If you’ve lost a loved one, it’s likely to be a hugely stressful time. As well as the emotional impact of grieving the loss of someone you have been close to, you may also be faced with the prospect of dealing with all their affairs.
It’s perhaps no surprise, therefore, that many bereaved people end up struggling when it comes to tackling the finances of a deceased person. A report in the Independent suggests that having to deal with financial matters sees a marked deterioration in the mental health of two in every five people.
A quarter also suffered financial difficulties as a direct result of a role that can take more than a year for one in ten estates.
As financial planners, we’re well placed to help you if you’ve lost someone close to you and you’re struggling to get to grips with their financial affairs. Here are five practical ways we can help.
Dealing with paperwork
According to the Independent, “barely half the population has financial affairs in order at the time of their death”. Trying to find account details, policies, and statements of a loved one can sometimes feel like complicated detective work.
A third of financial accounts only come to light during probate, for example, and legal professionals report that 1 in 20 cases starts with no details at all, which can lead to significant delays.
When clients work with us, we often end up having an excellent overall picture of their financial situation. This means we can help follow the paper trail. We know exactly what protection, savings, and investments a client has, and so how to deal with them once the client passes away.
Navigating the probate process
Do you know how the probate process works? If you don’t, you’re not alone. The Independent reports that a third of executors say they had no idea about how probate worked when they started. Indeed, one in seven only found out they were named as an executor after the person had died.
Considering that a survey by private service Exizent found that 88% of solicitors think probate is “slow and inefficient” and 52% admit the time it takes is unreasonable, it can also take months or even a year to navigate probate. Small wonder, therefore, that bereaved people may see their mental health decline.
We can help beneficiaries and executors through the probate process, advising and providing support when required.
Helping claim on protection policies
One of the key things we consider when building a client’s financial plan is protection. Does an individual have the right protection in place to ensure their loved ones are financially supported when they are no longer around?
In their younger years this might be to replace income or to pay off a mortgage. Later in life it might be to pay funeral costs or to deal with an Inheritance Tax bill. And there’s also the issue of trusts to consider so a client can ensure their money is passed on as they wish.
As financial planners, we can liaise with insurers to make sure that any payouts are made in a timely fashion, and in accordance with the deceased person’s instructions.
Providing advice on an inheritance
Losing a loved one is a stressful time. It’s easy to make rash or emotional decisions about what to do with an inheritance that might not be the best for you and your family in the long term.
And, receiving an inheritance often means you feel more responsibility towards the money than you perhaps otherwise would. People are often more cautious with an inheritance than they would be with a different type of windfall.
It may be the case that putting the money aside in a traditional savings account may be the best thing in the short term. This keeps your inheritance safe while you think about all your options.
Then, we can help you do what is right for you and your family. We can explain the tax implications of the inheritance – this might be ISAs, shares, property, or a range of assets – and provide you with independent, impartial advice on the best approach for you.
Coming to terms with your loss and processing your grief is hard enough without the pressure of having to make difficult and complex decisions that could affect your future. We’re here to help.
General financial support and advice
We’ve spoken before about the positive effects taking financial advice can have on your mental wellbeing. It can help you feel more in control, more confident, and less anxious about your household finances.
With two in five people suffering a deterioration in their mental health when dealing with the finances of a deceased person, talking to a financial planner can give you the reassurance that you seek.
Working with a trusted professional gives you the peace of mind that your finances, and that of your family, are in safe hands – invaluable at what could be a very difficult time.
Get in touch
If you’ve lost a loved one and would like to find out how we can help you, please get in touch. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01189 876655.