Death of a Breadwinner

Losing a loved one is an unfortunate event. More often than not, we find ourselves unprepared when it happens.

As we grieve the loss, it is only natural that we want to give our loved one a fitting send-off. A simple and respectful wake and funeral can be just as meaningful to express our sorrow or pay our respects. This will help us deal emotionally with the parting.

Coping with the loss

If it is the death of the family breadwinner, confronting a sudden cut in the main source of household income may seem overwhelming when you are coping with the loss emotionally. There may be some financial matters to attend to quickly.

Here are some suggestions to help you:

  • Start by readjusting your budget and expenditure to adapt to the change in finances at home. Review your current lifestyle and financial goals and be prepared to lower some expectations. Now is the time to tap on your emergency savings to tide you over this difficult period.
  • If your loved one left behind a Will, contact the executors to ensure the smooth distribution of the estate to you and your family members. You may need to formally transfer any assets and current investments to your own name. Contact the banks to retrieve the cash from his or her personal, or joint, bank accounts. If you are the appointed nominee to his or her CPF savings, the CPF Board (CPFB) will get in touch with you.
  • Consolidate his or her insurance policies and confirm if there are payments in the event of death, and who the nominees to the policies are. Make a claim to the insurance companies. If your loved one was insured under Dependants’ Protection Scheme (DPS), you can contact his or her insurer (either Great Eastern Life or NTUC Income) to submit a claim application. The insurance companies will advise you on the claim procedures and any additional information that they may need. Be aware of any time limits to making a death claim; you should report a claim as soon as possible to prevent delay or complicated processes. If the claim is approved, the insurance companies will make payment to you in a lump sum, up to the sum assured. If your loved one was insured under the Home Protection Scheme (HPS) and has an outstanding housing loan, CPFB will get in touch with the family members on the claim procedure.
  • If there are any outstanding loans or debts, contact the lenders immediately and see what needs to be done.
  • If you have been left some money and assets or received some benefit from the insurance payment, you will probably be wondering how to manage your money. While it may seem like a large sum of money, it is important to remember that the money is to pay for both the family’s everyday needs and long-term needs. You may need to support your elderly parents (your spouse's and your own), pay for your children’s education and settle any outstanding debts. You have an important role in making the money last long enough to meet future needs.
  • Seek help if you need to plan your finances ahead. Think carefully about your needs and circumstances. If you cannot afford to lose any of the money you have, you should not take unnecessary risks - aim for low risk or conservative investments. While these come with lower returns, the risk of losing your capital through higher return products could put your family at risk. Bear in mind that all investment products, including insurance policies like investment-linked products (ILPs) and endowment policies, do carry a certain degree of risk.

Government assistance:

Some of us may not have existing savings or assets to rely on. If you need more help and assistance to get by, here are some government initiatives to aid you:

  • Employment Assistance
    The Career Centres run by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) offer free assistance to provide training opportunities and job-matching services to help you find suitable jobs.
  • ComCare
    ComCare provides social assistance to low-income individuals and families. Depending on your needs and eligibility, you may receive financial and other forms of assistance, and may be linked up to other local community organizations for further help. Further information on ComCare can be found at the Ministry of Social and Family Development’s website.

If you need help, you can call ComCare Call at 1800-222-0000 or go to a Social Service Office, Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC) or a Family Service Centre (FSC) near you.

The above information is prepared by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in collaboration with the Central Provident Fund Board, Ministry of Social and Family Development, Singapore Workforce Development Agency and Life Insurance Association Singapore.