Losing your partner
Coping with the loss of your partner
Losing your partner changes your life, and money matters may
seem unimportant at the time. Taking practical steps can help you
get through this period and better prepare you for the future.
Arranging a funeral
Organising a funeral is never easy but it will probably be your
first task after your partner dies. Funeral costs can vary greatly
and you may need to budget ahead to pay for them.
How much does a funeral cost?
In Australia, the cost of a basic funeral starts from around
$5,000.The cost will vary greatly depending on the kind of service
and the funeral company you use. Your partner may have left
instructions about their funeral in their will.
Many different funeral companies actually belong to the same
group. Make sure you're really comparing different companies when
looking at funeral directors' prices and services.
To find out how much the funeral will
cost, ask the funeral director for an itemised and written
quote. Don't be afraid to ask questions. If you don't feel up
to doing this yourself, ask a friend or family member to make the
calls for you. While an itemised quote is required by law for
basic funerals in NSW, you can ask for an itemised quote, no matter
where you are in Australia.
Try to spend only what you can afford. Here are some of the
costs to consider:
- Funeral director fees
- Death certificate
- Cemetary plot
- Other expenses, such as a celebrant or clergy, flowers,
newspaper notices and the wake.
Getting help with funeral costs
If you are paying for a partner's funeral, their bank may be
able to release money from their account to help pay funeral
expenses before 'probate' is granted (that is, before the court
validates their will).
If you think your partner had a funeral bond or made pre-paid
funeral arrangements but you can't find the paperwork, check with
your solicitor or the executor of the estate. Some private health
and life insurance policies, which are sometimes held through
superannuation funds, also pay some funeral costs. Read about super death
Some organisations can help with the cost of a funeral. Contact
the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) on 13 32 54 (1800 555 254
for regional callers) about how it can help support you
through deaths and funerals.
A bereavement payment may be available through the Department of
Human Services. See their webpage on what to
do following a death or call 13 23 00 (1800 810 586 for
Working out the will
Your partner will probably have left a 'will', or legal document
that sets out how they wanted their 'estate', or personal
assets, to be distributed after their death.
The executor of a will is the individual
chosen to distribute your partner's assets according to their will.
They will also finalise any debt and taxes your partner owed.
People entitled to part of your partner's estate are known as beneficiaries. Assets can only be
distributed after debts are paid and once the Supreme Court has
granted 'probate', or validated the will.
The executor will need the following documents to administer the
- Banking records
- Credit, charge and store cards
- Taxation records
- Records of investments.
If your partner dies 'intestate' (or without a will), their
assets will be distributed according to a pre-determined formula by
you stand financially
Although you may still be grieving, you must take care of
yourself, and that includes your finances. When you're ready, get a
handle on your finances and work out where you now stand. This will
let you plan ahead.
Having a clear idea of your financial situation, any bills you
have to pay, and how much you can afford to invest is a great
Work out the strength of your current financial situation.
Your net worth calculator
Taking the next steps
When your partner dies, you may be suddenly forced to take care
of money matters, and take on sole responsibility for your
household's finances, including bills and insurance.
Using a budget can help you manage your new income and adjust
Stay in control of your money and plan for your future.
Checking your financial entitlements
You will probably experience a change in your household income
as a result of your loss. However, you should check whether
you're entitled to money from any of these sources:
- Government payments: Contact
the Department of Human
Services to check that you are receiving all the
payments you are entitled to.
- Bank accounts: Contact your partner's bank to
notify them of your loss. They will advise you what information
they need and the next steps you need to take. If you shared a
joint bank account with your partner, all the money will transfer
- Insurance and superannuation: If your partner
had life cover
through an insurer or superannuation fund, contact them to find out
what you need to do to claim a death benefit.
- Unclaimed money: Check if your partner is owed
any money from lost bank accounts, shares, investments or life
insurance policies using the unclaimed money search.
Seeking financial advice
You may be able to turn to friends and family for help in taking
control of your financial wellbeing. You can get free information
and advice from some government and community organisations about
how to plan and manage your finances. Find out about financial
counselling or contact the Department of Human Services' Financial Information
Seeking other support
Don't be afraid to seek emotional support from a professional if
you need it.
If you are a Centrelink customer, find out about the Department
of Human Services' social work services or phone 13
You can also contact:
There is a comprehensive listing of online bereavement resources
available from the Australian Centre for Grief and
Preparing for your future
If your partner's name was used in your policies for
superannuation, insurance or health, or in your will, then you will
need to update these documents.
Case study: The death of Beth's husband
Following the death of her husband, Beth, 64,
suddenly had to take charge of her financial wellbeing at a time
when she was overcome with grief.
'In our 42-year marriage, my husband Arthur always looked after
our money. When he died, I had to learn to do
everything Arthur had always done. My two sons were wonderful,
helping me sort out my pension entitlements, showing me how to pay
bills and helping me draw up a spending budget.
'I miss my husband terribly, I always will. But time is a great
healer, and I'm slowly getting back on my feet and learning to take
care of my finances.'
As well as getting emotional support from family
and friends, you can take practical steps yourself to build your
future financial security. Help is available from organisations
like Centrelink to sort out your finances at this difficult
Last updated: 12 Jun 2018