Siobhon Peers, 31, of Davenport near Stockport, has revealed that she was reduced to taking an urn of her father's ashes along to her local branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland, in an effort to prove that her father was dead. She had been hounded by a debt recovery firm over what started as a £6 charge on the account after his death, and ended up as a debt of £625 with penalties and interest.
So how could this happen? And what should you do if someone dies?
Peers told the Daily Telegraph that she had sent a copy of the death certificate to the bank to prove her father was dead, but it insisted on seeing the original. She continued to receive letters from the bank, and the debt grew to £625 with charges.
Eventually she resorted to taking the original death certificate into the branch, along with her father's ashes. The bank confirmed it had contacted her and closed the account.
How could this happen?After someone dies, banks and other financial institutions will carry on as normal until they are notified of a death. Until the point at which they are notified of a death, interest will continue to mount on debt, and charges will accrue.
In the first few days you will need to get a medical certificate from a doctor, then you need to take this along to a registrar in order to register the death (you can't have a funeral until you have done this).
The registrar should tell you if your council runs a Tell Us Once service, which will tell all the relevant government departments - ranging from the local council to the benefits office, the DVLA and the passport office. If it doesn't, you'll need to get in touch with them all individually.
You will also need to contact any financial institution, from the bank to the mortgage provider, insurance company and pension provider and let them know. They may all ask for an original death certificate, so it's worth getting certificated copies of the original when you register the death with the registrar.
At the same time you will need to sort out probate - either yourself or through a solicitor. This will mean checking if there is a will, paying any inheritance tax due, collecting assets, paying debts and then distributing the estate.
Unfortunately there are hundreds of things to do after someone dies, to get all the paperwork in order. Hopefully, taking your father's ashes along to your local bank should not be one of them.