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Death of a breadwinner: How to cope financially
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3 min. read

The sudden loss of a breadwinner can be traumatic for you and your family. But there are ways to keep your finances afloat during this time. Find out what you can do here.

When a loved one leaves, it is emotionally trying — even more so if you are suddenly confronted with a sudden loss of the primary source of income in your family.

Unfortunately, you will need to attend to some financial matters even as you grieve your loss.

What you should do

Here are a few steps you can take:

1. Adjust your budget and expenditure

Review your current lifestyle and financial goals. Be prepared to lower some expectations and adapt to the change in finances at home. Now is the time to tap on your emergency savings to tide you over this difficult period.

2. Distribute the estate

If your loved one left behind a Will, you'd want to ensure smooth distribution of the estate to you and your family. You will need to:

  • Instruct the executor of the Will to proceed.
  • Formally transfer any assets and current investments to your own name.
  • Approach the banks to retrieve the cash from his or her personal, or joint, bank accounts.

If you're the appointed nominee to his or her CPF savings, the CPF Board (CPFB) will get in touch with you.

Learn more: Distribution of CPF savings upon death of a CPF member

If there is no Will, however, someone will need to apply to the courts to be appointed the administrator of the estate — he or she has legal obligations to distribute the assets according to intestacy laws.

Discuss with your family who should take up the responsibility. Then approach a lawyer to start the legal process.

3. Consolidate insurance policies

Go through all insurance policies and confirm if there are payments in the event of death, and who the beneficiaries to the policies are. Make a claim to the insurance companies.

If your loved one was insured under the Dependants’ Protection Scheme (DPS), you could 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.


There's a time limit to making a death claim. You should report a claim as soon as possible to prevent delay or complicating 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 you on the claim procedure.

4. Check for outstanding loans

If there are any outstanding loans or debts, contact the lenders immediately and see what needs to be done.

5. Make your money last longer

If you have been left some money, assets, or received some benefit from the insurance payment, you may not know how to manage them.

It may seem like a large sum of money, but remember that it's meant to pay for the family’s everyday 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 outstanding debts.

You have an important role in making the money last long enough to meet future needs. So plan ahead and seek professional help with your finances if you need to.

Getting help

Some of us may not have existing savings or assets to rely on. If you need help, you can approach the following organisations:

Workforce Singapore

Workforce Singapore's career matching services can assist you in needs assessment, career profiling, training opportunities and job-matching to help you find suitable jobs.


ComCare provides social assistance to low-income individuals and families. Depending on your needs and eligibility, you may receive short- to medium-term help or fee subsidies for children from low-income families who are placed in childcare, kindergarten or student care centres.

If you need help, you can contact ComCare or go to the Community Development Council (CDC), Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CCC) or a Family Service Centre (FSC) near you.

Last updated on 05 May 2022