Steps to Take After Losing a Spouse
This blog post is supposed to help you to know what to do when you are faced with one of the worst things that can happen. Losing a partner is extremely devastating and it will take a long time to be able to recover from the loss. Even though you will be grieving it is still important to think about how you are going to take care of your finances. Here we are going to outline the most important steps to take after the loss of a partner.
Arranging a funeral
This is not an easy thing to do, and is something you will probably need help with. In Australia, funerals can cost up to a few thousand dollars, depending on which company you choose. You can usually get a quote for the cost of the funeral from the funeral director. Some costs may be covered under your partner’s life insurance policy. Some of the costs associated with a funeral are the funeral director fees, death certificate, coffin, cemetery plot, cremation, other expenses involved with the funeral ceremony.
Work out the will
Normally your partner will have a will, which is the legal document outlining how they want their assets to be distributed after their death. The will is given an executor who is the person who oversees distributing the assets to the beneficiaries outlined in the will. The documents required to administer the will are things like bank records, tax records, superannuation and any records of investments.
Determine your financial situation
Looking at what your financial situation is will help you to start making sure your financial needs are being taken care of. This includes calculating what the value of your assets are, such as your house, properties, superannuation or any other investments. As hard as it may be to think about in the moment, you’ll have to consider whether you can afford to keep living in your current home or if you’ll have to downscale. Over and above costs, you’ll also have to consider if you can continue with the upkeep and chores on your own, or if you’ll need help.
Deal with debts
Another important element of determining your financial situation is identifying what your debts are. By determining the value of your mortgage, or any other personal loans outstanding it will enable you to work out your net worth in comparison to your assets. If your net worth is negative, it means that it will important for you to start working towards paying these debts off.
Taking over the insurance
Some insurance policies may have been in your partner’s name so it’s important that you check the policies after you have lost your partner. Policies will automatically terminate if someone deceases, so it means that you wouldn’t be covered. Insurance policies you should look at are car insurance, home insurance, medical and life insurance. You may have to take out a new policy, or for home insurance you might just have to notify the provider of your changed circumstances. It’s also important to do this with life insurance policies, because you may want to change the policy a bit.
Plan your budget for the future
It will take some time getting used to life without your partner, but it’s important to start thinking about your new budget. Managing your household finances on your own might be a challenge, but it’s necessary to do, to be able to protect yourself in the future. It’s a good idea to track your expenses over a 3-month period. This will give you an idea of what your budget will look like. It will also help you to cut back in certain areas where need be.
Access your entitlements
Another important thing to consider, is what your entitlements are through Centrelink. You may be eligible for a widow allowance. If you are over the age of 40 when you lose a partner, haven’t had a job in the last 12 months and are under the income and assets test, and are born after July 1st, 1955, you could be eligible for a widow allowance.
Seek financial advice
You may want to seek financial advice after the death of a partner. There are some community organisations that offer free financial advice and financial counselling. Centrelink has a financial information service that you can access here: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/individuals/services/financial-information-service?utm_id=7
Seek personal support
You may also want to seek personal support from a professional, such as a counsellor. It’s always important to turn to family and friends to help you through this difficult time as well. A good resource is the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement which is an organisation that helps to support people who have experienced loss of someone close to them.
Prepare for your future
As hard as it is to start thinking about a future without your partner, it is important to make sure you plan your financial future. This is to ensure that you are going to be looked after financially. If you start to look at the steps mentioned above this a good start to getting your finances under control and preparing for your future.
How to take care of your finances after a divorce
Divorces can be very painful and difficult times for people. It can mark the beginning a massive change in your life, which can be very scary. It can also come with a lot of financial angst and stress. Though it doesn’t have to be as stressful as you think it might be, if you are organised and follow the steps listed below, it could be much less difficult. In this section of the blog we are going to try and cover all the things you should consider when it comes to finances after a divorce of separation.
Close joint accounts
It’s important to close any accounts that are open under both of your names. You should open your own account that is only under your name, and make sure that your income is going into this account. To close join both accounts there is a bit of a process to follow. Both account holders need to agree that account should be closed. You will also need to sort out the direct debits linked to this account and make sure that they are either cancelled or that you arrange for them to come out of a different account.
