Managing money at the end of life

As you near the end of your life, you or your family may have concerns about your finances. Financial help is often available and this can sometimes be accessed at short notice.

Financial help at the end of life

As you near the end of your life, you or your family, friends or carers may have concerns about:

  • income
  • additional costs
  • managing your finances.

Our financial guides can help with money worries. They can give personalised support and guidance to help you:

  • plan your budget
  • manage your money
  • understand your personal finance options.

To talk to a financial guide, call us for free on 0808 808 0000 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 5pm) or chat online.

Financial help is often available. You can sometimes access it at short notice. Some types of financial help do not depend on your income or the money you have.

It is likely you will be able to get benefits in the last months of your life to help with your care. You may also be able to get free prescriptions. Some charities and other organisations offer grants to help with costs.


Most people who need care towards the end of their lives qualify for disability benefits. These include:

These benefits are not means-tested. This means the amount of money you have does not affect whether you can get the benefit.

You may also be able to apply for:

Our welfare rights advisers can give you advice about claiming benefits and help you fill in claim forms. To talk to a welfare rights adviser, call us on 0808 808 00 00 or chat online. Depending on where you live, you may also be able to talk to a local Macmillan benefit advice service.

You can also get more information and apply for certain benefits by visiting:

Terminal illness (special rules)

If you are terminally ill, you can apply for some benefits using a fast-track process called special rules. The rules are different depending on where you live in the UK and which benefit you are applying for. You can apply for special rules if your doctor or cancer nurse complete a form saying you have a terminal illness.

Special rules can be used for:

If you apply for benefits under special rules, you can avoid extra assessments. You are automatically paid the higher rate, except for the mobility component of PIP and DLA. You must still apply for that, but the process may be quicker.

You must claim the benefit and explain that you are claiming under special rules. Your doctor or cancer nurse must also fill out:

  • an SR1 form – if you are claiming UC or ESA
  • a DS1500 form – if you are claiming PIP, DLA or AA
  • a BASRiS form – if you live in Scotland and are claiming Adult Disability Payment or Child Disability Payment.

The form will then be sent to:

  • the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) in England and Wales
  • Social Security Scotland in Scotland
  • the Department for Communities (DfC) in Northern Ireland.

If you get benefits under special rules, you usually have them for a period of 3 years. They will be looked at again after this time if you live longer than originally expected. In Scotland, there is no time limit for getting Adult Disability Payment or Child Disability Payment under special rules.

Our welfare rights advisers can give you advice about claiming benefits under special rules. To talk to a welfare rights adviser, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 or chat online. Depending on where you live, you may be able to talk to a local Macmillan benefit advice service.


Macmillan grants

Macmillan Grants are small, one-off payments to help people with the extra costs that cancer can cause. They are for people who have a low level of income and savings.

You can find out more by calling our Welfare Rights team on 0808 808 00 00.

You can also apply through a health or social care professional. This may be a social worker, a district nurse, a benefits adviser, or a Macmillan nurse, if you have one.

Other grants

There may be other grants and loans available if you need financial help. These might include help from:

  • government and local councils
  • utility companies (gas, electricity and water companies)
  • charities and other organisations.

Call our welfare rights advisers for more information about finding this type of financial help on 0808 808 00 00.

Turn2us helps people find specific charities that may be able to offer financial help. They have a grants search tool on their website and offer some grants themselves.

Your local library may have books about organisations that offer grants. This may include A guide to grants for individuals in need, published by the Directory of Social Change.


The help you can get for prescriptions is different across the UK.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, prescriptions are free for everyone.

In England, prescriptions are free for anything related to cancer or its effects. You need to collect an FP92A form from your GP surgery and apply for a medical exemption certificate.

An exemption certificate lasts for 5 years and can be renewed if you are still eligible. Once you have the exemption certificate, you do not need to pay for any prescriptions. This includes prescriptions for medicines that are not related to your cancer treatment. You will need to show the exemption certificate to the pharmacist when you collect your medicines.

In England, if you are a carer, or someone who is not having cancer-related treatment, you can get help to pay for prescriptions in some situations. To find out more, visit the NHS website.

Other financial things to think about

There may be other things to sort out, such as bank accounts and pensions.

Bank accounts

When you die, someone will need to tell your bank you have died. This will usually be the person you have named in your will as your executor. If you have not made a will, it will usually be your next of kin.

Your bank accounts will be frozen when you die. This means money can only be taken out if the executor transfers it.

If you have a joint bank account with another person, such as a partner, what happens depends on where you live in the UK:

  • In England, Wales or Northern Ireland – any money left in the account belongs to the other person. It is not included as part of your estate.
  • In Scotland – any money you put into the joint account still belongs to you when you die. It becomes part of your estate.

Help with housing costs if you are terminally ill

If there is a chance your illness may get worse, it can help to plan ahead.

If you are terminally ill or cannot return to work, you may be able to take ill-health retirement. This means you can start claiming a private or work-related pension early. This may be called an occupational pension.

If you are not retiring, you may still be able to use your pension to help pay your mortgage.

Since April 2015, you can take your private pension savings as lump sums if you are aged 55 or over and have a defined contribution pension.

