How long does it take to unravel a life after a death?

How long does it take to unravel a life after a death

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The days after the death

The days that follow a death can be overwhelming. There is so much to arrange in a very short space of time. Once family and friends have been notified, funeral arrangements made and the final farewell has taken place – where do you start with the long process ahead of unravelling someone’s life?

This part of dealing with a death is often overlooked. The length of time it will take to unravel a life is very difficult to predict. Not only are there lots of practical tasks needed, it can be a huge emotional struggle. It is not something that should be rushed in to. However depending on the circumstances and the relationship you had with the person – you may be faced with external pressure to get some tasks completed sooner rather than later.

Busy lives

If the responsibility of dealing with someone’s arrangements falls to you, you should be prepared for the length of time needed for this journey. You will likely have other demands on your time such as work, children or caring responsibilities to juggle too. Add in the responsibility need to resolve someone else’s practical, legal and financial tasks in to your hectic life – this will not be a quick or easy task.

There are many variables that can dictate roughly how long this process may take you. If you have lost a partner, it can be assumed that you will continue to live in your shared home, using the existing household services.

If the deceased lived alone and the property needs to be sold or returned back to the landlord – this will take significantly longer and involve much more practical effort.

What are the general tasks required after someone dies?

There will be lots of tasks to consider depending on the persons particular circumstances. This list is by no means exhaustive – there will be endless tasks to work through.

First month

  • Register the death
  • Make funeral arrangements
  • Hold the funeral and any wake or gathering after the service
  • Notify Solicitors – locate the most recent will
  • Notify employers or business associates
  • Notify key services such as banks and health care services
  • Notify Department of Work and Pensions for any benefits including Housing benefit
  • Notify the landlord or mortgage provider
  • Make immediate arrangements for the ongoing care of family, dependents and pets
Writing a will

First 6 – 12 months

  • Make longer term arrangements for any dependent children, adults and pets
  • Contact with Solicitors regarding the instructions left in the will – or discuss actions required if the person did not leave a will
  • Apply for Grant of Probate
  • Contact all Household services and Service providers to close accounts or transfer responsibility for future bills
  • Contact financial institutions to close accounts or transfer services to another name
  • Possessions emptied from the house – clothes, belongings, valuables etc

Over 1 year

  • Has the house been sold? Or returned to the landlord?
  • Has the property been fully emptied?
  • Has Grant of Probate been awarded?
  • Has the Estate been finalised and all assets divided and distributed?
  • Have any remaining financial accounts been settled?
  • Have all vehicles been sold or transferred?

Time and distance considerations

Now consider if you became responsible for all of those tasks – balanced in with your day to day life. How would you manage this? How would someone else manage if they had to go through these processes on your behalf, if something happened to you?

If there is any geographical distance between you and your family, this will make dealing with a death from a distance a further challenge.  

Plan ahead

Having watched family members go through this, it is surprising how long it can take to resolve someone’s affairs after death. Every case will vary depending on their personal circumstances, the family dynamics of those involved  as well as how organised the deceased was. Be prepared that as a general rule, this will take at least 12 months – in most cases much longer.

Working through the practical arrangements and all obstacles of doing this for a family member led to the creation of The Sunset Plan. We aim to encourage and empower people to get really organised as part of your everyday life. Creating a clear and detailed plan for others to follow using our secure digital vault service, can help people when dealing with your life after death.

In addition to planning ahead for yourself, consider your family and friends. If one day these responsibilities will fall to you, encourage others to do some advance end of life planning. Having important conversations about the practical details now, can provide peace of mind. Know that whenever your time may come, you will have provided clear instructions in your Sunset Plan for others to follow.

Why not share this post on social media and encourage someone to plan ahead today.

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