1. Arranging a funeral
Organising a funeral is never easy but it will probably be your first task after your partner dies. Funeral costs can vary greatly and you may need to budget ahead to pay for them.
How much does a funeral cost?
In Australia, funerals can cost over $5000.The cost will vary greatly depending on the kind of service and the funeral company you use. Your partner may also have left instructions about their funeral in their will.
To find out how much the funeral will cost, ask the funeral director for an itemised and written quote. Don't be afraid to ask questions. While an itemised quote is required by law for basic funerals in NSW, you can ask for an itemised quote no matter where you are in Australia.
Try to spend only what you can afford. Here are costs to consider:
- Funeral director fees
- Death certificate
- Burial/ cremation
- Cemetary plot
- Other expenses, such as a celebrant or clergy, flowers, newspaper notices and the wake
Getting help with funeral costs
If you are paying for a partner's funeral, their bank may be able to release money from their account to help pay funeral expenses before 'probate' is granted, that is, before the court validates their will.
If you think your partner had a funeral bond or made pre-paid funeral arrangements but you can't find the paperwork, check with your solicitor or the executor of the estate. Some private health and life insurance policies, which are sometimes held through superannuation funds, also pay some funeral costs.
Some organisations can help with the cost of a funeral. Contact the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA) on 13 32 54 about how it can help support you through deaths and funerals.
A bereavement payment may be available through the Department of Human Services. See their webpage on what to do following a death or call 13 23 00.
2. Working out the will
Your partner will probably have left a 'will', or legal document that sets out how they wanted their 'estate', or personal assets, to be distributed after their death.
The 'executor' of a will is the individual chosen to distribute the assets of your partner - in the way they have set out - and finalise any debt and taxes they owed. People entitled to part of your partner's estate are known as 'beneficiaries'. Assets can only be distributed after debts are paid and once the Supreme Court has granted 'probate', or validated the will.
The executor will need the following documents to administer the will. Gather these documents as soon as you can:
- Banking records
- Credit, charge and store cards
- Taxation records
- Records of investments
If your partner dies 'intestate' or without a will, their assets will then be distributed according to a pre-determined formula by the government.
3. Determining where you stand financially
Although you may still be grieving, you must take care of yourself, and that includes your finances. When you're ready, you can access information and advice from one of our Planners at Southern Advisory. This will help you plan ahead.
You will probably experience a change in your household income as a result of your loss. This might mean you become eligible for government entitlements or it may alter the payments you receive. We can help you work out what entitlements you may be able to access.
4. Seeking other support
Don't be afraid to seek emotional support from a professional if you need it.
You can also contact:
- Lifeline Australia or phone 13 11 14 for a free 24-hour crisis support service or try their crisis support chat service
- MensLine Australia or phone 1300 789 978 for a free 24-hour telephone counselling service
- Relationships Australia or phone 1300 364 277 to arrange a face-to-face meeting
5. Preparing for your future
If your partner's name was used in your policies for superannuation, insurance or health, or in your will, then you will need to update these documents. Contact Us at Southern Advisory to work through your situation and plan for your future.