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    • MSE Martin
    • By MSE Martin 8th Jan 07, 6:34 PM
    • 8,083Posts
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    MSE Martin
    What to do when a partner/spouse dies.
    • #1
    • 8th Jan 07, 6:34 PM
    What to do when a partner/spouse dies. 8th Jan 07 at 6:34 PM
    MSE Update:

    We now have a guide, Dealing with Death that we hope may help along with a Forum Board: Deaths, Funerals & Probate

    Why I'm doing this?

    Very sadly, just before Christmas one of the chat forum's user's husband died, and she received great support and advice through it (here's the original thread, and of course I checked with Stormybay she wouldn't mind me making this public)

    It made me think, at that difficult time, help is needed to sort out the logistics of money, and organisation - a checklist of things to do, as thinking straight at such a time is very hard.

    Is it just for a spouse/partner

    No, if it applies when another close family member, or a friend for whom you act as next of kin dies, tips there are relevant too.

    What help I want?

    So I need your help, those who've been through it, please feedback your experience and advice, I'll then combine this with my own notes and make an checklist article everyone can use if they need it.

    Thank you


    Last edited by MSE Andrea; 26-03-2014 at 10:24 AM.
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.

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Page 1
    • donny-gal
    • By donny-gal 9th Jan 07, 8:33 PM
    • 4,534 Posts
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    • #2
    • 9th Jan 07, 8:33 PM
    • #2
    • 9th Jan 07, 8:33 PM
    No experience, but one thought has crossed my mind reading the original thread. I do all the money, know what to pay and when, where all the money is saved, etc., dh would not have a clue where to start, neither does he use a PC, but ds could do that for him, so I think I'd better type up all the info for him, just in case, but how can I do this and not let it get into the wrong hands if say we are burgled?
  • Stormybay
    • #3
    • 9th Jan 07, 8:41 PM
    • #3
    • 9th Jan 07, 8:41 PM
    Thank you for this Forum Martin, if I can help the pain of just one other person, then this certainly will be a small part of my (hopefully) healing process.
    I will probably come across lots of information over the coming months but for now, 1 tip is to keep all your paperwork in one place so that they can easily be found by the other half if anything happens and MAKE A WILL!
  • Bossyboots
    • #4
    • 9th Jan 07, 8:42 PM
    • #4
    • 9th Jan 07, 8:42 PM
    No experience, but one thought has crossed my mind reading the original thread. I do all the money, know what to pay and when, where all the money is saved, etc., dh would not have a clue where to start, neither does he use a PC, but ds could do that for him, so I think I'd better type up all the info for him, just in case, but how can I do this and not let it get into the wrong hands if say we are burgled?
    by donny-gal
    Sellotape the list behind the kitchen cupboard, fridge or something like that. Not in the bedroom though as that could be discovered.

    One thing my OH and I have discussed is setting up a joint account from which to pay the bills. As it stands at the moment, his account would be frozen along with all the direct debits. Although I have some savings of my own, the last thing I would need to be doing if the worst happens would be to worry about getting the bills paid.

    This thread has reminded me that we need to do this and you never know what's around the corner.
    • mountainofdebt
    • By mountainofdebt 9th Jan 07, 9:03 PM
    • 7,424 Posts
    • 10,789 Thanks
    • #5
    • 9th Jan 07, 9:03 PM
    • #5
    • 9th Jan 07, 9:03 PM
    Speaking as someone who has had to help second guess (twice) what funeral arrangements the deceased would have preferred, to talk about what you would like.

    I know some people would find it hard to talk about, especially of you don't anticipate dying but it does gives those left behind a starting point.

    I would also strongly recommend making a will - and let people know where to find it - bank etc - and I've also when I've gone away for a long period of time, given details of insurance policies....ok they haven't had the specifics but just the company name is a useful start.

    Getting copies of the death certificate is useful - I know it might be expensive but it saves having to wait for companies to process the only copy and returning it before it can be sent onto another company.
    2014 Target;
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    Overpayment to date : £310

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  • zztopgirl
    • #6
    • 9th Jan 07, 9:19 PM
    • #6
    • 9th Jan 07, 9:19 PM
    I second what Stormybay says, make a will. Dont put it off, or think its too morbid an idea.

    Also, if someone can help take over financial matters, when my dh was in intensive care, a trusted nieghbour handled all the benefit claims for me. I found social services to be pretty useless but this might not be the case all over, they expected me to be in 20 places at once to do all the paperwork, etc, when the only place i wanted to be was at dh's side.

    My one bit of advice, would be to arrange with a deeply trusted friend/relative/neighbour to take over arranging benefit claims/paying of urgent/regular bills, and so on, should the worst happen. My head did kind of take over for a bit and i was able to arrange some stuff for a couple of days, but it does get overwhelming and its impossible to do everything alone.

