Talking about death can be hard, planning for it can be even harder. But the fact is, the older we get, the more loved ones we have to say goodbye to, and the better idea it becomes to get prepared. Even if you’re not planning to shuffle off this mortal coil quite yet, it never hurts to tidy things up in case the unthinkable should happen.
So, what does getting your affairs in order in the UK look like? We’ve produced this handy guide to take you through some of the major things to consider when looking ahead.
Without a will, all your assets will be distributed according to the letter of the law when you die. This may not be in line with what you’d prefer, so you can lay down your exact wishes as soon as possible, to make sure they’re respected.
A will names someone (or more than one person) as your executor of estate, the person whose job it is to protect your money and property while it gets properly sorted. This could involve settling outstanding debts, locating and informing inheritors that they can expect something in your will, and handling the general day-to-day aspects of the process, including the probate process if required.
Your executor, or executors, don’t have to be legal professionals, but you can hire a professional to perform the task if you want, although they could charge for the service. You’ll make your executor’s life easier by ensuring your will is kept up to date, and making certain they know where it’s kept.
You can learn more about making a will, and putting it into practice, on the GOV.UK website.
Paperwork is one of those facts of life. The longer you hang around, the more it’s going to build up. Nowadays, a lot of services like banks encourage customers to keep all their records digitally, but it’s going to be a while before that’s commonplace.
If you’re in the habit of just bunging stuff in a drawer once you’ve looked at it, it might be worth spending an afternoon sorting your paperwork out. Filing things neatly, throwing out what’s no longer relevant, and generally just keeping your important documents in one place can be a great help to your loved ones.
Documents to put in this file might include:
- A record of your bank accounts, including statements.
- Deeds to any property you own, along with mortgage records.
- Your birth certificate, marriage certification, or divorce papers.
- Written records of any outstanding debts, including unpaid bills.
- Tax records, including a P60.
- Records of any savings and investments you might have.
- Your Life Insurance documents.
- Your most recent last will and testament.
- Your living will, a document specifying what types of treatment you prefer, or ones you’d refuse, in case you’re unable to communicate your wishes.
As hard as it can be to talk honestly about dying with your nearest and dearest, it can be harder still to talk about the possibility of losing your mental capacity as you get older. However, it’s a conversation which could save you and your loved ones a great deal of stress and heartache.
One option is to come to an agreement with family and friends about how you’d like them to help you further down the line. Data protection laws could require you to give verbal or written authority to other people before they can deal with some financial institutions on your behalf, so this is something you can handle early and informally.
However, a more in-depth arrangement could involve giving power of attorney to someone you trust. If you think there might be a longer period of time where you’re unable to act for yourself, you can give someone the authority to do so on your behalf, while you still have mental capacity.
If you don’t sort out power of attorney while you’re able to do so, and later require someone to help you with your affairs, things will have to get sorted through the courts. This could be time-consuming, expensive, and you might not end up with your first choice of candidate.
Once lasting power of attorney is set up, the named person will be able to take some weight off your shoulders in your golden years, with things like:
- Overseeing your property and financial affairs, including bank accounts.
- Making end of life arrangements for you when the time comes.
- Agreeing a do not resuscitate order with medical professionals.
Again, GOV.UK is a great resource for full legal details regarding power of attorney in the UK.
If you’re in Scotland, you’ll have a bit more paperwork to fill in to give someone power of attorney, since it’s not arranged under the umbrella of a specific bit of law. Your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau can help you with the paperwork if you get stuck.
If you’re in any doubt about this aspect, you might want to seek independent legal advice to get some peace of mind.
As befits the subject, getting ones’ affairs in order can be heavy on the legal and medical aspects. However, there’s more to life, and other things to consider when it comes to your legacy.
Caring for pets is something that sometimes gets forgotten. Nominating someone to look after your animal friends when you’re no longer able to can streamline the process of finding them a loving new home.
Your funeral arrangements are also something to think about, to be sure that your life is celebrated the way you’d like. From the songs you’d like played to where you’d prefer your ashes to be spread, it can be a huge help to your next of kin if you let them know the fine details. Alternatively, you can choose to take care of your own funeral arrangements. Take a look at our funeral planning guide.
Social media is now a huge part of everyday life for millions of Brits. Letting someone know what you’d like done with your online presence once you’re gone can help craft the right kind of legacy for yourself.
Your obituary is another huge part of how you’re remembered. Leaving a few notes for the writer to work with could make sure that you’re leaving the best possible message behind you.
If you’re taking steps towards making life easier for your loved ones after you die, you might want to consider Over-50s Life Insurance. At FiftyLife, we offer low monthly premiums, full, immediate cover for accidental death, and guaranteed acceptance for UK residents between 50-84.
Contact FiftyLife today and speak to one of our friendly team of experts, they’ll be able to talk you through your options for protecting your nearest and dearest.