What you can prepare if someone is receiving end of life care

If someone you love is receiving end of life ('palliative') care, it’s normal to start thinking about what you'll need to do when the times comes.

You can start preparing to plan the funeral, deal with finances and property, and who you need to inform.

End of life care (sometimes called ‘palliative’ care) is when someone is ill and not expected to get better. People might spend the time at home, or - if they need closer support - in a hospice, hospital, or care home. 

It’s normal to start thinking about what to do when the time comes, or you may have been asked to think about making arrangements by the hospital or care home. For example you might prepare to: 

  • arrange the funeral

  • deal with any money, property or debts they have (their ‘estate’)

  • tell organisations, like banks, government departments and utility companies

For some people, this can feel disloyal or ‘tempting fate’. But preparing now can provide comfort and focus at a confusing time. When the time comes, you'll have a better understanding of your loved ones wishes.

Preparing now can also mean they have more time to be with friends and family when it matters most.

You’ll need to call a doctor to confirm the cause of death if your loved one dies at home

The hospital where they had treatment can provide the number of a doctor who’s available 24 hours a day.

Find out who the next of kin is

Next of kin is the term used to describe your loved one’s closest living relative, such as their spouse or civil partner.  

The next of kin’s responsibilities usually include:

  • being the first person notified about the death and telling other friends and family

  • dealing with money and property

You’ll usually need to make arrangements with the next of kin (if it isn’t you). Or your loved one can update their will and name you as the person who should do certain tasks. 

Check if they have a will

Check if they have a will and whether it's up to date and accurate. You might need to spend time finding their will, especially if they made it a long time ago. 

A will usually has information about what will happen to their money, property and savings. Some people will also have left some wishes for their funeral in their will too.  

If they don’t have a will 

You can get a will made quickly if they don’t have one. It makes dealing with their property, money and possessions smoother when the time comes. For example, if they haven’t named someone they’d prefer to arrange a funeral. 

Get a will made urgently with Farewill

Farewill can help you write your will within a few days and we’ll send one of our will specialists urgently to get the details.

If they can’t make a will

Sometimes someone may not be well enough to make a will, for example because they can’t show that they are able to make decisions for themselves. 

If they can’t make a will, next of kin will usually be responsible for dealing with property, money and the funeral. 

If the will needs to be updated 

Check whether the will still accurately lists their circumstances, like property they own or money they have. If their circumstances have changed, you’ll need to update the will. 

Plans or wishes for the funeral

Your loved one may have left certain wishes in their will, if they have one. For example, what kind of service they’d like, where they’d like to have it, any religious elements, or songs and readings.

Depending on your situation, you may also have the opportunity to talk with your loved one about any wishes they have or people they’d like to invite. This may feel strange or morbid to discuss, you may feel more confident planning exactly what they wanted. 

If you can’t talk to your loved one about their wishes, you can talk with friends and family about any thoughts you have or any conversations you may have had.

Check if they have a funeral plan or insurance

Your loved one may have a funeral plan or insurance, which covers the cost of their funeral. You might be able to find a record of the plan with the Funeral Planning Authority.

Get the name of the company and read their terms. Some details may already be decided or paid for.

In some cases, plan providers also cover some of the costs of end of life care (often called ‘terminal illness cover’). Payments are usually fast.

Choosing a funeral director 

A funeral director is responsible for arranging every part of a funeral, including the coffin, ceremony and the burial or cremation. 

You might need to browse for funeral directors who can provide the type of funeral you’d like to arrange and at a price you can afford. 

You usually cannot pay for a funeral upfront for someone receiving end of life care, or book the date before your loved one has died. 

However, finding a funeral director you’d like to plan the funeral with or deciding certain details can mean less stress and worry when the time comes. 

Types of information you can decide now are: 

  • type of funeral (cremation or burial)

  • who might attend (if friends and family can’t attend, you might want a smaller service or no service)  

  • if a service on the day isn’t the right choice, you can plan a memorial or another way to remember your loved one 

  • any religious elements 

  • songs or readings 

  • what kind of flowers they want

  • if they want a dress code

Start planning now with Farewill

Farewill will arrange a simple direct cremation (without a service) for £850, with end-to-end care from our award-winning team. So you can say goodbye at a time and place that feels right.

You can leave your details now and we can get started right away when the times comes.

Dealing with money and property

You’ll usually need to contact organisations and businesses to let them know your loved one has died. Many people we talk to often have to spend time finding different accounts and paperwork so they can get things sorted.  

Information you need about their property, accounts and utilities

You’ll usually need to close their accounts and cancel any utilities. Start compiling a list to make this easier when the time comes.

You’ll only need to find out the name and contact details of businesses like banks, pension providers and utility companies. Once you have a death certificate you’ll be able to access them. 

It does not matter how much money is in accounts like banks and private pensions. It’s still important to find them. 

It’s useful to know where your loved one keeps their:

  • will (if they have one)

  • birth certificate

  • passport

  • driving licence 

  • national Insurance number

It’s useful to make a list of their:

  • assets (for example, properties, houses)

  • bank accounts  

  • pensions plans providers 

  • life insurance policies 

  • anywhere they owe money, including mortgages, credit cards and loans

  • utility accounts, such as water, gas, electricity and internet provider

  • standing orders and direct debits

If they have a business, it might be useful to understand whether it should be closed (‘wound up’) or transferred to another owner. 

Where to look if you’re not sure what accounts they have 

Go through recent bank statements  

Going through recent bank statements to find regular payments going out to providers such as utility companies or credit card payment. This helps you make sure that you understand what accounts and debts a person has when the time comes. 

Online accounts 

Many companies only provide digital or online-only statements or accounts. It’s useful to have usernames and passwords, if your loved one can share them. 

You can also ask them what apps they have on their phone to understand what other online-only accounts, like asset management, investment or cryptocurrency, they have.

Probate or and inheritance tax

You may need to get a legal document ( ‘probate’) to prove you have the authority to deal with someone’s estate. 

Answer a few questions to find out if you’re likely to need probate.

If you know they’ve made large financial gifts

Check bank statements over the last 7 years if you know or think that your loved one has given financial gifts to people over the years, for example money to help someone buy a house or for university. The amount of money given as gifts over the years might affect whether you need to pay inheritance tax. 

Article reviewed