Stephanie Hawthorne talks us through fi­nan­cial mat­ters

Stephanie Hawthorne talks us through what to do if your cir­cum­stances change un­ex­pect­edly.

The People's Friend - - This Week -

NOT even the best things in life last for ever. Many peo­ple in later life might find them­selves on their own if death or di­vorce ends their mar­riage.

While a new life can open up all sorts of ex­cit­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties, from tak­ing up a new hobby to meeting some­one spe­cial, it’s wise to be pre­pared to face any even­tu­al­ity.

On the death of a loved one, you will ini­tially be very busy.

You must get a med­i­cal cer­tifi­cate from the GP or hospi­tal doc­tor, and then reg­is­ter the death within five days (eight days in Scot­land).

In most ar­eas, the reg­is­trar can point you to­wards Tell Us Once, an in­valu­able ser­vice which en­ables you to re­port a death to most govern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions in one go.

Be sure to get sev­eral copies of the death cer­tifi­cate, as you will need these to send to a va­ri­ety of util­i­ties, pen­sions com­pa­nies and in­sur­ance com­pa­nies. Most peo­ple will also li­aise with a fu­neral di­rec­tor to ar­range the fu­neral.

If there is a will, the cho­sen ex­ecu­tor has to ap­ply for pro­bate. If you are an ex­ecu­tor and find this too much, you can get help from a so­lic­i­tor.

If the per­son did not leave a will, you can ap­ply to be an “ad­min­is­tra­tor” of the es­tate. The process is the same as ap­ply­ing for pro­bate.

You must es­ti­mate and re­port the es­tate’s value be­fore you ap­ply for pro­bate. There may also be in­her­i­tance tax to pay.

If you are on your own be­cause of a di­vorce or sep­a­ra­tion, feel­ings may be run­ning pretty high.

It usu­ally helps to use a lawyer, and to try not to change things dras­ti­cally at first.

It may help to keep the same bank ac­count if you can, for ex­am­ple.

One of you may have moved out, and there will be all the ex­penses of two homes to con­sider, so keep a watch­ful eye on the bud­get. Make sure your part­ner doesn’t run up huge ex­penses on a joint credit card.

Both spouses have a right to live in the mat­ri­mo­nial home, but watch out if the home is in a spouse’s own name.

If the mat­ri­mo­nial home is in your spouse’s sole name, you can pro­tect your right to live there by reg­is­ter­ing a no­tice or re­stric­tion.

You should do this im­me­di­ately if you think there is a risk that he or she may sell the home or re­mort­gage it.

Don’t for­get the pen­sion when it comes to di­vorce, as this can be one of the most valu­able as­sets of all.

Whether you are on your own through di­vorce or death, al­low your­self to mourn.

Don’t worry if it takes a while to get over it, or if you feel down. That is only nat­u­ral. But there will come a time to move on and start your new life.

It can take a while to get back on your feet. If you were mar­ried for a long time, you may have had to give up a lot of things you en­joyed do­ing with other friends, or by your­self.

Per­haps you liked go­ing to rock con­certs and your spouse only liked clas­si­cal mu­sic.

Per­haps you liked foot­ball but your spouse loathed sport.

Now you have new free­doms. Life is for liv­ing. Make the most of it. ■

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