My husband has died, can I stay in my beloved home?

25th September 2015

Bereavement is a very sad time; emotions are often difficult to manage but grief is one of the worst. I met a client recently who has put this fact into sharp focus for me again.

My client, Marie, who is 80, recently lost her husband. He had capably managed their finances in such a way that she did not need to worry. Now she has found herself overwhelmed with matters that she does not understand along with the sometimes crippling emotions resulting from her loss.

I was asked to assist by the family lawyers who felt that Marie needed some immediate input to help her understand her situation and make some of the decisions that are required of the Executors of an estate.

The help I provided came in several stages but the first step required an understanding of where she is today.

I analysed her expected income by establishing details of the future income she will receive from her late husband’s NHS pension and her State pension.

I then looked carefully at what money she would need to spend to be able to stay in the family home, which is one of her priorities, and to maintain the lifestyle she is happy with. In addition I talked with her about the possibility that she could need looking after in future – her husband had been ill for some time before his death and she was worried about this. We agreed she wanted to be looked after at home; she would not want to move away from her lovely house and garden.

Elderly woman on the porch of her house.

I calculated that, whilst she would have sufficient income in the short term to cover all of her needs, if she was to become less able the cost of her care would need to be withdrawn from her capital.  However, after reviewing her position, I concluded that this would not cause her any long term concerns and was able to reassure her accordingly.

This first part of my work established sufficient clarity and confidence in Marie’s mind to allow her to move forward without anxiety to the next step; sorting out Derek’s estate.

This work proved complex (and will later be subject to a blog all of its own) however for most people, even those with simple affairs, the paperwork required for Probate and Inheritance Tax is particularly complex because it is so unfamiliar. The good news is that there are many experts available and I was able to work with Marie’s family lawyers to arrange for the appropriate paperwork to be completed well within the 2 year time limit.

There are many jobs to do when someone dies, however the most important of these is for the bereaved to allow themselves time and space to grieve. Achieving clarity and confidence that you will be fine once everything is done is key – for this you need financial planning.