Death and money are two of the most difficult subjects to talk about. Both are often loaded with all sorts of emotions.
But having a conversation with your partner and family about them is important because losing someone – especially a spouse or partner - can have a huge impact on your finances for months or even years to come if you’re not prepared for it. It could mean having to adapt to a lower income, having to rely on savings to get by or even falling into debt.
Planning ahead for that worst-case scenario won’t make it happen but it will lessen the financial impact and make things just that little bit easier for those you leave behind.
How to start the conversation
Dying Matters, an organisation whose mission it is to help people talk more openly about dying, death and bereavement, and to make plans for the end of life, has the following advice:
- Choose the right place and time.
- Avoid talking to someone when they’re rushed or in a stressful situation. Look for opportunities to broach the subject such as when you’re discussing the future or perhaps following the death of someone close to you.
- Consider beginning the conversation with a question such as, “Have you ever wondered what would happen…?”; “Do you think we should talk about…?”. Or try something direct but reassuring such as, “I know that talking about these things is never easy…” or “We’ve never talked about this before but…”.
What to talk about
Of course, it’s up to you how broad you make the conversation. But here are some things you might like to discuss.
- How would you manage financially? What impact would it have on your household income and your expenses?
- Do you know who would get what if one of you dies?
- Would you be able to afford to pay for a funeral?
- Do you both know where all the important documents such as wills, bank details, insurance policies and so on are kept?
- Would you know how to manage the day-to-day finances? If not, how could you start to learn about them now?
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