Advice Guides

We understand that there can be areas that aren’t always clear, or are confusing, so we have put together some guides below, which we hope that you might find helpful.

These are only some areas, if we don’t cover something here, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We will be happy to help you.

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Advice Guides

  • Wills & Executor/Executrix

    A Will is a legal document, providing it has been correctly written, signed and dated, with the signature being witnessed by two independent witnesses.

    The purpose of a Will is to give instructions as to how your estate (everything you own, including property, money in the bank and personal possessions) will be distributed after your death.

    A Will also states who will be responsible to carry out these instructions.

    This person, or people, are called Executor or Executrix and have the legal responsibility to ensure that your instructions are complied with, provided that you have left enough assets to pay any debt that you may have.

    The immediate priority for most families is to make the funeral arrangements, which is usually done by the next-of-kin or family members working together.

    If the next-of-kin is not the Executor or Executrix, it would be helpful to inform the them at an early stage to confirm any recorded wishes or instructions regarding their funeral. If the Executor or Executrix is a Solicitor, they may well be able to help with some of the tasks ahead.

    If you have an original Will or a copy, you can open it straight away, there doesn't have to be a formal "Reading of the Will", which may be useful to tell you who the Executor is, whether there are any instructions for the funeral or remembrance or other details which may be relevant.

  • Lasting Power of Attorney(s)

    While you have the mental capacity to understand the actions you are taking, you can appoint one person, or more, as your Lasting Power of Attorney. (LPA)

    There are two types of LPA, which require separate application forms.

    The first is for financial and property matters and allows your Attorney to manage your bank accounts and other financial affairs, including selling your home if you need to move into long-term residential care. The other order is for health and welfare decisions and allows your Attorney to be actively involved in where and how you are cared for.

    The authority granted by a Lasting Power of Attorney ceases immediately on death. An Attorney should not carry out any transactions after the death. The office of the Public Guardian should be informed  of the death, by the Attorney  and the LPA documents returned to them.

  • Advance Statements (aka Living Will)

    An Advance Statement, often called a Living Will, is a document in which you give instructions about what medical treatment you would want or not want in the event of you being seriously unwell and unable to express your wishes at that time.

    This document is legally binding for doctors to follow, as long as they are aware of the Advance Statement.

  • H. M. Coroner

    If a person's death is reported to a Coroner, it can be for a number of reasons and there are different courses of action that the Coroner's office may take.

    They will liaise with healthcare professionals that would have cared for the person that has died and make a decision on whether an autopsy or post-mortem examination may be necessary.

    The coroner will decide either:

    • the cause of death is clear
    • that a post-mortem is needed
    • to hold an inquest

    The cause of death is clear

    If the coroner decides that the cause of death is clear:

    1. The doctor signs a medical certificate.
    2. You take the medical certificate to the registrar to register the death.
    3. The coroner issues a certificate to the registrar stating a post-mortem is not needed.

    A post-mortem is needed

    The coroner may decide a post-mortem is needed to find out how the person died. This can be done either in a hospital or mortuary.You cannot object to a coroner’s post-mortem - but if you’ve asked the coroner must tell you (and the person’s GP) when and where the examination will take place.

    After the post-mortem

    The coroner will release the body for a funeral once they have completed the post-mortem examinations and no further examinations are needed.

    If the body is released with no inquest, the coroner will send a form (‘Pink Form - form 100B’) to the registrar stating the cause of death.

    The coroner will also send a ‘Certificate of Coroner - form Cremation 6’ if the body is to be cremated.

    The coroner holds an inquest

    A coroner must hold an inquest if:

    • the cause of death is still unknown
    • the person might have died a violent or unnatural death
    • the person might have died in prison or police custody

    You will need to get an interim death certificate during the inquest, so you can notify the registrar of the death. Once the inquest is over, you can get the final death certificate from the registrar.

    Get an interim death certificate during the inquest

    If you need proof of the death while you wait for the inquest to finish, ask the coroner for an interim death certificate.

    Use the interim death certificate to notify a registrar of the death while the inquest is still taking place.

    You can use the interim death certificate to apply for probate

    To report a death to more than one government organisation at once:

    1. Ask the coroner for the interim death certificate.
    2. Find a Registrar - please see our Registering a Death page. Thank you.
    3. The registrar will either help you report the death or give you a unique reference number. Use this number to report the death using the 'Tell us Once' service.

    Get a death certificate

    After the inquest, the corner will confirm the cause of death to the registrar.

