If you’re wondering whether or not someone you know has died (recently or a long time ago) and you want a simple and free way of finding out, as well as information regarding how the deceased person died, where they are buried or cremated and how to find out if they left any inheritance, there are certain ways of finding out all of this online.Make Your Will
In our guide, we explain how to check if someone has died online, how to find out a deceased person’s burial/cremation records and whether or not they left a legally-valid will.
Yes, you can. It is generally an easy process, but if you don’t have details about the deceased person, such as their name and date of death (estimate should be okay), it will be more difficult to find out more information such as the cause of death and burial place.
Death records in the UK are public and you can generally find out the details of a deceased person’s death and burial online, such as with GOV.UK, publicrecordsearch.co.uk or deceasedonline.com.
Some websites will let you do a basic search for free, but if more information is required, you may need to register and pay a fee to find out more, such as details regarding the cremation or cemetery, etc.
The GRO will allow you to access death records for free. To get information on a deceased person, you will need to email or call them, and you can find their contact details on their website.
This service will tell you the name of the registered deceased person, the year their death was registered and how old they were when they passed away, but information regarding their parent or spouse is not disclosed.
Alternatively, you might want to contact your local Register Office (or the RO nearest to the deceased’s place of death) to find out about a deceased person.
By visiting www.deceasedonline.com, you can carry out a standard search online for a deceased person, provided you have their first and last name, as well as their birth date and death date. This basic search is free of charge and you can search by country, region in the UK, county, burial authority or crematorium register, but you have to register with them to do an advanced search.
You can register with Deceased Online in order to find out more, such as:
To find out these details, you will need to register and purchase a pay-per-view voucher (this lasts for 6 months and you can search as many times as you like for free after you’ve purchased the voucher) or sign up for a subscription.
You can also visit PRS and enter the first and last name of the deceased person, as well as the UK region. Once you enter this information, you will need to register with them online, but it is free to do this.
If you can, you should enter their approximate birth year and year of death in order to narrow down the results.
When you find the right person, you can click on the icons on the right to see transcripts or images, but you’ll need to pay a subscription to see these and learn more about your family history.
If you have no luck finding the deceased person online by using an official website or database such as those listed above, it is recommended that you try typing their full name into Google as something is likely to show up in the search results - perhaps on a social media site or online obituary.
If you need to find out a deceased person’s cause of death, you will need a copy of the death certificate as this is an official public record and will state how the person passed away.
This is not free, however, and you’ll find that most other ways of finding out this information will come with a fee, such as publicsearchrecord.co.uk which asks you to pay for a membership if you want to know more details regarding the cause of death, etc.
Find out more below about death certificates and how to obtain one.
As per UK law, a death certificate is known as a public record, meaning that anyone is able to apply online to receive a copy, as long as they know details of the deceased person.
In general, people require a copy of a death certificate to manage probate and distribute a deceased person’s estate, or it may be needed for pension/insurance claims or when doing research into their family’s history.
If you need to get hold of a copy of a deceased person’s death certificate online, you can do so by visiting the GOV.UK website.
The application process takes about 10 minutes and the death certificate costs £11. It is sent 4 days after applying, but if you need it urgently, you can pay £35 for it to be sent the next working day (provided you apply before 4pm).
If you’re not sure where someone’s burial place is or where a deceased person was cremated, you can find out online, but whatever UK online service you come across, it’s unlikely to be free. Generally, the more details you want to know, you will usually have to pay a fee.
For example, you can visit Deceased Online to get information from burial, cremation registers and grave maps regarding where the person you are looking for was buried or cremated, but you will need to be registered or have a purchase voucher/subscription to be able to do this, which is not free.
Similarly, you can visit another website such as Findagrave UK, which offers a free service, but you need to know the cemetery location to be able to locate the deceased person. If the right person shows up on their search list, there should be a picture of the headstone to help you find it in the cemetery. This site is for graves only, however, and you won’t find information on cremations here.
If you want to find out if someone left inheritance after death, such as money, owned property, life insurance, shares, bank accounts, etc., you will need to locate their will, if they had written one.
Firstly, you will need to check the property in which they lived before they passed away as most people tend to keep it in a secure place in their home. The executor of the will is in charge of dealing with probate and distributing the estate, but they should discuss searching the home with the family and loved ones first, to avoid any upset and trespass allegations.
If the will cannot be found, you should find their solicitor if possible, or the company who they wrote their will with. Only the executor has the right to get the will from the person or company that is storing it.
If that fails, it is worth asking their bank as some banks store wills or keep copies of them. You will be asked to provide the death certificate and proof of your own ID before being handed the will.
As a last resort, you might want to contact a will-finding company who will search the National Wills Register, but bear in mind that this won’t be a free service. It is also important to know that people who write wills do not have to register their will, so even if the deceased person wrote one, it might not necessarily be on the register, so this option won’t necessarily guarantee that you’ll find it.
For anyone wanting to make a will, this is why it is important to discuss it with your loved ones, which, of course, is not an easy thing to do, but it will make things much easier when the time comes.
If the deceased person did not leave a will or it cannot be found after trying all possible options, their estate will have to be shared out as per the UK’s Intestacy Rules. In this case, the estate would be managed and distributed by the deceased’s next of kin.
If you are unsure, our probate specialists will be able to help you and provide expert advice.
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Article reviewed 17th January 2022