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Guidance for the next of kin following the loss of a loved one

To guide you through this process:

  • Accepting that managing the affairs of the deceased may feel overwhelming is an important first step.
  • Remember, many tasks, including the estate inventory, can be delegated to professionals.
  • Start by obtaining the necessary certificates of authority for the deceased and any co-owners of the estate. Delays are common due to long waiting times with authorities, so it is advisable to begin this process early.

Concepts and certificates

The paperwork following someone’s death includes specific terminology.

Below is a list of the most common terms and their meanings:

  • Burial permit: A document authorizing the burial of the deceased.
  • Death certificate: A medical document detailing the cause of death.
  • Estate: The collective assets, rights, and liabilities left behind by the deceased.
  • Co-owners of the estate: Includes the deceased’s heirs, their surviving spouse, and beneficiaries named in the will.
  • Estate trustee: A person authorized by the co-owners to manage the estate’s affairs, which can be one of the co-owners or an external party, such as a lawyer.
  • Official certificate: A document from a church or government registry confirming personal details of an individual.

Burial permit

A burial permit, issued by a medical doctor, is always required when arranging a funeral. The permit is granted either by the doctor who cared for the patient or by the medical examiner or pathologist who performed the autopsy. If the deceased resided in a care home, the permit is issued by the facility’s doctor.

Funeral arrangements can begin as soon as you feel ready; you do not need to wait for the burial permit to start planning. Typically, the hospital or care home will provide a copy of the permit directly to the funeral home.

This document is only needed for the funeral itself. The burial permit will be submitted to the crematorium or to the organization managing the cemetery where the deceased will be interred. The deceased cannot be buried until the burial permit has been issued.

Death certificate

A death certificate, including the cause of death, will always be issued for the deceased. A medical doctor issues the death certificate once all necessary information is available, such as when the illness, accident, or other cause of death has been determined, and the death has been reported to the Digital and Population Data Services Agency.

In addition to the cause of death, the certificate includes the deceased’s identity number, place of death, and time of death. The death certificate is usually only required for handling insurance matters. For instance, banks do not need to know the cause of death. Given that the death certificate may contain sensitive information about the deceased’s health, it is important for the next of kin to handle this document with care.

If an autopsy is required to determine the cause of death, issuing the death certificate might take months. Fortunately, the death certificate is generally not necessary for contacting authorities or other parties; the official certificate of the deceased is usually sufficient. The deceased can be interred without the death certificate.

Official certificate

It’s recommended to order the official certificate as soon as possible. Delays, commonly caused by long wait times with authorities, are frequent, so initiating this process early is advisable. In Vaasa, the regional central register of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland can be reached at 041 730 2591. 040 759 1204.

The official certificate is crucial for managing the estate’s economic affairs. The widow, widower, heir, or any estate delegate can use it to settle the estate’s bills at the bank or through bank services. To conduct transactions at the bank, the individual must provide the official certificate as proof of their co-ownership in the estate.

Handling of economic affairs

The deceased’s bank account automatically becomes part of the estate, and all prior user rights are terminated. To conduct transactions at the bank, both proof of identity and an official certificate, confirming your co-ownership of the estate, are required.

Please note that the estate’s bank account should first cover the funeral expenses and estate inventory costs. Following these payments, if funds remain, other bills will be settled. Creditors are advised to await the completion of the estate inventory, which determines the availability of funds. Should creditors inquire, they may be informed of the death to understand the delay.


  • Inform the employer or the unemployment fund that payments should cease due to the death. Check if the employer provides employees’ group life assurance. Based on this, compensation will be paid out to the widow, widower, and the deceased’s children for up to 22 years. In some fields, group life insurance is mandatory according to the collective agreement.
  • If you have been in touch with Kela, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland, inform them of the death as soon as possible. While Kela receives some information through other channels, this process can be slow. Be aware that pensions and other social benefits paid out after the month of death will need to be returned. Kela continues pension payments only until the end of the month in which the death occurred.

