Managing the Death of a Loved One
Practical Steps to Cope
Losing a partner can completely change your life, making money matters seem less important. There are numerous practical steps, however, so that you can make it through this difficult time and be better prepared to move forward.
- Planning a Funeral
- How to Get Help with the Costs
- Following the Will
- What Next?
Planning the Funeral
Setting up a funeral isn't easy, but it will likely be one of the first things you'll need to handle after the death of a partner. Funeral costs can be high, and it can be important to budget ahead so that you have enough money to cover them.
What Does a Funeral Cost?
The cost of a basic funeral in the United States runs between $8,000 and $10,000. If you opt for only cremation, the cost may be less, but it will depend on individual service providers in your area. Your funeral costs can also vary a great deal depending on the funeral home you use and the type of service that you plan. Your partner may have left specific instructions in their will or may have prepaid for funeral arrangements.
Smart Tip: Often, several different funeral companies work together as part of the same group. Be sure that you're actually comparing numerous companies, instead of companies within the same group, as you evaluate funeral prices and services.
To determine how much a funeral may cost, ask the director for a written quote that's itemized. Don't be anxious about asking questions. If you aren't feeling up to handling this process yourself, you can ask a friend or family member to call several service providers for you with a list of questions.
Do your best to only spend what you can afford. Keep the following costs in mind:
- Funeral director fees
- The death certificate
- Any necessary permits
- Burial or cremation
- A cemetery plot
- Celebrant or clergy
- Newspaper notices
How to Get Help with the Costs
If you're paying for your partner's funeral, it's possible that their bank may be able to release money from their account in order to cover funeral expenses before the will is fully validated by the court.
If you are aware that your partner had purchased a funeral bond or had pre-paid for their funeral, but you aren't sure where they put the paperwork, check with the executor of their estate or with your family's attorney. Some private health or life insurance policies also have money set aside for funeral costs.
There are a few organizations that will assist with funeral costs, as well. Reach out to the Department of Veterans' Affairs to find out how they can assist you with deaths and funerals if your partner was a member of the armed forces.
If you are low income, you may be able to receive assistance through the Department of Human Services. Reach out to your state's DHHR to learn how to qualify for these benefits.
Following the Will
Your partner will likely have written a will that lays out how they wanted their assets to be handled after their passing.
The executor of the will is the person that has been chosen to distribute these assets following the directions of the will. This person can also finalize any taxes or debt that your partner had. Individuals who are entitled to a part of your partner's estate are called beneficiaries. The assets can only be distributed after all of your partner's debts have been paid and the will has been finalized.
The executor will need access to the following:
- Banking information
- Credit cards, debit cards, and credit accounts
- Tax records
- Records of any investments
If your partner dies with no will, the assets will be distributed based on a government formula.
While you may be grieving your partner's passing, it's important to take care of your own needs, including your finances. As soon as you're able, it's important to determine where you now stand and begin to plan your finances for the future.
After the death of a partner, you may suddenly need to be the only person responsible for your household's financial matters, including bills and insurance.
It's important to set up a budget so that you can manage your income and handle your spending appropriately.
You will likely have a change in income because of your loss. It's important to check to see if you'll be able to access money from any of the following:
Government Payments: Contact the Department of Health and Human Services to ask if you're receiving everything that you're entitled to.
Bank accounts: Reach out to your partner's bank and let them know about the death. They will let you know what information they'll need to provide you with access to the account.
Unclaimed Funds: Check to see if your partner has any outstanding unclaimed money from investments, life insurance, bank accounts, or retirement policies.
Ask for Advice if You Need It
If you need help, you may be able to contact friends or family for more information about handling your family's finances. You may also be able to get free advice and education from government organizations or community charities.
If your partner's name is used as a beneficiary for your insurance, or if they are in your will, you'll need to update these documents.
It's important to reach out for emotional support, while also taking as many practical steps as possible to ensure you're financially secure in the future. Help is available so that you can manage your finances through this difficult period of your life.