    I have also put dh as a third party on my bank account, in case anything happens to me. God forbid. He cant go as a joint account due to bankruptcy.

    Stormybay (((((hugs))))) to you. Take care of yourself. My thoughts are with you.
  • MinnieSpender
    • #7
    • 9th Jan 07, 9:29 PM
    Step by step advice to what to do in the case of bereavement
    • #7
    • 9th Jan 07, 9:29 PM
    Martin asked me to repost this on here from the original thread. I hope it helps.

    A very concise link to the government's advice on what to do is a good starting point -

    It may also be useful to download this PDF or to send off for it on this link:

    The above link only applies to England & Wales. I can't find the appropriate documents for Scotland or Northern Ireland, but if anyone else can, please provide the link.
    What if the hokey cokey is what it's all about?

    Official "Bring back Mark and Lard NOW! or else (please)" Member 16
  • Teddysudds
    • #8
    • 9th Jan 07, 9:34 PM
    • #8
    • 9th Jan 07, 9:34 PM
    When my father died someone told us that my Mum shouldn't drive as she was a named driver on my Dad's insurance and it was no longer valid.

    This was not something that we would even thought about but is obviously very important.
  • MinnieSpender
    • #9
    • 9th Jan 07, 9:34 PM
    Helping children through bereavement
    • #9
    • 9th Jan 07, 9:34 PM
    This is also from the original post.

    The Beeb has this guide to children and bereavement:

    It's quite general, but might be a good place to start.

    From there, I found the website for the Child Bereavement Trust:

    Have a look at their resources page which has a link to various downloadable leaflets and a section on recommended reading. With reference to your situation, have a look at the list here:

    You may also find this helpful:

    Also, don't forget to keep talking as a family. As much as they will need you through this difficult time, let them know that you need them too. And hug each other a lot.
    What if the hokey cokey is what it's all about?

    Official "Bring back Mark and Lard NOW! or else (please)" Member 16
  • MinnieSpender
    No experience, but one thought has crossed my mind reading the original thread. I do all the money, know what to pay and when, where all the money is saved, etc., dh would not have a clue where to start, neither does he use a PC, but ds could do that for him, so I think I'd better type up all the info for him, just in case, but how can I do this and not let it get into the wrong hands if say we are burgled?
    by donny-gal
    I think this is a wonderful idea, donny-gal.

    Have you considered placing this kind of information in a safety deposit box at the bank? I'm not sure about the cost of doing this, but if it's reasonable it might be worth doing, particularly for the peace of mind it will give you. Talk it through with him and let him know where you decide to store it.

    Alternatively, if your children know how to use the computer, type up the document and save it on your computer using a password so that the information isn't easily accessible. Remember to let your ds know what it is.
    What if the hokey cokey is what it's all about?

    Official "Bring back Mark and Lard NOW! or else (please)" Member 16
  • MinnieSpender
    Just a thought to the moderator. Any chance of making this thread a sticky? If anyone needs it in a hurry they won't have to trawl through to find it.

    What if the hokey cokey is what it's all about?

    Official "Bring back Mark and Lard NOW! or else (please)" Member 16
  • UKJubilee
    From experience (my mum a single parent died suddenly from cancer last year) the MOST important thing to know immediately before any paperwork IS WHAT THEY WANTED. I was being asked did she want a burial or cremation, did she say where she wanted it etc etc and I didn't know as we hadn't gotten round to discussing it. (She had been given at least 6 months but it ended up being only 2, so the plan to discuss it nearer the time never happened). Don't just put it in your Will and consider it done as the Will may not be found in time.

    It's a nightmare trying to track everything down. If you can keep all financial paperwork in 1 place so it can be found it makes life a lot easier. We spent weeks chasing it all down...

    Since then I have created a spreadsheet with all my money details including bank accounts, savings, shares, pensions and any life insurance or accidental death cover you might have, contact telephone numbers, reference numbers and addresses.

    It is important to make sure your Executors know they have been nominated and you advise them where your will is. It took us days to find the will, luckily I was right on who I thought the Executors were. Since her death I have made my own Will as it has made me realise how important they are. I also ensure an Executor knows where I keep it.

    Finally, if it's a sudden death (as in our case) there will need to be an autopsy and this will delay the death certificate for several days which can make things difficult with banks and freezing accounts etc.

