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DNS User Story Reveals The Impact The Service Has On The Bereaved

Monday, 18 October 2021

A customer using our Death Notification Service (DNS) has been so impressed with our service following the passing of her Mum last March she has written in to let us know her thoughts.

My Mum died in March this year following a cancer diagnosis in the preceding October. She was an incredible person in so many ways, one of which was being highly organised and very practical.

She kept records, files and details for all her accounts and investments. These were all stored in logical order and she told us where to find all her important documents, passport, tax details etc. Let us not underestimate how incredibly helpful that was and how much time and stress it saved us.

“I first read about DNS in a bereavement brochure from Nationwide Building Society”

As we knew the prognosis and she was so keen to have everything in order, I had already started to research end of life planning for her. It was then that I first learnt about the DNS, which I read about in a bereavement brochure from Nationwide Building Society. Whilst I remembered it later, I didn't really think about it too much at the time, assuming that all financial institutions would do the same.

After Mum died, our priority was to register the death and, due to Covid restrictions, we arranged a telephone appointment with Guildford Register Office.

The Registrar was extremely helpful, courteous and efficient. She asked if we had heard of the Government's Tell Us Once service, which I had but she gave us a little more detail about everything it would cover. I remember her saying Tell Us Once would even take care of Mum's bus pass and library card – silly little things but none the less, two more 'phone calls we wouldn't have to make and the relief that someone, somewhere had the sense and empathy to think of such small details.

The Registrar then mentioned the Death Notification Service and said there would be a link to the DNS website in her email.

When I logged on to DNS to register, I had expected a long, arduous form to be completed but instead found a very simple form and clear instructions and information.

I received an email acknowledgement from DNS and within days, started to receive letters from the companies themselves. These were simple acknowledgements with information about what they would do next.

The fact that we didn't need to make 'phone calls to that small handful of companies was very welcome. Aside from making the actual call, and gearing yourself up for it each time, you save the time spent on the call itself but also the time spent trawling through each company's website trying to find the right department to contact. Some have their own online notification forms, others are 'phone only.

It sounds strange but with every 'phone call you have to make, you receive the telephonist's well-intentioned condolences, as you would expect.

They have to say it – it would be wrong not to – but how sincere can they be after saying it numerous times day after day? Something else which is perhaps not factored in is retention.

Everything these people were saying made sense and was clear but when your brain is overloaded with all this new information, the myriad things you have to do at such times, not to mention lack of sleep, stress and grief, you simply cannot retain everything they say. Did company 'X' say I had to put it in writing, or would they write to me first? Do I have to send a death certificate to company 'Y' or wait for their forms? With DNS, you do it once, they respond, you have something in writing. It is just literally one less thing to remember. You still, of course, must deal with the information they subsequently send you, but that is to be expected. It allows you to take those next steps at your own pace, at a time that suits you.

“I'm so grateful that DNS exists, and I'm pleased to see that more companies are starting to participate”

I'm so grateful that DNS exists, and I'm pleased to see that more companies are starting to participate. I feel more positively disposed towards those companies who have signed up. I recently checked all the financial institutions I personally have dealings with and was appalled to find that only 4 out of 12 have joined. If I was planning on closing any of my accounts, I would probably drop those non-members first.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend friends and family to use the DNS. I have yet to find any reason why one wouldn't want to. I appreciate that not everyone is online or comfortable filling in forms on the internet (although the benefits far outweigh those potential issues), but I believe that one can also register for DNS by calling their helpline number.

Going forward, I would love to see every financial organisation signed up and, ideally, all the other major corporations, utilities, telecoms etc. too. Death is a fact of life, so it has to be a fundamental part of every company's service offering.

“DNS is a hugely helpful resource which I cannot praise highly enough”

My final thoughts

The DNS is hugely helpful resource which I cannot praise highly enough. I would like to see it become compulsory, but I hope that the companies themselves do genuinely want to do the right thing and help the families of their late clients and will see the advantages and benefits of becoming part of the scheme.

They are, at the end of the day, in business to make a profit. For every telephone call they no longer have to take, each perhaps saving 20 minutes, that time that could be spent on the actual administration of dealing with those accounts, freeing-up all those man-hours, speeding up the process for the bereaved families and easing the stress on the families and on their own staff.