Your finances if you are widowed

 

Losing your partner is a horrible, terrible blow in every way. But as well as the huge psychological, practical and emotional ramifications, there are financial implications as well. So what do you need to know?

Is there a will?

This is the first, and one of the most important, documents you need. If you made mirror wills, they you'll know what's in your partner's; if not, you need to find out who the beneficiaries are. This Mumsnetter explains:

"The most important thing to do (practical/financial wise) is make sure - if you have some warning - that there is an up-to-date will. We had a solicitor come out to our house as my husband was quite ill. Most firms should be able to do this. Your partner's employer will advise re Death in Service payments, and also any further pension payouts. I receive an annual income from my late husband's pension fund. Also, check if your partner paid into other pension funds, as you may be entitled to lump sums or monthly incomes from these." dutchmanswife

If your partner died intestate (ie without making a will), what happens next depends on the size of the estate. If your partner left less than £125,000, then all of it goes to you. If it was more than this, parents and siblings have the chance to benefit, too.

If you weren't married and your partner died intestate, you may have to prove in court that you have a morally justifiable claim on your partner's estate.

Death certificate

The second most important document you need is your partner's death certificate, because all the people you need to inform - such as the bank, credit card companies, mortgage provider etc - will require a copy of this.

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When you go to register your spouse's death, make sure you buy several copies of the death certificate - that way you can move on different fronts at the same time, which will save you a lot of time in the long term.

"Anything in your joint names passes automatically to you. Just present the bank, building society, land registry or whoever with a death certificate and they should take your husband's name off. Anything in your husband's sole name is slightly different. Generally, if there is less than £5k in the account the bank will not require a grant of probate. Some banks helpfully have a higher limit than that." madamblackberry

Surviving financially in the short term

In the immediate aftermath of a death, there are lots of costs to be met, and all your regular bills will still be coming in (possibly while you don't yet have access to all your partner's money). 

So, if people offer to help you, consider saying yes (especially if it's family and close friends, and you know they have savings they won't miss in the short term).
 

"The financial side can be terrifying. My husband was our sole earner - I have no immediate worries, my dear brother is looking after us, but I am full of long-term anxieties as to whether we can afford upkeep/bills for our large house. My husband and I renovated it completely together and it would be like leaving him behind to move." Evenstar

Benefits if you're bereaved

You may be eligible for the Bereavement Payment, a one-off, tax-free, lump-sum payment of £2,000 to tide you over the initial costs of losing your partner.

Other benefits you may be eligible for include:

  • Bereavement Allowance - a taxable, weekly benefit paid for the first year after your partner's death, provided you're aged at least 45
  • Widowed Parent's Allowance - a weekly benefit if you have dependent children


Where to get financial help

Sorting out your finances after you've lost your spouse is complicated, lengthy, and often emotionally fraught, as this Mumsnetter explains:

"Do make sure you return passports and driving licences for cancellation. I know this is upsetting, but it would be worse to find that a criminal had posed as your husband or wife and stolen the passport or driving licence details to obtain credit or launder money." madamblackberry

You're almost certainly going to need advice - and here are some of the places you can go for that.


Where to get emotional and practical help

As many moving threads on Mumsnet Talk illustrate, Mumsnetters are in it for the long haul when it comes to helping you come to terms with the emotional and practical aspects of your bereavement. If you need somewhere to turn for empathy and help, Mumsnet Talk is there 24/7.

 

Disclaimer: Any content in our family money section is intended as general information only. For specific advice about your personal financial situation, get advice from qualified, independent, regulated professionals.

Last updated: 20-Aug-2012 at 2:13 PM