Registering a Death? How many Certificates do you need?

Fortunately, it is something that we don’t have to do very often, registration of the death of a close friend or family member. In England this should be done within five days after the death, and to achieve a registration you will need full names and address of the deceased, your own full names and address, the dates and place of birth and death, your relationship to the deceased, and, perhaps most obviously, a certificate of the fact of death signed by a doctor stating that the named person has, in fact, died, and stating the cause.

You will be asked how many certificates you would like, and this is where a little confusion
comes in. Of course you do not need a solicitor for any of the work in administering a deceased’s estate but there is one specific matter where it may be helpful to have one.

Around a dozen years ago there was a high level dispute between the government and the Law
Society over the copyright issue relating to death certificates. For years solicitors had been photocopying certificates and no one thought there was anything amiss until HMG pointed out the breach of copyright. The dispute was resolved by the Law Society negotiating a simple
solution, that if a solicitor certified that he had seen a valid certificate this would be sufficient for all banks, building societies and similar institutions.

As a result a modest saving of time trouble and expense is achieved. Almost certainly the family would want a certificate but the solicitor would only need just one. Some registrars argue that there should be a certificate, costing £4 each, for every asset in the estate, which simply is not true. And it may be worth mentioning that these certificates are not “original” certificates at all. The actual certificate is the one that is written in the registrar’s ledger. The paper versions that you buy are all just certified copies, and they would cost £8 each if obtained on a later date.

A similar saving of fees arises in the matter of probate fees. If lay persons apply for a grant of probate the fee (£215) is slightly more than if they use a solicitor (£155). But as this article is not trying to deceive anyone, you will certainly recognise the solicitor will also be making a charge.

For further advice about registering deaths and obtaining probate contact Sharon Brett at:-
Messrs Pulham & Co
Egmere House,
Market Place,
IP17 1AG
Telephone (01728) 602084 or e-mail