Put Your House In Order
One of the things I leave my clients with when arranging their Will is a document that provides information on the role of an executor. This is because it is not only important to be prepared yourself, but to prepare those who you want to manage your affairs in the event of your death, your “Executors” and “Loved Ones”.
You may have already been in a situation where you have lost a loved one. Or know someone who has shared with you the problems they may have faced during this difficult time of emotional stress. In the UK 60 to 70 percent of people have not made a will.
Without a Will, in place, their loved ones face an uphill struggle trying to figure out what their wishes would have been.
For example, did they have a plan for a funeral, had they made provision for this. Although it is a natural reaction not to want to think about ill health or our own demise. If we just for a moment side step this emotion think a little further forward and take a look at it from the perspective of our loved ones. We soon realise that we don’t want to make things difficult for them at a time when they could do with as little stress as possible, enabling them to celebrate your life in the way you would have wanted.
The fact is it is extremely important not to delay making crucial decisions about your future. Such as your desired care arrangements, making a will and setting up a funeral plan. If you keep putting it off you may just be too late!
Four Things To Put In Order
1. Make Your Will
A Will is the only way plan and ensure your assets, money and possessions pass to those you wish to benefit after you die. If you have no Will the laws of intestacy apply and the courts will decide where your assets go. (Intestacy or dying intestate means dying without a Will).
It’s also a good way of letting people know any wishes you have for your funeral. However, remember that funeral wishes noted within a will are not legally binding. So it is a good idea to get yourself a pre-paid funeral plan so that all the arrangements are taken care of by your chosen funeral directors.
Although you can write a will yourself it is advisable to get this done professionally by a reputable will writing company or your solicitor.
Without a Will…
- You cannot be sure those you would wish to benefit will actually do so.
- Your partner will not automatically inherit ALL of your estate.
- “Common Law” partners may not receive anything.
- Minor children could be taken into care whilst Guardians are appointed.
- There could be lengthy delays for your beneficiaries and disputes.
2. Make a funeral plan
Most people still choose the more traditional style of funerals like burial or cremation. However there is no legal requirement to have a member of the clergy at a funeral, your options are open, you could even choose to be buried in your garden if you like.
You can leave written wishes in a will regarding your funeral, however, as mentioned above you can make arrangements well in advance with the help of a pre-paid funeral plan and a funeral director. Funerals are not cheap, but most providers will allow you to pay in advance or spread the cost over as little as 12 months or as much as 5 years, planning ahead in this way ensures your family is not burdened with the expense and stress of your funeral arrangments.
3. Plan for your future care and support
It is impossible to know what will happen to us as we get older. It’s quite possible that many of us will need caring for at some stage of our life. Often people lose the capacity to make their own decisions due to ill health, if you’ve planned ahead and got yourself a lasting power of attorney in place, well done if you haven’t its something you certainly should consider.
You should talk to your loved ones and healthcare professionals. Such as your local GP about the sort of care you’d like if you become dependent or seriously ill.
Write down your plans so that those who care for you have a record of your wishes. Think about the following:-
- Do you want to appoint someone to make decisions for you, if you are unable to do so? (this is where lasting powers of attorney come into play)
- Where would you like to be cared for? In a Nursing Home, In your own Home, Hospice or Hospital, ?
- Are there any specific treatments that you would refuse?
- Is there a particular place you would like to spend your final days?
There are many ways to help you and your family finance the cost of any future care (for example in a nursing home). Charities like Age UK can provide advice, or you can talk to a financial advisor.
4. Ensure your loved ones know your plans
Before you make your final decisions in any of these areas, consider talking them through with those close to you. This can often provide you with valuable feedback and ideas and means you can begin sharing your thoughts and feelings about the future.
If you have important documents like a will, lasting power of attorney, notes about your care, inheritance or funeral plans, remember to keep them in a safe place. Consider the impact of the loss of these documents in the event of fire or theft.
There are document storage facilities at most banks or you may have a safe, wherever you store these documents, be sure to let your loved ones and executors know where they are, this ensures your wishes will be known.
National Association of Funeral Directors
National Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors
National Council for Palliative Care and NHS National End of Life Care Programme’s leaflet on Planning for Your Future Care
Financial Services Authority’s online register
Dying Matters Coalition
Mind at Rest Wills and Estate Planning
What Is Power Of Attorney?
Office of the Public Guardian
What If I Am Unable To Manage My Affairs?
Dangers Of D.I.Y Wills