Technology is partly responsible for adding to the list of services which must be stopped or amended, so it’s fitting that an online start-up has finally offered at least a partial solution.
The account closure service from Settld avoids the need for relatives or friends to individually contact banks, insurers, broadband providers and so on, when a loved one dies.
Instead, the necessary information can be uploaded to the Settld website, which will then automatically notify each company of a death and of the need to close or transfer accounts.
This is a more useful facility than it might at first seem, because each of us has an average of 20 utility, banking, mobile, TV subscription and other household accounts. And although the Government has a Death Notification Service which informs banks and building societies of a death, and a service called Tell Us Once, which allows families to report a bereavement to multiple public organisations, there has until now been no equivalent for private companies.
The impetus for change was an online petition signed by 17,000 people, which led to the creation of Settld as part of a wider move towards an industry-wide standard for dealing with bereavements. Ultimately, the idea is for a set of standards to be put in place, with a time limit for account closures and specialist staff to deal with the administration more efficiently and compassionately. Some 50 MPs from across the political spectrum have put their names behind the campaign.
But in its absence, Settld does a pretty good job of automating as much of the process as possible. Its website at www.settld.care is disarmingly simple. You fill in a form, and the site contacts each company on your behalf, promising to update you through the process. It’s free but it does require you to provide an email address and phone number at the outset.
A similar but longer-established website called iammoving.com does the same for those moving out of choice rather than necessity. Here, though, the process is riddled with caveats.
The site partners with all manner of conveyancing solicitors, removal firms and insurance companies and all are likely to be party to some of your details. So if you want to keep your new address off the junk mail lists, you may prefer to use the site simply to make a list of the companies you need to notify and do the legwork yourself.
There is often little difference, since not every organisation has an online facility to handle changes of address, and in such cases the best iammoving.com can do is generate a letter for you to print out and pop in the post. Nor is its database completely up to-date; it could find no record of the electricity company I use. But its list of categories should give you enough information to fill in the gaps yourself.
Your bank is one organisation you should notify by yourself, either via their own website or at one of their remaining branches. It’s dangerous – and probably a breach of their terms and conditions – to try to do it on any third-party site.
As for non-electronic correspondence, Royal Mail still operates a redirection service which should prevent any letters from slipping through the net. It costs £34 for three months or £48 for six, plus an extra fee for each additional addressee, and you can buy it within six months either side of your moving date.
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