What to do when a child dies

Experiencing the loss of a child or baby is extremely traumatic and will likely bring a whirlwind of emotions, sadness and grief.

If this is something you are going through right now we are very sorry for your loss and hope this information is useful in helping you navigate through this difficult time.

It may be hard to think about, but there are some practical arrangements that need to be made, some legal procedures to follow and agencies to notify of your child’s death. If you have someone close to you – a friend or family member – ask them to help you to fill in forms and contact the organisations you need to.

Registering a death

Each time someone dies, their death needs to be registered by the Registrar of Birth and Deaths. Please see our guidance for registering a death.

If a baby is stillborn or dies shortly after birth, it is necessary that both their birth and death are registered and this can be undertaken by either parent. You can get government advice on this here.

Some parents find it comforting to formally mark their baby’s existence and cherish dearly the certificates they are given.

Child Benefit

If you are claiming Child Benefit and your child dies you need to inform the Child Benefit office as soon as possible. You can do that online here.

Usually, Child Benefit payments will continue for up to eight weeks after a child’s death. This is the same if your child was a newborn, however you will need to apply for this within three months of their death.

Unfortunately, you cannot claim if your child was stillborn.

Tax credits

Your payments may change if you’re receiving tax credits and you experience the loss of a child.

You need to notify the Tax Credit Office within one month of a death, this is so you don’t have to go through the stress of paying back any overpayments and ensure you receive all the money you are entitled to.

Following the death of a child, you can continue to get tax credits for 8 weeks. Bereaved parents of newborn babies can register to claim tax credits but this is not applicable to parents of a stillborn child.

You can manage your tax credits online here.

What happens to a Child Trust Fund

Child Trust Funds (CTF) were introduced in 2002 to encourage saving for children but have since been replaced by Junior ISAs.

If your child had a trust fund, this will be inherited by their next-of-kin upon their passing – usually parents unless they were over 16 and married.

The inheritance will comprise all money in the fund, including any payments from the Government – which were awarded to babies born between 1st September 2002 and 2nd January 2011 as part of the scheme at the time.

Junior ISAs are set up in a child’s name, but the parent who opens the account on their behalf is known as the ‘registered contact’ and has the control to remove money if their child is terminally ill.

If your child dies and had a Junior ISA this will be paid to whoever inherits their estate. You will need to inform the account provider so that they can close the ISA.

To access funds from and close any other savings accounts you will need to provide details and a copy of your child’s death certificate to the bank or building society.

Sure Start Maternity Grant

This grant is a one-off payment of £500 which is available to parents:

  • Of a first- born baby
  • Who are expecting a multiple birth (e.g. twins) and already have children
  • Who are already claiming certain benefits

Bereaved parents of newborns who fall into the above criteria can still claim and receive the grant if they apply within three months of the baby’s birth date. You can apply for the grant here.

Maternity & Paternity leave and pay

You will be entitled to maternity/paternity pay and leave if your baby dies after being born or is stillborn (after the start of the 24th week of pregnancy).

Additional leave (paid or unpaid) will be at the discretion of your employers and they may consider compassionate leave if you have lost a baby due to miscarriage.

Support for your loss

It is understandable that you may need help to cope with the trauma of your loss and there are many organisations and charities that can support you through the grieving process.

Below are some organisations that may be able to help:

Alternatively, speak to one of our Family Liaison team about our free one-to-one counselling service. Pop in to any of our branches or email them via the branch pages.

We can help you with all your funeral planning arrangements