On Being Widowed – What Are The Financial Aspects?

4 Minute Read

Tags: Aged Care, Dying

International Widows' Day draws awareness to the denial of land rights, the family home, inheritance, choice, and access to children.

On Being Widowed – What Are The Financial Aspects?
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions

23 June marks International Widows' Day[1].

Inaugurated by the United Nations in 2011, this day draws awareness to the many women who are denied inheritance, land rights, the family home, freedom of choice, and access to their children on the death of their spouse.

The purpose of the day is to empower those women by providing governments and policymakers laws and reforms which help safeguard a widow’s rights[2], in particular their equal right to property[3].


In Australia, by law, the person making the Will (the “testator”) has a moral duty to provide for the proper maintenance of their spouse or de facto partner.

This involves providing the widow (or widower) what is necessary to enjoy accommodation to the standard to which she or he is accustomed and, subject to the size of the estate, a fund to meet unforeseen contingencies. This is particularly so where the marriage or relationship has been lengthy.

A widow (or widower) has the right to contest a Will on the basis that their share of the estate does not adequately provide for their proper maintenance, education and advancement in life.

Where a partner dies without a Will (referred to as dying “intestate”), the surviving spouse or partner must seek approval from their State or Territory Supreme Court to be the executor of the estate.

An executor, is the person normally appointed under a Will to distribute the estate. They apply to the Court for a Letter of Administration to then receive a Court order (A Letter of Administration) to administer the estate.

Each State and Territory has different rules on distribution. Generally though, current spouse or partner, and the children of that relationship, will inherit with the entire estate going to the current spouse or partner unless the deceased has children from a prior relationship.

Where the deceased has children from a prior relationship, in NSW[4], the current spouse is entitled to all the personal effects, a statutory legacy of $482,000[5] (as at 2020), and half of what remains in the estate. What remains is shared equally amongst all surviving children of the deceased. Note that each State and Territory in Australia has slightly different laws.

Commonwealth Government financial support

If you received the pension or some other eligible form of Centrelink or Department of Veteran’s Affairs for 12 months or more before the death of your spouse or partner, you may be eligible to receive a Bereavement Payment[6] for up to 14 weeks after the death of your partner.

This payment replaces your usual income support payment. Bereavement Payment is usually paid as a lump sum and is usually equal to the total you and your partner would’ve received as a couple, minus your new single rate.

Formerly, there was a fortnightly Widow Allowance[7] available to women born on or before 1 July 1955 with no recent workforce experience. For eligibility, an income and assets test as well as residency requirements needed to be met. The allowance ceased on 1 January 2022 with eligible participants now receiving the Aged Pension or, if under the pension age, the JobSeeker Payment.

If you are newly widowed and require financial support contact Centrelink on 13 23 00.



Seeking care for a loved one? Please feel free to call me, Danielle Robertson, for an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance at the right time and in the right place.
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[1] United Nations: International Widows' Day
[2] UN Women Australia
[3] Articles 16 and 17 Universal Declaration of Human Rights
[4] NSW Trustee & Guardian: Dying Without a Will
[5] If the estate does not have the statutory legacy amount, the current spouse or partner is entitled to all of the estate.
[6] Australian Government Services Australia: What Help There Is When An Adult Dies
[7] Australian Government Department of Social Services: Cessation of Widow Allowance



Danielle Robertson

Danielle Robertson

Working with you and your support network to get the right care outcomes for you and your loved ones. Danielle Robertson is founder and CEO of DR Care Solutions, offering aged care and disability care concierge services and expertise on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place. Danielle's experience in the Australian care sector spans over three and a half decades. Now that's a lot of experience, wisdom and networks!