The loss of a loved one is devastating, whether it comes as a bolt from the blue or after prolonged illness. We understand how the emotional impact makes it hard for those left behind to deal with the practical things - the changes, financial and legal issues that can result.
The pain of grieving makes it difficult to focus on anything else. You feel numbness, shock and disbelief that the loved one has gone; reality seems changed. Sometimes there are frightening physical effects, like panic attacks or tightening in the throat or chest. It's a time of depression, anxiety, anger and guilt, mixed sometimes with feelings of hopeless or of not being to go on. There can be regrets - perhaps an unresolved disagreement, a secret, or things said or not said.
It's a very tough time in anyone's life.
In this period, you need time alone to grieve but don't be too isolated - even if it's hard try to spend some time each day with friends or family, or talk to your GP or other professionals (click on this link for more help).
As you read this section, please know that we can help support you through these practicalities if you'd like us to.
While you feel the first raw emotions it is not a time for decisions. But as they reduce, new ones such as loneliness and anxiety about finances or a changed future can start to increase and sometimes the practical issues force you to think about looking at the options.
Loss often results in income reduction. This can be temporary as often there's paperwork to do to release funds but commonly there are longer-term changes in pensions or allowances. During this time it is sometimes difficult to cover unexpected bills or extras, or even to meet day-to-day expenses.
If your home still has a mortgage on it, mortgage payments must continue to be made. If there is little cash, you may be struggling.
After bereavement, people often think about where they live. You might prefer to stay in your home that's familiar and close to friends. On the other hand you may be finding it painfully full of memories, or too far from the rest of the family, or too much to manage.
If a house is left to other heirs there can be additional complications. Co-ordinating "sorting and clearing" sessions between several family members can be hard, especially where distance is involved. Household bills, including utilities, insurance and council tax will continue to be payable, although most councils will allow a six-month council tax exemption. Any mortgage usually needs to be paid until the house is sold. Sometimes, a house may need to be sold as soon as possible to reduce these costs, cover bills and the funeral costs.
If a deceased person was older, or there was prolonged illness or ill-health, the house may not be in an easily saleable state. It can need clearance and cleaning, repairs or updating and the garden, fencing or outbuildings often need attention.
Where a property is left empty, it is potentially at risk from elements such as wind or water, and from break-in, squatters and malicious damage. Many insurance companies will be reluctant to insure, or limit the insurance if a property is empty for longer than a month.
How we can help
We understand your situation and will do everything we can to help you at this difficult time.
Firstly, what we absolutely won't to do is lead or pressurise you into any decision at a time when you are least able to make one.
Our approach is to help find a way to solve any immediate issues, to give you some breathing space. We can help with short-term cash issues and support you through the practical issues above. If there are financial pressures on you, we'll do our best to help with that, so you have time to think. Once you are able, we'll talk more about what you'd ideally like longer-term and we'll come up with some options, matched to what you need. As a group, we can normally find several possibilities, some of which probably won't have occurred to you. You may want to stay in your home - if so, we'll do our best to find the way. Or if you prefer to move - we'll give you as much support as you want us to, and work to your timescales - weeks, months or longer. We will explain everything carefully and we'll encourage you to take the time to talk to your friends and family, so you are sure you are making the right choices.
On the other hand, if you know that you want to sell quickly (often the case when a property is left to family members living elsewhere), we can get things moving fast and you'll have cash in your account in a few weeks. You might also decide on our 'Easy Walkaway' option - just take the things you want and leave the rest to us to sort out. Or, if time isn't important and you want the best possible price, we'll make that our aim too. In every case, we can pay all legal and other fees related to the sale.
No matter what your situation is, we are here to help and will work to your individual needs.
These organisations provide further information and support about bereavement:
0800 634 9494
Supports bereaved people on a range of practical issues via a single freephone number.
Child Bereavement UK
Supports families and provides training to professionals both when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement.
Child death support helpline
0800 282 986
Helpline for anyone affected by the death of a child of any age, from prebirth to adult, under any circumstances, however recently or long ago.
National association of widows
Offers support, comfort and advice for widows and widowers.
Information on bereavement.
Royal college of psychiatrists
Information on bereavement.
Survivors of bereavement by suicide
0844 561 6855
A self-help, voluntary organisation which aims to meet the needs and break the isolation of those bereaved by the suicide of a close relative or friend.