Struggling with money after a bereavement

Help with money after a bereavement

It’s hard enough dealing with the pain of losing a loved one, but on top of that, you may be worried about money like managing day to day living costs, particularly if your partner was the main earner or was the person who usually dealt with the family finances. You may also be worried about the cost of a funeral, where the average funeral cost is £4,056 in the UK.

It’s not easy having to think about your finances when you’re grieving, so we’ve put some resources together to help you:

  1. Life insurance policy
    Did the person who passed away have life insurance? If so, you could be entitled to a payout. If you’re not sure, gather all documents related to their death. Get a copy of their will, if they had one, as some people put information about life insurance policies in those. If nothing comes to light, have a look through their financial papers, including any insurance documents.

    If you still can’t find anything, check any bank statements you have access to and then, if needed, check with a solicitor, accountant or employer. You can also visit Unclaimed Asset Register, a database of thousands of life insurance policies, unclaimed pensions, shares, dividends, dormant savings accounts and lottery winnings. UAR estimates there is around £1bn in unclaimed life policies alone. The firm charges £25 to run a search for a life policy.

  2. Debt support
    If you find yourself in debt after a bereavement, don’t worry, we’re here for you. First of all, visit our online debt resources for advice. Whatever the situation, together we can find a solution – so get in touch if you need to chat things through.

  3. Taking benefits into account
    You might be entitled to benefits or there may be other cost-cutting exercises that you’re not aware of. For example, if your partner has died and there’s now only one adult living in your property then you are entitled to a 25% discount on your council tax.

    You may also be able to claim a Bereavement Support Payment from the Government, if your husband, wife or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017. You’re eligible for this if they paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks, but you must have been under State Pension age and living in the UK when they died.

    While energy companies don’t offer discounts to single occupancy households, there are certain price plans that may be worth looking into if you now live alone, such as tariffs with no standing charges. Uswitch recommends people living alone make sure they are on a plan that rewards low usage.

  4. Income support
    You may be entitled to Income Support or Universal Credit from the Government if your earnings are below a certain level. If you work, or have worked, in the automotive industry or are dependent on someone who has, get in touch with us and we can help you claim benefits you are entitled to.

  5. Funding a funeral
    Funerals can be costly, with an average cost of around £4,056 (before optional items like flowers and catering), although this can vary depending on the type of funeral you choose. Sometimes the person who died has already paid for their funeral and have a funeral plan, or they have left some money in their estate to cover it. If so, the executor of the estate will take care of paying the funeral bill.

    There can be other ways of getting help with funeral costs. For example, a relative or friend who pays for the funeral can get the costs back from the estate if there’s enough in it. If you're worried and need help to pay for a funeral, then read our tips below and get in touch if you need more support.

    If you are in receipt of certain benefits you may also be able to support from DWP for funeral expenses.

    There are also other ways to keep funeral costs down. If you’re using a funeral director:
    • Request a full breakdown of costs so you can see any hidden charges
    • Get quotes from a few funeral directors or try a price comparison website such as beyond life or your funeral care
    • Only sign a contract with a funeral director when you’ve decided you want to use them and you know how you’re going to pay for the funeral

      Make sure they are a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors or the National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors.

  6. Other options
    You can consider a direct cremation or direct burial which means there is no ceremony, viewing, hearse or procession to the funeral. This option won’t be the right choice for everyone, but it’s becoming increasingly popular for those choosing their own funeral to keep costs down for their family and go with an alternative option.

    After all, family members can organise a less formal memorial service/celebration of life/ash scattering at a later date. It can be seen as a more flexible option, offering family members the choice of how, when and where they say goodbye to their loved one.

    You don’t have to use a funeral director, but if you don’t, you’ll need to organise everything yourself. This is an option to keep costs down but it may be more stressful and is likely to take up more of your time.

  7. Make a budget
    You may need to take another look at your finances and make a new budget, taking into account your income and outgoings. If you need some help with budgeting, you can use our budget planner and our guide on how to budget.

If you’re struggling to make ends meet after a bereavement, for whatever reason, we’re here. Above all, remember that everything can be sorted out and that we’re here for you. If you can’t cope, call our free and confidential support line on 08081 311 333 or chat with us online.

More about bereavement support

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How to support a child who is grieving
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Look after yourself while you grieve
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Supporting a grieving parent
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Bereavement: Useful links

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