The Anonymous Widower

Patchy Paperwork

I was interviewed today, by a student from Liverpool University about some of the aspects of widowhood.

One thing that got me at the time of C’s death, was how professional some organisations and companies were and on the other hand how sloppy some others were.

I was moved to write to The Times, and this is my letter they published on April 16th, 2008.

The paperwork carried out when a relation dies should be standardised across all organisations.

I was widowed last year, and it is only now that I’m starting to get my life together. The response of the various government and local authority departments in handling all the paperwork involved has been very patchy.

 Registrars: excellent, very sympathetic and efficient; Work and Pensions: bereavement allowance came through with a few hiccups, but not too difficult; Premium Bonds: system worked but could have been better; council tax: this was reduced automatically on signing a form by St Edmundsbury — totally painless; DVLA: its online systems worked well; winter fuel payment: found difficult to claim and missed it for last year.

The private sector wasn’t that much better, with some companies having people whose sole job appeared to be to deal with bereavement faring much better than those that didn’t. Some wanted death certificates, some accepted faxed copies and others took my word.

We need a lot more joined-up thinking in this important area, as, with nearly a million deaths in the UK every year, it would surely help the bereavement process for those left behind if every company, organisation, government department and authority were automatically notified. After all, if St Edmundsbury can do it here in supposedly sleepy Suffolk, then surely everyone else can.

Since moving to London, I could add a few to both lists, although nothing has been specifically about bereavement.  In some ways the biggest surprise has been that the London Borough of Hackney hasn’t made any mistake, that has caused me the slightest bit of inconvenience.

February 22, 2013 - Posted by | World | , , , ,

5 Comments »

  1. When my dad died we were offered a form at the Registrars which they would use to notify all the official people such as council and various government departments. It worked really well. The worst I ever dealth with was Lloyds bank when an aunt died.

    Comment by Liz P | February 23, 2013 | Reply

    • I’ve found Lloyds to be a rather disorganised bank over the last few years. Nothing serious, but I don’t use them anymore.

      After all, who needs a full service bank these days? All we need is a simple current account to collect money from jobs and pensions and pay bills. I only ever go into my bank, as they have a nice comfy chair by the cash point.

      Comment by AnonW | February 23, 2013 | Reply

  2. With the bank issues over the past year or two, we have found ourselves with Santander. They are better than we expected them to be, although would rather be with Co-operative on ethical grounds. But so much has been happening one way or another that we havent bothered to change.

    Comment by Liz P | February 23, 2013 | Reply

    • My good friend David, who rose to the top of one of the clearing banks, said to never bank with a bank domiciled outside your home country. You don’t have the same comeback.

      Comment by AnonW | February 23, 2013 | Reply

  3. We wouldnt have chosen to, but they took over Alliance and Leicester, who we had been with, and were good. And as I said, we dont feel inclined to move because of how difficult that can be.

    Comment by Liz P | February 23, 2013 | Reply


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