One day we will all die. There, I have said it. The great taboo. And given its inevitability we may as well prepare for it. By organising our affairs in advance, we can ensure that we minimise any potential confusion, conflict or ambiguity for those we leave behind. All other important life events – pregnancy and birth, marriage, home ownership – are meticulously planned to ensure they happen in the way we had always hoped for. Our final wishes, on the other hand, are rarely discussed in advance.
Listed below are some areas to consider to provide your loved ones with clarity at the time of your passing. Grief can be all-consuming so anything that can be done in advance to minimise further distress at this difficult time should be embraced.
- Will – ensure that you have a current will and that your family are aware of where it is stored. It is worth noting that if you are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner will not automatically inherit anything unless it is detailed within your will.
- Power of Attorney – this is a legal document which allows you to appoint one or more people to help you make decisions, or to make decisions on your behalf, if you have an accident or an illness that renders you unable to do so at some point in the future. It is worth bearing in mind at this point that one person is diagnosed with dementia every three minutes in the UK so arranging the necessary safeguards is advisable.
- It is worth considering inheritance planning if you believe that your estate could be subject to inheritance tax. There are many ways to legally minimise the inheritance tax bill received by your loved ones after your death.
- Collate important documentation and communicate where this is stored. By having one complete list of your bank account numbers, utility providers, social media and online storage user names, safety deposit box information etc you will simplify the administration of closing them all down. It is not necessary to pass on passwords. The account numbers or usernames along with a copy of your death certificate will suffice. Please ensure that this list is safely stored.
- Consider ongoing provision of care for any dependants and communicate your wishes. It is important to obtain the agreement of the proposed carer and to use this opportunity to outline any specific wishes you have regarding the future care. Any plans that you make need to be detailed in your final wishes.
- Pets – as with the previous point, it is sensible to think about who would look after any pets you may have when you are no longer around to care for them. The SSPCA and RSPCA provide a ‘Forever care’ / ‘Home for Life’ service that can be organised in advance if you do not have any friends or family willing or able to help. This is a charitable service and it might be worth considering leaving a gift in your will to the charity.
- Consider writing a living will, also known as an Advance Decision, which allows you to express your wishes to refuse medical treatment in the future, even if it could lead to your death. It would only be used if there came a time when you were unable to make or communicate your own decisions. It is legally binding and needs to be communicated to your GP / medical team.
- Organ donation – do you wish to donate any or all of your organs and if so have you communicated this intention?
- Funeral planning – many options exist regarding how your funeral will unfold. Do you wish to be buried or cremated? Would you like flowers or donations? Do you have a preference regarding hymns, readings or where the wake should be held? Do you have a favourite photo that you would like to be on the order of service? Why leave these details to chance when you can ensure that your send off is exactly as you would wish.
- Finally, it is important that you discuss all of the above with your loved ones or ensure that they know where to find all the relevant information.
Did you know that Biscuit Tin can help you organise, store and manage your end of life planning? Sign up here