    Hope this helps
    Last edited by UKJubilee; 09-01-2007 at 11:14 PM.
    TTC since 11/09
  • EMG22
    My dad died suddently at Christmas (1986). Mum and dad had their own accounts and luckily a joint one. My dad's accounts were frozen straight away and had to wait until probate, which took several months. If it wasn't for the joint account, I'm not sure how my mum would have survived. On registering my dad's death, I requested many copies of the death certificate. This was really useful as everyone needed an original, a photocopy would not do. This saved a lot of time and upset. My mother, sister and I also made a huge list of people that needed to be informed and things returned, e.g. passport, driving license, medical card, etc. One of the most upsetting things is that names and addresses on mailing lists can be sold on. Still to this day my mother will get unsolicited post in my dad's name. Perhaps someone will know a quicker way to remove names from mailing lists. I was in my early 20's at the time and it had a huge impact on me. My husband and I have talked about our last wishes, have a joint savings account, taken out modest life cover and have made wills. We both know how to access account numbers, passport details, etc so that should the worst happen the surviving partner would be able to cope.
  • Londoncab777
    Hi have been through this when my father in law died recently best advice I was given was to make a template letter and save it, I agree get extra copies of the death certificate and ask the funeral director if you need to make an appointment to see the registra. remember if the person no longer there was a member of any union or company let them know sometimes they will make a one off payment towards funeral expenses. new to the forum side of this so sorry if this was a long winded reply
  • Londoncab777
    emg22 if you go to the post office webb site there is a link to a site i think its the mailing preference scheme you can register a death of a loved one with them so you should stop any further mail shots hope this helps
  • Stormybay
    Another thing I have come across is when you do register a death, there is (or was in my case, for John and my dad), a form to send off to stop unsolicited mail. This came with a pack which contained the certificate, along with a DSS booklet stating what to do when a death occurs in England or Wales. I must say that the form I sent off for my dad DID stop MOST mail to him, for this I was grateful. I haven't sent of John's yet, but will do asap.

    I must also reiterate what UKJubilee says too. When my Mum died 7 years ago, my father, brother and I organised a cremation as we didn't know there was a will. The bank phoned us 3 weeks later with a will, at the top it said 'I wish my body to be buried'.

    So please, please tell someone of your wishes, you only get the one chance.

  • David Harrison
    Not sure if anyone has mentioned these yet but a Deed of Variation can be very useful. It allows the will of the deceased to be altered, any time up to two years after their death, so long as all beneficiaries are in agreement. It can be a very useful tool for changing who gets what, especially so far as inheritance tax goes. For example when my father died he left everything to my mum, but in doing so he completely wasted his inheritance tax allowance of £260,000 (approx.). With the deed of variation we were able to distribute some of the estate, meaning that when my mum dies her estate will not be taxed so heavilly.

    Little known, but could save, literally, a fortune.
    • shazbig
    • By shazbig 9th Jan 07, 11:51 PM
    • 82 Posts
    • 115 Thanks
    A family member died just before Christmas this year, he had not got around to making a will. He and his partner were not married. His partner is not allowed to apply to deal with his estate. There is a list of people who can here -


    This is very stressful for the partner, as she is not able to sort out the finances, etc.

    I don't really want to go into too much personal detail on here, but i vowed that as part of my New Year resolution i would advise as many people as possible to make a will, and possibly avoid anyone the pain and complications currently being suffered.

    I have verbally spoken with lots of people i know (especially those who live together and are not married) and now hope i can also nudge people via this thread to make a will.

    I would also advise they you speak amongst your nearest and dearest regarding your final wishes, maybe write them down. Do you want a burial or cremation? Do you want anything else specific? A hymn/song, Flowers or a donation to a charity? Do you want a specific type of service? All these things will make it easier for those left behind, nothing is worse than trying to guess these things and the uncertainty of whether you have done the right thing or not.

  • Triple S
    Making a will
    As most have pointed out a Will is a definite item in planning for the future, something me and my mum just discussed but can anyone recommend where to go to get one made (without being ripped off - maybe Martin can look into this).
    I've seen several websites/companies which claim to make a basic will for around £20-£30 i.e. you complete online details and they send it out to you to sign. I understand a solicitor charges around £100. Are the ready made wills any good or legal or do I have to go to a solicitor.
    My mum wants a will which leaves her assets to me and both my kids (3 way split) etc Has anyone here got any recommendations

    Thanks for any advice and Keep up the excellent work

  • newoap
    A Useful Book
    When my mother died 3 years ago I bought a bought called `Death and Probate` -a self help guide to managing procedures. It`s by Gordon Bowley & costs £9.99. It answers every thinkable question & I have since lent it to 2 friends.
    A safety precaution is to have a Power of Attorney in place in case someone becomes mentally incapacitated, especially if you live alone.
    This is not an easy subject to think about but the more one can do whilst alive, make a will, plan your funeral, give details of financial bodies etc to a reliable relative the easier it is for those left behind at a time of mental stress & sadness.
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