insurance company that the property is empty.
The problem with empty properties is that they are “non standard risks” and many insurers just don’t want to get involved, as you may only need the insurance for a few months. You may have to shop around to find one that can help.
Find out more about the different types of funeral.
Securing a home
Securing an empty property is important so you have peace of mind it’s protected from unwanted guests. Sadly, empty houses can be a magnet for burglars, so it's important to check it's secure as soon as you can.
- Ensure the house is safely locked with all windows closed properly.
- Cancel any daily newspaper or milk deliveries – ask a friend or relative to help with this if you don't feel up to it.
- Regularly collect post so it doesn't mount up or hang out of the letter box. Ask any trusted neighbours to assist with anything poking out.
- Leave your contact details with a trusted neighbour so they can let you know of any suspicious activity.
- Consider putting lights on a timer. Especially in winter when there are far less hours of daylight and an empty house will become more obvious.
For more useful information about dealing with death and bereavement, browse our articles.