Getting financial affairs in order before a death

As humans we are all tied together by one unique experience, death. Every year on average 60 million people die1. In the United Kingdom alone this figure is 670,000, yet despite this, the  topic of death remains a taboo conversation easily avoided2.

 

Death can often be associated with triggering feelings of anxiety and fear, both about one’s own end and the fear of loss of loved ones. Starting a conversation about death may bring up uncomfortable emotions and existential concerns that people tend to want to avoid. This can make getting affairs in order before a death incredibly challenging.

However, talking to family and friends about your wishes can give you and your loved ones peace of mind.

 

Preparing a will

It’s hard to think about the end, and to acknowledge one’s own mortality, but preparing a Will is an important step for any adult; and reduces pressures on loved ones left behind at a time when they may be grieving. A Will is a legally binding document that details your final wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the care of your children after your death.

Ensuring a Will is in place helps to avoid family conflicts, giving peace of mind, and most importantly makes sure that your children are raised by someone you trust and who shares your values. When creating your Will it is important to consult with legal professionals to ensure that it is compliant and legally binding, whilst accurately reflecting your intentions.

Additionally, it is vital that you review your Will regularly, especially after any major life events such as marriages, divorces, births, or changes in your financial situation.

 

Take a look at these easy steps and start the conversation for end of life planning:

  • Appointing a guardian of you children
  • Appointing an executor
  • Consider your beneficiaries
  • Distribution of assets to your loved ones’
  • Consider your cherished things
  • Giving to charities or a bequest
  • Funeral instructions
  • Accountant details

 

Putting money aside for a funeral

When life ends, grieving families are often left behind with the burden of organising a funeral. Losing a loved one is emotionally challenging, and dealing with financial stress during this time can make the situation even more difficult. Funerals can be expensive and hard to think about, but having funds set aside can ease the financial burden on your loved ones, allowing them to focus on grieving.

Pre-planning funerals enables you to have peace of mind that your wishes are known to your family. In times of grief, people may be vulnerable to emotional decision-making, and having a pre-paid funeral plan or fund can help prevent impulsive financial choices that may not align with your or your family’s long-term financial well-being.

 

Settling any debts

Settling any outstanding debts before you die is an important step in protecting your financial legacy, whilst ensuring families aren’t left with unexpected financial responsibilities. Unpaid debts may lead to legal complications, including creditors making claims against your personal assets.

By settling your debts in advance and ensuring your will is up to date, you are better able to exercise control over your finances, even after your gone. This ensures you can plan for the distribution of your assets according to your wishes, prevent legal challenges and have smoother dissemination of your assets to your loved ones.

 

Appointing a Power of Attorney to manage finances

Appointing a Power of Attorney to manage finances is a crucial component of financial planning before you die, and grants someone else the authority to act on your behalf in financial matters. Power of Attorney is particularly valuable in case you become incapacitated as a result of illness or other unforeseen circumstances. It allows someone you trust implicitly to step in and manage your financial affairs on your behalf when you are unable to do so.

If you become incapacitated and don’t have an acting Power of Attorney, a court has the ability to appoint a conservator or guardian to manage your financial affairs. This legal process can be emotionally taxing for your family, time-consuming, expensive, and may not align with your wishes.

To learn more about how you can appoint a Power of Attorney visit the Government website here – please note you do not need to live in the UK or be a British citizen to appoint Lasting Power of Attorney.

 

Starting the conversation about getting financial affairs in order before a death

Did you know that a recent study revealed that only 10% of the British population have planned for death, and 68% have not written a will? 3 Nothing makes talking about death any  easier, but being prepared and having the correct documentation in place alleviates the burden on your loved ones. So when it comes to thinking about getting your financial affairs in order before a death consider the phrase by philosopher Sir Francis Bacon: “knowledge is power”.

Understanding the process is key to making sure your financial legacy lives on, and dying without a Will could leave your family and loved ones with very little control over your assets. Talking openly about death is a positive step toward normalising an important aspect of the human life. However, it is vital to ensure that all of your family and friends understand your end-of-life preparations and wishes. Be sure to approach the conversation at the right time in the right setting, share your feelings, and make sure you listen actively.

It is important to also consider incorporating positive elements into the conversation, share memories, express gratitude, and celebrate the life experiences you’ve had together.

1 The World Counts, 2024. Available at: https://www.theworldcounts.com/populations/world/deaths. Last accessed January 2024.

2 Statistica, 2024. Available at: https://www.statista.com/topics/6656/death-in-the-uk/. Last accessed January 2024.

3 Sue Ryder Charity, 2024. Recent Study Finds That Only 10% of Brits Have Planned For Death. The Gazette. Available at: https://m.thegazette.co.uk/all-notices/content/103369. Last Accessed January 2024.