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, funerals can cost over $5000.The cost will vary
greatly depending on the kind of service and the funeral company
you use. Your partner may also have left instructions about their
funeral in their will.
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. 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 costs to
- Funeral director fees
- Death certificate
- Burial/ cremation
- 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
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
the assets of your partner - in the way they have set out - and
finalise any debt and taxes they 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
will. Gather these documents as soon as you can:
- Banking records
- Credit, charge and store cards
- Taxation records
- Records of investments
If your partner dies 'intestate' or without a will, their assets
will then 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.
Use the your net worth calculator to help you. It will give you
a clear idea of your financial situation, any bills you have to
pay, and how much you can afford to invest.
Your net worth calculator
Taking the next steps
When your partner dies, you may be suddenly forced to take care
of money matters-something your partner may have done for many
years. You are now responsible for household finances like bills
Use our budget planner to see how you can manage your new income
and adjust your spending. That way you can stay in control of your
money and plan for the future.
You will probably experience a change in your household income
as a result of your loss. This might mean you become eligible for
government entitlements or it may alter the payments you
Contact the Department of Human
Services to check that you are receiving
all the payments you are entitled to.
Factor these into your new budget.
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 Bereavement.
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.'
On top of getting emotional support from family
and friends, you can take practical steps yourself to build more
security in your future. Help is available from organisations like
Centrelink to sort out your finances at this difficult time.
Last updated: 20 Aug 2013
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