Dealing with death financially and emotionally

By You and Money

Loss of a spouse

Losing a partner is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever experience. During this time, it’s important to look after your wellbeing and ask for support if you need it.

While financial matters may be the last thing you want to think about, taking practical steps can help you through this time.

Funeral arrangements

If you need help to pay for your partner’s funeral here are some things you can do.

  • Check with your partner’s bank to see if money can be released from their account before validation of the Will (or probate) is granted.
  • Check with your solicitor or executor of the estate to find out if your partner had a funeral bond or had made any pre-paid arrangements.
  • If you’re entitled to receive death benefits from your partner’s life insurance policy or superannuation fund, you may find that some funeral costs will be paid. Check with the super fund trustee or your solicitor.
  • If your partner was a Centrelink recipient, a bereavement payment may be available to you – check with your local Centrelink office or visit www.centrelink.gov.au.

Be mindful you won’t be able to do any of the above without some written authorisation of your power.

Wills and estate

If your partner left a Will, it should detail how they wanted their personal assets or estate distributed after their death.

An executor is the person named in your partner’s Will who is responsible for distributing your partner’s assets. Before assets can be given to beneficiaries, all your partner’s debts and outstanding taxes must be paid and probate must be granted by the Supreme Court.

If your partner dies without a Will, the estate will be distributed according to a government formula known as the ‘laws of intestacy’.

Finances

When you experience a significant change in your life, like the loss of a partner, it’s important to know where you stand financially. This may help you manage on a day-to-day basis and plan ahead.

The first thing you need to do is get a clear view of your financial situation, so that you can manage your income, adjust your spending and stay in control of your money. If you need help, use a budget planner to guide you through the types of financial commitments and expenses you should consider.

Advice and support

If you need advice to help you get on top of your finances, you can get free information from some government and community organisations. Contact your local Centrelink office and ask about their Financial Information Service or visit www.centrelink.gov.au.

Alternatively talk to your bank or if you have a financial planner, you may wish to seek their advice.

Government entitlements

To find out if you are eligible for any government entitlements, or to make adjustments to the entitlements you already receive, contact your local Centrelink office.

Helping you cope

If you’re having trouble coping, there are professional organisations that can offer you emotional support and counselling services.

These include:

www.grief.org.au
www.lifeline.org.au
www.beyondblue.org.au
www.relationshipsaustralia.com.au

Share your experiences

If you’ve recently experienced the loss of a partner, let us know how you managed financially. Your story might help others to cope – we’d love to hear from you.

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