    The registrar will register the death.

    You can ask the registrar for a death certificate

    Get help

    You can get free, independent support from The Coroners' Courts Support Service

    The Coroners’ Courts Support Service Helpline (England and Wales)
    Telephone: 0300 111 2141

    Monday to Friday, 9am to 7pm

    Saturday, 9am to 2pm

    Coroners Court Support Service

  • Help with the cost of a funeral

    Get help with funeral costs (Funeral Expenses Payment)

    How it works

    You could get a Funeral Expenses Payment (also called a Funeral Payment) if you get certain benefits and need help to pay for a funeral you’re arranging.

    If you receive money from the deceased’s estate

    Your Funeral Expenses Payment will be deducted from any money you get from the deceased’s estate.

    The estate includes any money or property they had but not a house or personal things left to a widow, widower or surviving civil partner.

    What you’ll get

    Funeral Expenses Payment can help pay for some of the costs of the following:

    • burial fees for a particular plot
    • cremation fees, including the cost of the doctor’s certificate
    • travel to arrange or go to the funeral
    • the cost of moving the body within the UK, if it’s being moved more than 50 miles
    • death certificates or other documents

    You can also get money for any other funeral expenses, such as funeral director’s fees, flowers or the coffin. You can get up to:

    • £700 if the person died before 8 April 2020
    • £1,000 if the person died on or after 8 April 2020

    The payment will not usually cover all of the costs of the funeral.

    How much you get depends on your circumstances. This includes any other money that’s available to cover the costs, for example from an insurance policy or the deceased person’s estate.

    If the deceased had a pre-paid funeral plan, you can only get up to £120 to help pay for items not covered by their plan.

    How the money is paid

    Funeral Expenses Payment is paid into your bank, building society or credit union account if you’ve already paid for the funeral.

    The money will be paid directly to the organiser of the funeral (for example, the funeral director) if you have not paid yet.
    Visit Website >

  • Bereavement Support Payment


    You may be able to get Bereavement Support Payment (BSP) if your husband, wife or civil partner died in the last 21 months.

    You must claim within 3 months of your partner’s death to get the full amount. You can claim up to 21 months after their death but you’ll get fewer monthly payments.

    Bereavement Support Payment has replaced Bereavement Allowance (previously Widow’s Pension), Bereavement Payment, and Widowed Parent’s Allowance.

    You could be eligible if your partner either:

    • paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks in one tax year
    • died because of an accident at work or a disease caused by work

    When they died you must have been:

    • under State Pension age
    • living in the UK or a country that pays bereavement benefits

    You cannot claim BSP if you’re in prison.

    If your partner died more than 21 months ago

    You may still be able to claim BSP if your husband, wife or civil partner’s cause of death was confirmed more than 21 months after the death.

    Visit Website >

  • Bereavement Verses for Funeral Cards and Notes

    Words of Comfort

    Your words can bring comfort to those experiencing the loss of a loved one. Regardless, if you write a condolence letter, paragraph or keep your condolences short in a card, it truly is the thought that counts.

    It’s not how much you say, but what you say. For those also mourning, a simple "I’m thinking of you" can be enough.

    Keeping your written sentiments short is acceptable. Perhaps you have already expressed most of what you wanted to say or maybe the message is from a group of friends or colleagues and you have the task of writing the card.

    Sending cards and thoughts to those most immediately affected by the death, either prior to, or following a funeral is a common practice.

    Finding the right words to say to those most immediately affected by the death may be a daunting task. Here are a few examples of how you might be thinking, of both the deceased and their loved ones, which could be simply put.

    • "He/She will remain in our hearts forever."
    • "He/She will be in our hearts and memories."
    • "I am so sorry for your loss."
    • "I am going to miss him/her, too."
    • "I hope you feel surrounded by much love."
    • "Sharing in your sadness as you remember him/her."
    • "With deepest sympathy as you remember him/her."
    • "Thank you for your thoughtfulness."
    • "Your generosity and support during this difficult time are greatly appreciated."
    • "We are forever grateful for your kind words and sweet gestures during our time of need."
    • "Your presence at (he or she's) funeral and reception gave us a great measure of comfort and peace.
    • "Thank you for your generosity. May God bless you."
  • Tell Us Once

    Tell us Once is a Government provided service that lets you report a death to most government organisations in one go. You will be told about it by the Registrar when you register a death, but you can visit their site for more information. Visit Website >

  • The Bereavement Register

    The Bereavement Register can help to reduce the amount of unwanted marketing post addressed to the person that has died. You will need to register on-line, but it is quick and easy. Visit their website to find out a bit more. Visit Website >

  • The Cinnamon Trust

    The Cinnamon Trust – Peace of mind for owners, love, care and safety for beloved pets.

