When you lose someone who means the world to you, there’s no right or wrong way to grieve.
Coping independently is sometimes necessary in order to process everything; but this rarely happens without the emotional support of friends and family. If nothing else, knowing you have a supportive network could be enough to help you pull though.
The same could be said for the practical stuff. It will always feel too soon to start tackling financial matters, so it’s comforting to know there is plenty of support available. Remember, you don’t need to handle it all alone.
Government bereavement benefits
After losing a spouse or partner, make sure you take one step at a time when drawing upon the financial help available. Perhaps the first thing to look into is whether you are entitled to bereavement benefits:
Bereavement Payment: this is a one-off tax-free lump sum payment of £2,000. To be entitled, you must be under State Pension age when your partner died.
Widowed Parent’s Allowance: this is a payment of up to £112.55 a week (2015/16). You may be entitled if you’re pregnant or have at least one dependent child, providing you are still entitled to Child Benefit and widowed while under state pension age.
Things to note:
- Allowances are based on your spouse or civil partner’s National Insurance contributions.
- You will need to make a claim within three months from the date your partner died.
- Claims could affect other benefits you might be receiving.
- For more advice, try Bereavement benefits: technical guidance.
Wills, probate and inheritance
In addition to dealing with grief, you may also find yourself being named executor of the will. This means the deceased requested you to be the person who looks after their affairs once they have gone, such as distributing their estate (whether it be money, property or possessions) in accordance with the terms of their will.
If you find yourself in this situation then you’ll need to apply for a grant of representation, which gives you the right to manage these affairs. This process is known as a probate and can take around 3-6 months.
There are many listed solicitors that can help you prepare all (or some) of the paperwork, although the following government websites offer guidance if you want to find out more:
Wills, probate and inheritance: this gives advice on applying for a grant of representation so you can manage the affairs, as well as ensuring the inheritance is given out to those who are entitled to it. It also provides advice on what to do if there is no will.
Finding a person’s will: if you’re unsure on where to find the will, or whether one even exists, this offers some guidance on the places to search for it.
Inheritance Tax and Probate: this is a good place to find contact details for general advice; covering everything from understanding your Inheritance Tax responsibilities, to confirming which forms you need and how to complete them.
Inheritance Tax: probate summary (IHT421): you can use the IHT421 form to outline any assets that are to be inherited, or shared out to those who are entitled to them.
Of course, there are many other practical matters to consider when your spouse or partner has passed away, such as dealing with unwanted debt or simply reducing your council tax bills.
The Money Advice Service is a good place to seek additional guidance on managing these affairs. Check out what they have to say, so you don’t feel like you have to face everything on your own:
- Making or revising your will after someone dies
- Coping with debt after your partner dies
- Coping with a drop in income after your partner dies
- Dealing with the debts of someone who has died
- When should you use a probate specialist?
- Calculating and paying tax after someone dies