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Handling Finances After the Death of a Loved One

Handling Finances After the Death of a Loved One: Quick Guide

Handling Finances After the Death of a Loved One: Quick Guide

Coping with the loss of a loved one can already be highly emotionally challenging. But facing the day-to-day financial implications of their passing and dealing with them afterwards can create overwhelming feelings of distress and uncertainty if you’ve never done it before.

You might suddenly find yourself thrust into the unfamiliar role of managing finances for the first time in your life.

Taking on the responsibility of overseeing family finances or adjusting to a reduced income can feel overwhelming, particularly after a period of comfortable living. And all this while you’re grieving, too.

Unfortunately, financial obligations such as bill payments remain throughout the grieving process. Additionally, you’ll have immediate expenses of a funeral to contend with, perhaps adding to an already difficult situation.

Where to Begin?

The passing of a loved one can leave you feeling overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin. The emotional elements of loss only add to the problems.

Some things must be dealt with immediately, such as funeral expenses and household bills. Even though you are in grief, regular bills and payments won’t go away.

You may need access to a loved one’s bank accounts to sort out the finances and make payments. If you don’t have the authority in place, you will need to get a grant of probate or letters of administration if your loved one didn’t leave a will.

It's important to avoid making significant financial choices in the immediate aftermath of losing a loved one.

Give yourself space to process the shock and grief, allowing things to settle. If your situation is complex, engage professional services like a solicitor and ask for their assistance in navigating the financial implications of your loss. A solicitor can help you when you’re applying for probate, or give you any other advice in regards to the financial situation, such as tax requirements on the estate.

Financial Documents

It’s a good idea to find everything related to money and finances, including life insurance and other such documents, and store them somewhere safe together.

Collect any insurance policies, investment records, property deeds and perhaps most importantly, the will, if there is one.

If the loved one was a spouse, a copy of your marriage certificate and your partner's birth certificate will definitely come in handy. At some point, you’ll need copies of your loved one’s death certificate, too. Many organisations will request this, and each will have its own policies. If you’re unsure, you should get in touch with the institution to learn what’s required.

Managing Day-to-Day Finances

Following the death of a loved one, you'll likely face a different range of expenses and income sources. If the deceased was a spouse or partner, you might be solely responsible for the finances, and that can be pretty daunting.

Begin by categorising expenses into monthly and annual payments. Next, list all sources of income, such as salary or pensions. It’s also an excellent time to consider implementing cost-saving measures by reassessing expenses, no matter how modest. Think about cancelling discretionary services or subscriptions, which can all add up.

Moving Forward

If you have to manage the finances involving a large estate, a business, or multiple properties, consider getting advice from a financial planner or estate planning professional.

If you get a significant sum of money from a loved one’s insurance policy or will, don’t make purchases or investments until you feel composed and capable of making sound, reasoned decisions.

It's common for people who have received a substantial cash payout to want to spend, whether on perceived necessities or gifts for loved ones. However, it's essential to resist the urge to spend impulsively. Keeping the money for future needs or emergencies is important.

Final Thoughts

Navigating finances after the death of a loved one can be emotionally overwhelming. But getting a handle on them is important. Bills and other payments remain, even after a death, so keeping them at the top of any list is important.  Begin by gathering essential documents and seeking support from professionals like lawyers or financial advisors where it’s needed.

Take time to understand any financial obligations, including debts and estate planning. Prioritise tasks such as notifying financial institutions and beneficiaries, and consider seeking grief counselling and support groups who can be a source of support in tough times.

With a bit of planning, you won’t need to feel overwhelmed.


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