It’s not easy to think about losing your partner, but it’s vital if you’re going to be financially prepared for the loss.

Seven in 10 people who have lost a partner in the past five years have found they were financially or practically unprepared, new research has revealed.

Insurance firm Royal London spoke to 500 people who had experienced bereavement in the past five years as part of its ‘Losing a partner’ report.

It found that only 11% felt they had been both financially and practically prepared when they lost a partner.

We never really stop grieving for someone we loved who has died, but that doesn’t mean we should have to suffer the financial consequences for years as well

Claire Henry, chief executive, The National Council for Palliative Care
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Two in five (41%) had made a will and nearly a third (30%) said they had talked about their funeral with their partner.

A quarter (25%) had discussed the prospect of their partner dying, but very few had taken any practical steps or actions.

One person interviewed for the report, who had recently been bereaved, said: “It would have been really useful if there had been a list of phone numbers to use, or knowing what [my partner] wanted”.

Another respondent encouraged couples to “try and put things in order” as “it won’t do you any good… if your [partner] did it all and you’re left.”

One in five (22%) of those recently bereaved said the financial impact of lower income was the most difficult to deal with while 18% said they did not know what to do about the funeral.

16% found it challenging to look after the house following the death of their partner, 34% said it was difficult to cook and 37% struggled with the washing and ironing.

Getting plans in place means you might not have to suffer financial consequences of your partner's death for years. Image by Lisa S./

Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London, said: “The first-hand experiences of bereaved families make powerful reading.

“Whilst nothing can prepare you for the loss of a loved one, families who have experienced a loss are clear that there are things they wish they had done to ease the practical and financial consequences of bereavement.

“There are steps that we can all take now that would make life easier for our loved ones after we have gone.”

Claire Henry, chief executive at The National Council for Palliative Care and the Dying Matters coalition, said: “We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about death, but this report makes clear that putting clear financial plans in place is essential as well.”

She said having the ‘big conversation’ is important but is only the first step in getting a plan in place. 

“We never really stop grieving for someone we loved who has died, but that doesn’t mean we should have to suffer the financial consequences for years as well. 

“Financial and practical planning is as important as thinking about the care we want to receive, making a will, lasting power of attorney, or our funeral plans.

“Talking about death won’t make it happen, and getting our plans in place enables us to get on with living.”