After all the preceding formalities have been addressed, you may proceed with the tasks outlined below:

  • Terminate credit cards to ensure that associated services are also ended.
  • Review insurance policies. Life insurance and group life assurances will be terminated, but other insurances, like home insurance, may not end automatically. These must be either terminated or transferred to a new policyholder to avoid charges to the estate.
  • Personal insurances can be terminated, possibly even retroactively. Ensure to claim any due compensations from insurance companies.
  • If the deceased had a will, inform all heirs and the executor of the estate accordingly.
  • Submit the survivor’s pension application at a Kela service point. Kela grants survivor’s pensions to widows or widowers under 65 years of age, and orphan’s pensions to children under 18. Children who are students at 18 may apply for an extension until the age of 21. Domestic partners are not eligible for a survivor’s pension, even if they have children together. The survivor’s pension may also be available through the deceased’s insurance institution, such as accident insurance or traffic insurance.
  • If you become the sole custodian of underage children, you can apply for child support and a single-wage allowance from Kela.
  • If you have a joint mortgage with the deceased, contact the bank as soon as possible to discuss the handling and possible restructuring of the loan.


  • Inform the housing association of the death.
  • Contact the bank as soon as possible and restructure the mortgage, if needed.
  • Terminate the tenancy agreement if vacating the apartment; otherwise, the lease continues.
  • Find out whether contracts with the care home or meal or cleaning services need to be terminated.
  • Collect any of the deceased’s possessions left in the hospital or care home.
  • Possible care items or aids, such as walkers and shower chairs, need to be returned.
  • Doctor appointments and other possible meetings need to be canceled.
  • Cancel the passport and other identity documents by cutting one of their corners.
  • Find out whether insurances for the apartment or other properties need to be terminated or transferred to someone else. The same goes for electricity, water, and waste management.
  • Check if there’s a paid parking spot, garage, storage unit, or other commitments like hobbies or jobs that need to be terminated.
  • Subscriptions for streaming services, newspapers, magazines, and satellite or cable-TV need to be terminated or transferred to someone else. The same applies for monthly internet and phone service subscriptions.

The death of a loved one is always a crisis that consumes significant energy. Managing practical matters during such a crisis can feel overwhelming. It’s important not to be too hard on yourself. If something is overlooked, like a bill for the deceased’s summer house, it can be addressed later. Once all of the deceased’s benefits have been terminated and funeral expenses settled, there are no urgent tasks remaining. Take a deep breath. However, planning in advance for the estate inquiry is crucial.

A list of important contacts:

Birth certificates, reports on family relationships

Olympiakatu 16 B 34
Regional central register’s office in Vaasa

Phone: 041 730 2591
E-mail: luovutus.akrlapua@evl.fi
Website: www.tilaavirkatodistus.fi

Digital and Population Data Services Agency

Wolffintie 35 B 2nd floor

Clerical office (Vaasa Swedish speaking parish)

Raastuvankatu 13, 3rd floor

Phone: 06 326 1209
E-mail: pastorsexpedition.vasa@evl.fi
Website: www.vasaevl.fi

Cemetery office

Vöyrinkatu 1, chapel building

Phone: 06 326 1471
E-mail: vaasan.hautaustoimi@evl.fi
Website: www.vasaevl.fi/begravningsplatser

Huhta & Finne
Funeral Home

Hovioikeudenpuistikko 5

Phone: 06 318 8700
E-mail: info@huhtafinne.fi
Website: www.huhtafinne.fi

Blombutik Blom-Finne

Hovioikeudenpuistikko 5

Phone: 06 318 8722
E-mail: info@blomfinne.fi

Estate inquiries Law firm Markelin & Somppi

Hovioikeudenpuistikko 13 B

Phone: 0500 866 303, Kim Somppi
E-mail: info@markelinsomppi.fi
Website: www.markelinsomppi.fi

Mounting of memory plates
Vesa Korpi

Phone: 040 146 0406
E-mail: vekorpi@gmail.com

Purchases of estates, clearances, final cleaning
Prenikka Ky

Kauppapuistikko 29, 65100 Vaasa

Phone: 040 529 3393
E-mail: christian.petander@prenikka.fi