Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Returning practical items after someone dies may seem a little trivial. You may not realise what can – or should be – returned after a death. This guide can help you identify what items need to be returned and how to approach these tasks when bereaved.
Collecting personal belongings from a hospice or hospital
If your loved one passed away in a hospital or hospice, there may still be personal belongings that need to be collected. This can be an emotionally charged process, especially so if this was the last place you saw your loved one alive.
The first step is to call ahead and check if they do have any belongings that need to be collected. Valuable or personal items and paperwork will probably have been kept somewhere safe. Calling ahead of any visit can allow ward staff time to access and gather any possessions ready for your visit.
Arrange an appointment to visit the ward and check if you can take someone with you for support. Having someone accompany you can help you on the journey there and back home too. Hospital and hospice staff are of course very experienced in dealing with the bereaved. They will be able to compassionately guide and support you through this visit.
Returning medical aids and equipment
If there is loaned medical equipment in the home that belonged to the health board or care agency, contact your GP Surgery or home care agency for advice as to what needs to happen next.
There may be crutches, walking aids, wheelchairs, or medical equipment to help in and around the home. If these items are no longer required, returning them can help other people that need them.
If you privately purchased additional medical or independent living aids that are no longer needed, make enquiries with your local hospital, hospice or charity to see if they can take such donated equipment. If the items can be cleaned and disinfected, this could be a huge help to someone who may be unable to afford to purchase them.
Returning unused medications
Unused medication must be disposed of safely. Do not keep them, pass them to someone else or put them in the bin. Pay special attention to any sharps or medical waste.
Discuss with your local GP practise, Pharmacy or home care provider as to the safest and easiest way for these items to be returned and disposed of. Some practises offer a collection service from the home. This is helpful if transport and or time is an issue, as well as being helpful should you find this process too difficult to face.
Returning a driving licence
The DVLA will need to be notified of the death. If your local authority is in a Tell Us Once area, they will be notified automatically.
If your area is not in this scheme, you will need to notify the DVLA of the death directly. You will need to return the driving licence and provide a covering letter with certain details. Further details about the DVLA’s processes are available online.
You will need to notify the DVLA directly if you are selling or keeping the vehicle or keeping a personalised vehicle registration number.
In Northern Ireland, the process is slightly different. You need to return the driving licence to the DVA, providing a cover letter notifying them of the death and explain your relationship to the deceased.
If you cannot locate their driving licence, you will still need to notify them and provide as much detail as possible such as the deceased’s name, address and date of birth plus your relationship to them to help them locate the license details.
Returning a Passport
If the person was still employed at the time of their death, they may still have work items that need to be returned to their employer.
Contact their line manager or HR department and explain what items you still have access to. If the items need to be returned, ask if they could arrange for a colleague or line manager to collect the items from your home if you do not feel able to return them to their office or place of work.
Laptops, mobile phones, keys, ID badges, paperwork, credit/fuel cards, uniforms, work tools and vehicles will all need to be returned at some stage. There may also be some personal items in a place of work that need to be returned to you. Use this opportunity and ask if they can be returned at the time of any collection or visit to the place of work.
Gather any outstanding library books and return them as soon as possible. Contact the library to let them know the person has passed away so their account can be closed and avoid any unnecessary fines accumulating.
If you are unsure what books in their home belong to the library, they should be able to help you identify what books the deceased still had on loan and need to be returned.
Organising your practical life
Creating your own Sunset Plan can help you record your important information such as driving licence numbers, employers contact details, location of your passport and medical information. Help your loved ones smoothly work through the practical tasks needed after your death by organising your life today.
Why not share this post on social media? Help a friend or relative who may be facing these issues and could use some support with our useful guides tackling what to do when someone dies.