Help after the death of a partner
What you need to do and what help you can get after the death of your husband, wife or civil partner.
You can also get advice if you were living together but not married or in a civil partnership.
Coping with the death of a partner
If you want to speak to someone
There are several groups that can offer you counselling or emotional support after the death of your partner:
Find out more about bereavement support.
What you need to do in the first week
Registering your partner's death
You don't need to deal with everything straight away, but you will need to register your partner's death.
You must register a death in Scotland within 8 days of the date of death.
Help with funeral costs
If you're on a low income, or your partner was claiming benefits, you can get help with funeral costs.
If your partner had a bank account and it wasn't a joint account, the bank may be able to pay for the funeral with money from your partner's account.
- Get help with funeral costs – Money Advice Service
Understanding your rights
If there's a will
An executor will be named in your partner's will. It is an executor's job to sort out someone's finances after they've died.
- What an executor does – gov.scot
Anyone aged 18 or over can be named an executor, including you, your partner's parent or your partner's solicitor.
If there isn't a will
Your partner's finances go into intestacy if there isn't a will. If your partner did not have large savings or own a lot of property, and you were married or in a civil partnership, anything they had will usually become yours.
- Who inherits if someone dies without a will – gov.scot
How to claim your partner's money
If you're dealing with your partner's finances you will need to apply for confirmation before you can take over any bank accounts they held on their own.
- Get help with confirmation – Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service
- How to apply for confirmation – Bereavement Advice Service
Confirmation happens when a court confirms you are the person dealing with the finances of someone who has died.
Deal with your partner's debts
Any debts your partner had will be taken from the value of anything they owned when they died, including their share of joint bank accounts.
- What you can do about debt after the death of a partner – Money Helper
- Dealing with debt after someone's died – Stepchange Debt Charity
- Get help to deal with debt – Citizens Advice Scotland
You won't need to pay your partner's debt with your own money unless the debt was also in your name.
If you weren't married or in a civil partnership
You don't have automatic rights to your partner's money or belongings if your partner has died and there is no will.
Get help with living costs
If you were 45 or over but under state pension age when your partner died you can apply for Bereavement Support Payment.
- How to apply for Bereavement Support Payment – GOV.UK
- Whatever age you are, you can apply for Widowed Parent's Allowance if you have children.
- How to apply for the Widowed Parent's Allowance – GOV.UK
Find out more about bereavement benefits and help with money.
Get help with your partner's bills, tax and benefits
You can use the 'Tell Us Once' service to deal with things like tax and cancelling your partner's benefits. It will also cancel their passport and driving licence.
- How to use the 'Tell Us Once' service and what it covers – GOV.UK
- If your partner paid any bills that were only in their name you'll need to check whether you need to continue paying them.
- Managing your finances after your partner dies – Money Helper
You can also contact Social Security Scotland to find out if there are any benefits that might help you.
Keeping your home
If you rented with your partner
You have a right to stay in your home if your name is on your home's lease. If not, you need to speak to your landlord.
- How to check whose name is on the lease and what to do – Shelter Scotland
- If you get behind with rent payments after the death of your partner you should talk with your landlord.
- Read about what to do if you can't pay your rent
- Dealing with rent arrears – Shelter Scotland
If you had a mortgage with your partner
The type of mortgage you have can affect what happens to your partner's share of your home. You need to check the title deeds if you're not sure, which are usually held by your bank.
Checking the title deeds – Shelter Scotland
You can also get advice if you get behind with your mortgage payments.
- Get advice if you're having trouble paying a mortgage – Money Advice Service
- Read our guide for home owners with mortgage difficulties
Get home owner help from the Scottish Government
An independent money advisor can help you apply to the Home Owners' Support Fund, run by the Scottish Government to help you stay in your home by:
- buying up to 30% of your home, reducing your mortgage repayments; or
- buying your home, allowing you to become a tenant
To find out if you're eligible for the Home Owners' Support Fund and to apply, you must visit an approved money adviser.
Get legal help
If you need legal advice about mortgage difficulties, going to court or repossession, you might be eligible for legal aid.
Find out more about legal aid and how to apply.
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