Newly widowed – getting organised

Paperwork and finances 

  • Make contact as soon as possible with your partner's superannuation and life insurance (if it is held). This will ensure funds are available as quickly as possible. Some superannuation funds can include a death benefit, so check this also (including waiting periods to qualify for suicide deaths). 
  • The first time you go to a Justice of the Peace or a solicitor to have the death certificate certified, take a bunch of copies with you. Also consider taking copies of your marriage certificate, licence (both yours and theirs), your partners birth certificate and will. It will save you return trips, as many organisations such as banks, phone companies, etc, will ask for a copy.
  • Compile a list of people and organisations who need to be notified. Going through your filing cabinet and adding to the list as mail arrives is helpful. This may be something you can delegate.
  • Pay your bills. It’s so easy to forget, but with so many organisations now charging late fees, paying on time is important. Again this may be something you could delegate to a trusted person or set up automated payments.
  • If you find that you're having trouble paying bills, it is worth contacting your banks, telcos and other businesses asking for 'hardship support'. Many banks will offer  relief such as significant concessions or payment delays if they are made aware of any issues as soon as possible.

Delegate

  • Delegate, delegate, delegate. Everything and anything you can.
  • Keep a list of things that need to be done – this can help with delegation.
  • If you can, have someone help you with the paperwork and forms that require completion. Even if it is only to compile a list of those companies that need to be contacted. It is an overwhelming task and any help is beneficial.
  • You will likely be told continually “let me know if there’s anything I can do.” You will know there is a lot that needs to be done, but not be able to respond in that moment. Consider appointing someone as the go-to person when you are told this. Lawns need to be mowed, food needs to be prepared, the kids need to be cared for. People want to help.