The payment will depend on which type of private pension you have. You can do this whether you are retiring, reducing your work hours or continuing to work as normal.

In rare cases, if you have a private or workplace pension, the age limit of 55 may not apply. For example, this may be possible if you are in poor health. Ask your pension provider for details.

You can usually take up to 25% of the amount built up in your pension without needing to pay tax on it. This depends on what type of pension you have. This can be taken as 1 lump sum, or as several over a period of time. Tax is taken off the remaining 75% before you get it. If you take this money from your pension now, you will have less income when you retire. You should think carefully before using your pension in this way.

Terminal illness and pension (special rules)

If you have a serious illness that means you are expected to live for less than 12 months, special tax rules apply. You may be able to take out your whole pension savings in a tax-free lump sum if you meet all of these conditions:

  • You are expected to live for less than 12 months because of serious illness.
  • You are under the age of 75. If you are over 75, you must pay income tax on the lump sum.
  • You do not have more than the lifetime allowance of £1,073,100 in pension savings.

It is important to check the terms of your pension with your provider. Some pensions may also provide a pension to a husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner. You need to decide whether you would prefer a cash lump sum or a regular income.

You can call our financial guides on 0808 808 00 00 to find out more about your options.

What happens to your home if you need long-term care

If you go into a care home or hospice and have someone living with you, they can stay in your home if they are:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner
  • someone who relies on you for support or income, such as a child or an adult with care needs (a dependant).

If your savings are below a certain amount, your local council or Health and Social Care Trust may help with the cost of your care. The amount of savings you can have depends on where you live. How much your council or trust will pay depends on your care needs and the amount you can afford to pay towards them.

If you do not live with anyone, you can give legal permission in advance for a family member, partner or carer to rent out your property for you. You can also allow them to arrange the sale of your home. The money can be used to cover your long-term care fees. This is called arranging a power of attorney. It can be temporary or permanent. We have more information about power of attorney England and Wale and Scotland.

Your local council or trust may agree to lend you the money for the care home fees. It would be repaid once your home has been sold. This is called a deferred payment agreement.

We have more information about planning head including writing a will, your wishes for future care, decisions about treatment, and power of attorney.

Pension schemes

You can choose someone to be your beneficiary. This means that whatever is left in your pension when you die may pass directly to them. You do this by filling in a legal nomination form provided by your pension scheme. This may depend on the terms and conditions of your scheme.

Make sure your pension provider has up-to-date details of your beneficiary. If you have more than one pension, tell all your providers.

If someone is trying to control your finances

Cancer and domestic abuse

It is not okay if someone close to you is controlling your finances without your permission. They could be making financial decisions against your wishes, or pressuring you to make decisions. This could be a sign that you are experiencing domestic abuse. We have information on support available.

About our information

  • References

    Below is a sample of the sources used in our advanced cancer information. If you would like more information about the sources we use, please contact us at

    Health Improvement Scotland/ NHS Scotland. Scottish Palliative Care Guidelines. Available from [accessed Nov 2021].

    NICE. Care of dying adults in the last days of life. NICE guideline NG31 [Internet]. 2015. Available from [accessed Nov 2021].

    NICE. End of life care for adults: service delivery. NICE guideline NG142 [Internet]. 2019. Available from [accessed Nov 2021].

    NICE. Improving supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer. Cancer service guideline CSG4 [Internet]. 2004. Available from [accessed Nov 2021].

  • Reviewers

    This information has been written, revised and edited by Macmillan Cancer Support’s Cancer Information Development team. It has been reviewed by expert medical and health professionals and people living with cancer. It has been approved by Senior Medical Editor, Dr Viv Lucas, Consultant in Palliative Medicine.

    Our cancer information has been awarded the PIF TICK. Created by the Patient Information Forum, this quality mark shows we meet PIF’s 10 criteria for trustworthy health information.

The language we use

We want everyone affected by cancer to feel our information is written for them.

We want our information to be as clear as possible. To do this, we try to:

  • use plain English
  • explain medical words
  • use short sentences
  • use illustrations to explain text
  • structure the information clearly
  • make sure important points are clear.

We use gender-inclusive language and talk to our readers as ‘you’ so that everyone feels included. Where clinically necessary we use the terms ‘men’ and ‘women’ or ‘male’ and ‘female’. For example, we do so when talking about parts of the body or mentioning statistics or research about who is affected.

You can read more about how we produce our information here.

Date reviewed

Reviewed: 01 September 2022
Next review: 01 September 2025
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum
Trusted Information Creator - Patient Information Forum

Our cancer information meets the PIF TICK quality mark.

This means it is easy to use, up-to-date and based on the latest evidence. Learn more about how we produce our information.

How we can help

Macmillan Grants

If you have cancer, you may be able to get a Macmillan Grant to help with the extra costs of cancer. Find out who can apply and how to access our grants.

Financial guidance
Financial issues can cause worry when someone becomes ill. You may be able to claim benefits to help you in your situation. You may also be able to get financial assistance from other organisations.
Welfare rights advice and tools

There are lots of benefits that could help you after a cancer diagnosis, but the system can be confusing. Our Welfare Rights Advisors are here to help.