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Having to tell anybody that their friend or colleague has died is always going to be difficult. However, friends and family will invariably rally round and volunteer their services to tell more distant relatives and acquaintances and particularly business or work colleagues the sad news.

This particular area of bereavement throws up a number of challenges and some of them can be quite unexpected.

Initially of course we talk about informing close friends and acquaintances, typically advising them of the funeral arrangements, should there be flowers, should there be charitable donations and so on. But it may be equally important to the person that has passed on, that certain persons should not be invited to any funeral, wake or memorial service you intend to hold. Once again, having that conversation will save a lot of soul-searching on the part of the bereaved partner who may think they know their partner’s wishes, but clarity and the circumstances can bring a great deal of comfort.

The complexity of contacting work colleagues and more distant acquaintances cannot be underestimated. How many partners have a full understanding and contact details of their partners work colleagues or business associates. For the self-employed these connections can be even more difficult to quantify, especially when you might include persons clients.

For many small business owners, serious consideration should be given to who is best placed to understand how to handle a bereavement and manage it in such a way that the loss of the individual does not spill over and have financial and even legal consequences. Often there will be a partner or associate who will be well placed to take care of these matters, it is important that the remaining partner knows who that is. Access to somebody’s mobile telephone contacts list (if you have it and all the appropriate passcodes) may simply not be enough.

There may be distant family members, often overseas. Can they be contacted, indeed should they be contacted, what would your partner wish for?

The list of other potential contacts varies according to each individual circumstance but could include, health professionals, insurance companies, pension providers, banks and credit cards and other lending organisations, mortgage providers, utility companies and a raft of governmental organisations from HMRC, DVLA through to passport agencies.

This list is not exhaustive, but what we should try to do here is illustrate the unbelievable difficulties that a frozen bank account or range of other assets can cause to a bereaved partner. Much of this information is contained in our digital estate section, but whilst we’re talking about friends and family, social media can be a powerful but sometimes overwhelming channel.

A Facebook post, on your partners page, can communicate your sad news effectively, and tastefully. Indeed it is possible to memorialise Facebook pages if you wish.


  • Friends – past and present
  • Family members – including more distant relatives
  • Colleagues
  • Employer
  • Customers (Self-Employed)
  • Health Professionals