We all have to go one day, and, in our experience, it is better to be organised and prepared as far as possible.
At Magenta we have had some wonderful discussions with clients about how they want to go and be remembered; the parties they want to have; the music; the readings; their legacies etc.
We do understand, however, that some clients find this difficult to discuss, especially with loved ones who might become upset.
This is not just a concern for those of us of advancing age – sadly we have had young clients die unexpectedly – so the sooner we get our affairs in order the better.
The following is an informal checklist of things to consider organising at any stage of life:
Make a Will
Writing a will is the simplest and most binding way of ensuring that the assets you own will pass to those you specifically want to get them once you have died.
Some people put off writing a will because they don’t like to think about dying and may even think it may hasten their demise! We have facilitated the writing of wills for many clients and can promise that making a will does not mean you will die sooner!
We all know we will die at some point and this is just a sensible bit of administration that should be sorted out beforehand.
Statistics still show that around 60% of UK people do not have a will despite the publicity and free will writing services available.
Wills do not need to be complicated – for most people their affairs will be straightforward and they can probably write their own will, especially when they are young.
All that is needed is to name someone to wrap up things when you die (an Executor); the names of people you want your things to go to (the beneficiaries) and signatures from yourself and 2 independent witnesses.
Of course, if your affairs are more complicated (perhaps because there is a blended family or significant assets requiring tax planning) you should seek legal advice. Every year there is a “Write a Will Week” where wills can be written for free if legal fees are of concern.
The consequences of not making a will can be severe and make life very complicated for those left behind. Read more here.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)
These will allow someone to make decisions about your health and finances before you die if you are no longer able to manage this yourself.
If you want someone to be able to look after your affairs if you become incapable (for example, if you start suffering from dementia, or have a stroke etc.), you need to use a special kind of power of attorney, called a Lifetime Power of Attorney (LPA).
A LPA allows you to appoint someone (or up to 4 individuals) you trust to act as ‘attorney’ for you.
You can prepare a LPA whenever you like, provided you have the mental capacity to understand what you are doing. However, the LPA does not take effect until it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
There are two separate kinds of LPA, covering different issues:
- Property and financial affairs.
- Health and welfare.
A LPA can easily be set up online or you can take legal advice.
For more detailed information, do look at our previous blog here.
When people die unexpectedly or without any planning, often those left behind cannot find important documents to help settle the estate of the deceased.
Important documents will include your Will; bank accounts; insurance information; phone and computer passwords; mortgage and loan contracts, property deeds as well as a list of assets and liabilities.
Where these are all properly organised and their whereabouts communicated, things will be much smoother for everyone.
At Magenta we have produced a Magenta Manual to help you to keep all important documents and information in one place. You can see this here.
Talking about Death
It is so important that your loved ones know what you want to happen when you die (or even before you die.)
Yet so many people don’t like thinking or talking about this subject, decisions are left to loved ones which often result in family disharmony.
We often hear the words “my father/mother/brother/sister etc WOULD HAVE wanted……..”, but surely it would be better to say “they SAID they wanted…..”
Talking about death is definitely a tender and sensitive subject but good communication is key to keeping things simple and efficient without people getting upset.
For more information on how to raise this subject with loved ones, read our recent blog here.
Make a List
We understand that most people do not want everyone to know what they own and what they owe, but this becomes a very important issue once someone has died.
A simple list of assets and liabilities is invaluable to someone trying to settle an estate after death.
So by all means keep your list private, but at least let someone know where it is kept so it can be easily accessed when you are not around.
Most people think that this related to organising their finances to reduce Inheritance tax.
This is not just for retired people! Anyone with assets in excess of the allowances will have to pay tax at 40%.
Making sure that you have made plans for after you’ve gone will give you peace of mind. But providing your family with lasting benefits means taking preventative action now!
Protecting your estate is ultimately about securing more of your wealth for your loved ones and whilst it’s not nice to think about, it’s important to plan for what will happen after your death – to make the lives of your loved ones much easier.
Whether you want to provide for the next generation or leave a charitable legacy when you die, or you simply want to minimise an IHT bill, the sooner you start thinking about this the more you can do.
For most people, your financial affairs will be constantly changing, and therefore it is very important that your financial strategy is able to adapt similarly to changes in your situation.
Read more about this subject and access our Estate Planning Toolkit here
If you want a sensitive and understanding conversation about any of the issues raised in this blog do call us to arrange a meeting.