What to do when your mate is dead

16 Jun 2006
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United Kingdom
I have a pub mate that had a dodgy heart.

I visited him at Hammersmith when he had a quadruple heart bypass.

I then visited him when he was in Ealing hospital a year later.

He would give me a shopping list.

The last one was cuppa soups and pens and paper. He couldn't eat solids. I would drop them off to which ever hospital he was in.

I would periodically send him a text saying"are you alive"?

I turned up at his tenement block after discovering that neither his mobile, or land line are still active.

I buzzed a series of flats in the same block. A lovely woman said that she believed that he was in palliative care. She buzzed me in to the communal hallway

He seems to have deliveries, sitting outside the flat dating back to december.

I took photos but didn't touch anything.

Years ago he asked me if I was willing to be an executor. All I know is that he wants his estate to go to his estranged son.

I am concerned about the boxes sitting outside his flat. Some are clearly perishable.

If I take photos of each of the products, and give the bird upstairs, for example, £20-50 for witnessing my removal of the products, I guess that I can do that as an executor? I would need to pay for a cab though afterwards (I don't drive- it took me 20 mins to walk to his flat after I got off the bus).

I am gutted, I think that he might be dead. He has a mum in her 90s, a sister in her 60's and two brothers, one of whom he said something very, very evil to him when he was a small child.

I don't have his mum's contact details.

Advice would be helpful. His son lives in the USA with the mother. He wants his son to be the sole recipient (he told me that on more than one occasion). I just want to make sure that he gets what he wanted.
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Have you formally (not verbally) been appointed as an executor of his will?
You would need to have yourself named, as the executor, in a formally written, signed, and witnessed Will - other than that, the court could appoint you. It's not a job to be taken on lightly, and includes a certain amount of liability.

Your first step, would be to ensure he has actually died. Maybe the police could help with that.
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Mottie and Harry are obviously right. You're not an executor unless it says so in a proper Will.

Does he just have the one child?

Is he still married or in a civil partnership?

It depends if he has made a Will. If so, whatever wishes are in the Will would usually have to be followed.

If there is no Will, it is different. The laws of intestacy would apply. If the son is the only child, and there is no spouse or civil partner, then the son will inherit everything. If the son was in the UK, he would apply to be the executor (actually called an "administrator" when there is no Will). I don't know what happens with him being abroad.
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You're overthinking about the boxes.
Just take them and throw away any perishable.
Keep the rest safe for the son or him if he's still alive.
If you don't know where he is, maybe you're not best mates.
Maybe, just maybe, someone else is tending to him or sorting his affairs.
Time to find him, dead or alive.
Have you opened his letterbox and had a sniff? Any flies buzzing about?
What about checking with the landlord to see if the rent is being paid
The police could find out whether he is still in the flat or not.
Social services could as well.
Rent and other bills sometimes continue to be paid by direct debit or standing order until the bank (or supplier) records the death of the client.

You can search for death certificates online. Unless the surname is very common, try without the forenames as sometimes the familiar name is not the official name. The certificate will tell you date of birth, date and place of death, address, and name of informant, which helps you verify it is the right one. You have to pay for a copy with the details but can search online free.

Only use the .gov.uk websites, the others are crooks.

I'll see if I can find a better link.

It depends which part of the UK the death occurred in.

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This is the one I last used

Search the GRO Online Indexes​

Which index would you like to search?
Events registered in England or Wales:

It looks like you have to register and log in to use the Search.

You start with the Police and report your concern.
If there is no Will, his Son (I assume is his sole heir?) Inherits anyway.

If a Will exists and you are named as executor, you have powers. Otherwise, you risk exposing yourself to damages or criminal charges.
Get the police to do a welfare check, they work with Social Services. They will also contact Drs in the area/hospitals.
If he died in hospital, there will be a record and someone will have claimed the body or social services will have.
Ditto dropping dead in the street

Only other option is him dying in the flat and again, police/SS would get involved.
unless he has gone for a long walk in the country to die, it is very hard to die unnoticed in the UK, even if it takes time.
Obviously there are cases where a DD will cover rent/utilities and a body lies undiscovered but the reason that it hits the news is because it is rare - not that it is common.
It is easily possible he is lying in the flat so call the police, they have been embarrassed by recent cases so should act. Also ask neighbours, the hospital or his GP surgery, worth the risk of somebody saying it breaches personal data rules. Councils do paupers funerals where there is no money or obvious next of kin, so they may have information.

You cannot be executor unless there is a will and you are named. If there was no wife/civil partner, the son will be sole beneficiary, and also be responsible for distributing the estate as “administrator” if there is no will.

So step by step.

If the beneficiary and executor is overseas, you can offer to help them. If they accept your offer you can do the clearing up, forward papers or possessions, hopefully avoid the landlord having everything sent to landfill.

I have done this.
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