Losing a loved one is always a difficult time and you’ll be stuck in a whirlwind of emotions. The last thing you’ll be thinking about is the financial implications of bereavement. Unfortunately, you need to start thinking about this stuff at some point because it’s going to affect you.
You should always take some time to grieve, of course, but staying on top of the financial issues around the death of a loved one is still very important. It’s also not something that people usually consider until it happens. Understanding what those financial implications are will make the whole process a lot easier for you and avoid any unnecessary stress. These are the biggest financial challenges you’ll face after a bereavement.
Dealing With The Will
One of the first things you’ll have to do after the death of a loved one is dealing with their last will and testament. It can be a very difficult process emotionally because you’ll be going through a lot of memories and mementoes but it can also be difficult financially. If there are any disputes about the will in the family, things can get very ugly. The best thing to do in that situation is to seek legal advice from somebody like Bannister Preston, Wills and probate solicitors and handle everything through them. If you try to sort out these tricky disputes on your own, your emotions will get the better of you and you’ll just end up arguing without actually solving anything. You need to keep your distance from one another and let everything go through the correct legal channels. That way, you avoid letting the financial dispute cause a rift in your family.
Often, when a loved one dies, they’ll leave their house to the family. Deciding what to do with the house can cause problems. This is especially tricky if the house is split between more than one family member and you can’t agree on what to do. If one of you wants to move into the house, that isn’t fair on the others because that person will be getting the benefit while the others get nothing. If that is the case, the person that wants to move in will have to buy the others out of their share. If they can’t afford to do that, you’ll have to think about doing something else with the house. Another option is to rent the place out and split the money but that also raises problems. Who is going to deal with maintenance on the house and cover that cost? Who is going to deal with finding tenants etc? The important thing here is that you need to agree from the outset who has what responsibilities. If neither of those options works out, selling the house and splitting the money is the best thing to do. When you’re selling the house, remember that you’re going to have to cover all of the estate agents fees etc. and spend some time showing the house. You have some time to decide but you should meet with the family and work out what you’re going to do with the house.
Lack Of Income
If your partner or spouse dies and they were providing income, you could find yourself in some financial trouble. The first thing to do is start claiming any settlements from life insurance policies that they might have had. This process can take a while so, even though it’s the last thing you want to think about, you should set the wheels in motion. The faster you can get that money, the easier it’ll be to stay financially stable.
You also need to think about your budget now that your household income is significantly less than it was before. Look over all of your outgoings and work out how much you can afford to cover yourself. It’s likely that you’ll have a shortfall there so you need to work out some areas where you’ll be able to cut back. It’s also worth considering asking your employer if they are willing to give you a pay rise.
Once you’ve made all of the cutbacks that you can and sort out your budget, you might still be struggling. You need to look into what assistance is available to help you out with your finances. You may be able to claim housing benefit to help you out with your rent or mortgage and if you’re not working, you may be eligible for jobseekers allowance as well.
Time Off Work
It’s likely that you’ll take some time off work while you deal with the emotional impact of bereavement and that can cause some financial strain. You are, of course, entitled to paid time off work but that only extends so far. If you need more time, you’ll have to consider how you’re going to cover your living expenses during that period. If you’re working, you may not be entitled to any government assistance. That means you’ll have to dip into your savings if you have any or cut back on spending so you don’t hit hard times financially.
If you and your spouse dealt with certain aspects of your finances separately, you might struggle after they are gone. It will fall to you to start paying all of the bills that they were previously paying. You should be able to gain access to their bank account so you can see exactly what is going out of it. You need to switch all of the direct debits etc. over to your own bank account. If you don’t do this soon enough, you might end up missing payments. The companies that you owe money to aren’t always going to be understanding or forgiving about your situation and you can quickly find yourself in financial trouble.
When you’ve just lost a loved one, the last thing you want to be thinking about is getting your finances in order. But if you leave it and let things get out of control, that’s going to be a lot of unnecessary stress on you in an already difficult time.