Benefits, work and money

When a spouse or civil partner dies, it may impact your financial situation in a number of ways.

You will need to contact the government to notify them of the death. This may mean that they stop certain benefits which you become ineligible for, but you may become eligible for additional financial government support to assist you during this time. There may also be an insurance payment or compensation available to you.

Benefits

After the death of a loved one you will need to contact the government so that any benefits that the deceased was receiving, or any benefits you were receiving as a carer, are stopped or re-calculated.

In England and Wales, you can do this by contacting the government’s “Tell Us Once” service either online or by telephone on 0800 085 7308. This service isn’t available in all areas yet and so you may need to contact the DWP Bereavement Service on 0345 606 0265 instead.

Guardian’s Allowance

If you are bringing up someone else’s child following the death of their parent, you may be eligible for Guardian’s Allowance in addition to Child Benefit. You should contact the Guardian Allowance Unit to find out how to claim on 0300 200 3101.

Funeral Expenses Payment

If you or your partner is in receipt of qualifying benefits, you may be eligible for a Funeral Expenses Payment from the Department of Work and Pension to assist you in covering the cost of some of the funeral for a loved one.

You or your partner needs to be in receipt of certain benefits, which includes Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit or Pension Guarantee Credit.  You can apply for the Payment within 6 months of the funeral, or prior to the funeral if you have an invoice (not quote) from a funeral director. You can claim for the payment by phone to the Bereavement Service Helpline on 0200 731 0469

Death in Service or Life Insurance

Your loved one may have had access to a ‘death in service’ benefit with their employer or may have taken out life insurance.

A death in service benefit is provided by some employers and will often pay out a lump sum if someone dies whilst in employment, even if the death is entirely unrelated to the employment itself. It may be linked to the company’s pension or the individual’s salary. You should contact the individual employer to check whether any benefit is owed to a family member or the person’s estate. Often the person will have nominated someone to benefit from the scheme or it may go to a trust who then decides who the payment will be made to.

Alternatively, or in addition, the deceased may have had life insurance (either attached to a mortgage or separately). If you know they had a policy, but cannot find the policy documents or are unsure which insurance provider to contact, you should first check their bank statements for regular payments to insurers or an insurance broker.

It is sensible to notify the insurers of the death as soon as possible and to provide them with the death certificate so that they can begin to process any claim.

Bereavement Support Payment

The Bereavement Support Payment comprises an initial lump sum with further support payments over 18 months. It is payable to those under state pension age (which depends on the year you were born and which you can check on the government website whose partner paid National Insurance contributions for 25 weeks within a tax year (the Department for Work and Pensions will check this for you when you apply for the payment).

If your partner died because of an accident at work then the eligibility criteria is more relaxed;  they only required that you are under the state pension age.

The amount you could receive will depend on whether or not you have children and how soon after the death you apply. You should apply within 3 months of the death to receive the full amount you are eligible for.

If you are getting Bereavement Support Payment it will not affect your other benefits for a year. After that, some means-tested benefits will be re-assessed.

You can find out more about this support from the government website where you will need to download a form, or you can phone or visit your local Jobcentre Plus.

If you were bereaved before 6 April 2017, there are different benefits – Bereavement Allowance and / or Widowed Parent’s Allowance – that are available instead of the Bereavement Support Payment.  More information is available from the UK Government website.

Time off work

You may need to take time off work following the death of a loved one, whether to take time to grieve, to care for family members and/or to organise or attend a funeral or cremation. Your employer may have a Staff Handbook or Leave Policy that states whether they provide paid compassionate leave for bereaved employees and how many days they allow. Alternatively, you may be able to discuss with your employer whether you can take unpaid leave or annual leave during this time.

In 2018, the UK Government passed a law that will give parents of a child under 18 who has died, or parents who have suffered a stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, a right to two weeks’ paid leave. It is hoped this will come into force in 2020.

Compensation

Compensation may be available in certain circumstances, such as where the death occurred as a result of substandard care or other negligence.

The specific amount payable varies from case to case but can be significant, This can include money for the funeral expenses, loss of income and additional expenses which arise as a result of their death. Please see here for more information.

Charities and other funds

In addition to the above, certain charities may be able to assist with financial hardship after a loved one dies. Please see our resources page for more information.

Contact us Please contact our specialist team of solicitors if you have any further questions.