    The only specialist national charity for people in their last years and their much loved, much needed companion animals.

    A network of 17,000 volunteers “hold hands” with owners to provide vital loving care for their pets. Keeping them together – for example, they’ll walk a dog every day for a housebound owner, they’ll foster pets when owners need hospital care, they’ll fetch the cat food, or even clean out the bird cage, etc.

    When staying at home is no longer an option, their Pet Friendly Care Home Register lists care homes and retirement housing happy to accept residents with pets, and providing previous arrangements have been made with them, they will take on life time care of a bereaved pet.

    Visit Website >

  • If someone dies whilst abroad

    If someone dies either whilst they are away from home and it is your intention to bring them back, or you it is your wish that their last resting place is somewhere other than where they lived, in the U.K. or abroad, their death will need to be registered where it happened. If that happens abroad, you should also register it with the British Consul in that country so that you can get a Consular Death Certificate and their death can be recorded in the UK.

    We can help you with all of the details of bringing them back and holding their funeral here, but as there are so many different Countries and Consuls, we would need proper details to be specific about timescales, costs etc.

    To find a specific Consul click here Visit Website >

  • What is Probate?

    In England and Wales, applying for the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (their ‘estate’) when they die is called ‘applying for probate’.

    If the person left a will, you’ll get a ‘grant of probate’.

    If the person did not leave a will, you’ll get ‘letters of administration’.

    Visit Website >

What our
customers say...

Richard and his team are consummate professionals who supported us at the most challenging of times.

Gary G.

After losing our mum very unexpectedly, we walked into your office like 3 scared little children, not knowing what to do or what to say. It felt like you and your team wrapped your arms around us while helping us through the most traumatic time. Your guidance through the whole process was done with such kindness, care and consideration, we are, and will forever be truly grateful.


Richard and his team were respectful, considerate and calm. I always felt Richard was there to quietly and efficiently help me through the arrangements for my dad's funeral.


Richard was recommended by a friend. I immediately felt comfortable and relaxed. He was a good listener, easy to talk to and his manner was reassuring and helpful. I can't thank him enough for seeing us smoothly through this traumatic time.

Anne P.

I lost my husband in his early 50's and Richard took over with great empathy, kindness and discretion. The professionalism of both him and his team was exemplary, even down to organising the traffic so that my husband's biker friends could follow us to the funeral. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

S. Boorer

Nothing was too much trouble. Everything from start to finish was absolutely perfect, the attention to details also superb including the timing of the drivers closing on both car doors, in my eyes, with that attention to detail I knew my Dad was in safe hands

Lee A.

I cannot recommend Richard enough for his compassion, professionalism and kind and thoughtful approach when dealing with myself and my family at such a difficult time. Nothing was too much bother for Richard.

J Kelly

We can't rate Westcountry Funeral Service high enough for their level of compassion .... nothing was ever too much trouble. Excellent communication throughout the whole process and everything was done to a high professional standard. I would highly recommend Westcountry Funeral Service.

Tristan S.

From start to finish the professional service that we received was excellent. We would recommend this company to anyone who sadly is in need of this service.

Peter C.

Throughout the undertakers were superb, calm, stewarding agents of remarkable humanity... It was an incredible experience - a good disturbance of the heart.

Paul C

Richard took over and gave our father's funeral dignity. An excellent all round service that I have no hesitation in recommending.

David H.

Leah talked me through all the options and procedures, including giving an itemized quote, whereas other funeral directors just gave me a total cost.


...unbelievable from start to finish. It is rare to find such a truly personal service

Ben S.

From the moment we contacted Richard we knew our loved one, and the family, were in the safest hands. Outstanding care, service and value for money

Chris D.

We chose Westcountry Funerals at Elburton based on a feeling. We viewed the online photos of the beautiful Old Smithy building, and knew that our loved one would have approved of such an historical place :) We were absolutely right to go with our instinct, as we then met, and were dealt with, by the wonderful funeral director, Leah


Leah, Richard and the team really did my grandfather proud, so nice to see a walker in front of the car on the approach to his house and when leaving, I would highly recommend the team for the traditional and professional service.

Mike O