Evaluate your financial situation
It is important to take stock of your financial and assets and liabilities. This will enable you to determine how you are going to divide up the assets.
Note the date of your separation – you should record the date that you separate because you will need to provide proof that you have been separated for 12 months before you are able to file for a divorce.
Update rental agreement
If you separate your living situation might change, which means you will have to update your rental agreement if one of you moves out. Make sure you are not liable for any missed payments missed from your partner.
Update utility bills
Changing the name on the account for utility bills means that you won’t have to be liable for any unpaid bills if you are no longer at the property.
Seek legal advice
It’s important to get some advice from a professional when you separate. This is so that you know how you are going to plan things ahead. They can help you know what to do about what you are going to do with housing arrangements, about children and even about how to manage and pay off your debts after the divorce.
Create a new budget
It important to create a new budget for yourself, one that reflects the costs of your new lifestyle. Being separated might mean don’t have to make the same sort of payments that you did back when you were in a relationship.
Money Smart has a useful budget planner that will help you set up a good budget for yourself: https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/tools-and-resources/calculators-and-apps/budget-planner
Organise your will
Organising your will is important as it will reflect the changes to your life because of the divorce. It will include reviewing your insurance policy, on your car insurance, home insurance and life insurance. You may also need to change your beneficiaries, i.e. if you’re beneficiary is your spouse.
Organise your superannuation
This is one of the most important steps you can take towards securing your financial future. Super can be treated like an asset after you are divorced, and can be divided in half with your spouse.
Taking care of children after a divorce
If you and your partner have children you will need to work out the arrangements for how they will be looked after. It may also be worth looking at whether it is possible to keep the family home so that the children don’t have to move to two different places.
To find out more about sorting out your finances after a divorce visit: https://www.moneysmart.gov.au/life-events-and-you/life-events/divorce-and-separation
How to bounce back from a divorce
Not only is the divorce process stressful and painful, it can also be very demoralising and you may feel very concerned about how you are going bounce back from this experience. Here is a list of tips to help you get back to being yourself again:
- Don’t let yourself be a victim – if you feel sorry for yourself and ask questions like ‘why me’ it could mean that you are delaying your ability to recover from the divorce. You can feel sad and grieve for a little while but important to not let this go on for too long. When you realise that having this mentality is not doing you any service, this is when you can really start rebuilding your life.
- Surround yourself with friends and family – making sure that you surround yourself with supportive people who care about you, will make the recovering process much easier. If you kept busy and surrounded by people who love and care about you, you are much more likely to remain positive and not fall in to trap of depression.
- Keeping busy – keep yourself busy with a range of weekend and extra curricular activities. Not only will you keep yourself distracted from thinking about the divorce, but you will probably make new friends and even learn a new skill. You could also keep busy by doing some new activities with your kids, as well as other family and friends.
- Keep healthy – this is another very important in being able to remain happy and to help you to bounce back after a divorce. When you exercise and eat healthy you will begin to look good and feel good. This should be at the top of your priority list for helping you to re-build yourself. It’s also very important to make sure you are getting good sleeps at night. This will make sure that your energy levels remain high to perform activities throughout the day.
- Keep a journal – This is a good practice to help you manage your emotions. Writing down your thoughts and feelings of an evening is constructive way of managing the emotional turmoil you might be going through after your divorce. This is another practice that can go hand in hand with keeping healthy. A healthy mind is part of that too. Whilst it may seem tedious, the benefits could be worth it.
- Develop a good routine – divorce can be incredibly devastating and can completely turn your world upside down. That’s why it’s so important develop a strong routine, to help you add some stability back into your life. This is also important to help your kids with what they must be going through as a part of the divorce too. They will need the stability as much as you.
Losing a partner through death or divorce are both very difficult situations to go through. It means having to reassess your finances and start setting yourself up for the future. But doing so can be very hard in itself – it’s hard to know where to start and what to do. Therefore, you can refer to the above list, as resources to help you to move forward and to give you a good starting point. It’s worth getting financial advice just to really set yourself up for the future.