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Losing your partner

Coping financially after the loss of your partner

Page reading time: 4 minutes

Losing your partner is a difficult time, with a lot to organise and think about. But there are things you can do and plans you can make to help you get through.

Arranging the funeral

As a first step, check if your partner has left instructions about what they want for their funeral. These are usually part of a will.

This might include their preference for burial or cremation, and the type of funeral service.

Funeral costs

The costs of a funeral can vary greatly — anywhere from $5,000 up. While you may feel pressure to choose 'top of the range', try to stick to an affordable amount. That way you won't go into debt.

It's worth getting a few quotes from different companies. If you don’t feel up to calling around, ask friends or family to do it for you.

Many funeral companies belong to the same parent company. When comparing quotes, make sure you're dealing with different parent companies.

Getting help with funeral costs

Your partner’s money

Contact your partner's bank to notify them. They'll advise you of what steps you need to take.

The bank may release money from your partner's account to help pay for funeral expenses. This happens before probate is granted — that is, before the court validates the will.

If you had a joint bank account, all the money will transfer to you.

Prepaid arrangements

If you're unsure if your partner prepaid for their funeral, ask your solicitor or the executor of your partner's estate.

If they have prepaid, check the arrangements for paying out the money. Some funds contribute directly to the cost of the funeral, with the amount depending on the agreement. Others pay the money into the deceased estate, and allow the executor to make the funeral arrangements.

Pay in instalments

Ask the funeral company if you can pay them in instalments to make costs more manageable.

Centrelink payments

You may be eligible for a bereavement payment through Centrelink. This may be a lump sum or a short-term payment. See bereavement payment on the Services Australia website.

Centrelink also has counselling and other services to help people adjust after someone close to them has died. Visit what to do following a death.

Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA)

If your partner was receiving a pension from DVA, you may be eligible for a one-off, non-taxable payment. See bereavement assistance on the DVA website.

Working out the will

Your partner may have left a will setting out what they wanted to happen to their estate (personal assets).

If no will is found, there's a law that sets the order in which relatives may inherit from the estate.

You or someone else may be executor of the will. This person is responsible for making sure your partner's assets are shared according to the will.

For more information, see wills and powers of attorney.

Work out where you stand financially

When you're ready, start looking at your new financial situation. It's a good idea to get a clear picture of what you now own and owe.

Use the net worth calculator to work out if your total assets outweigh your debts.

Take the next financial step

After the loss of your partner, your income might change. Another change might be that your household finances (including bills and insurance costs) now become your sole responsibility.

Get a death certificate

The funeral director will usually apply for a death certificate for you, when they register your partner’s death. You can use this as proof of death when transferring or cancelling services.

Check your entitlements

Insurance and super

If your partner had life cover through an insurance or super fund, contact the fund to find out how to claim.

If your partner nominated you as a beneficiary of their super, ask the fund how to access this. For more information, see super death benefits on the Australian Taxation Office website.

The Financial Services Council can help you find lost life insurance policies

Unclaimed money

Use our unclaimed money search to check if your partner was owed any money. This could be from bank accounts, shares, investments, super, or life insurance policies.

Cancel or transfer services

Contact providers to transfer services into your name or cancel any you no longer need. For example:

The Australian Death Notification Service lets you notify multiple agencies at once online.

Before making changes, service providers may ask you for a copy of the death certificate and proof of your identity.

Update your budget

Review your budget to help you manage your new financial situation, especially if your income has changed.

Get help with your finances

If you're struggling with how to manage your money, a financial counsellor can help. They can help you to review your budget and your debts, and to find ways to improve your situation.

Look after yourself

If you're struggling emotionally during this time, help is available. Contact one of these free and confidential services.

Crisis support

13 11 14

24 hours

online Crisis Support Chat

Counselling and support programs

Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement

1800 642 066

Business hours

Depression, anxiety and grief support

Beyond Blue

1300 22 46 36

24 hours

Beyond Blue's web chat (3pm to 12am)

Social work and counselling services for
Centrelink customers

Services Australia

13 17 94

Business hours