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