In a time of difficulty, loss or pain, having a clear perspective is almost impossible for any individual. Losing your loved ones has never been easy. But when you die, your loved ones are left to settle your financial affairs.
We all know handling finances is a difficult task. If the main individual of the family who has been taking care of the finances always suddenly passes away, handling finances can become impossible.
To make it easier for your family to handle finances after you, here is what you can do. We have tried to include some actionable advice regarding writing a Will, advance directives, power of attorney and living trusts.
Creating a File Labelled “My Plan”
Store copies of your estate planning documents in a file labelled “My Plan” and put them in your locker. This file should include a copy of your
- End-of-life instructions (such as advance directives and a medical power of attorney)
- Living trusts
- Your organ donation list
- Guardianship decisions
- Real estate records
- Financial Records for assets and debts
The file should also contain a copy of your official executor signed by you while you are still alive. Later, the copies of this file can be distributed among your heirs, family members, friends and trust.
Do not forget to mention your digital estate such as your online accounts and downloaded destinations. Also mention the way you want it all to be handled in your absence.
Name Your Executor(s)
People usually name a single executor or multiple executors in their Will. An executor is the individual who is in charge of your estate after you die. They are usually responsible for settling your financial affairs, getting your debts and taxes paid and distributing assets. Also, if necessary they have to deal with probate (which is a legal process of authenticating a Will).
Couples usually appoint their better half as their executors in the Will. If you are single, then choose someone you trust when writing a Will. An executor can be anyone - your children, a relative or a close friend.
On the other hand, having a secondary executor mentioned in the Will means you’re covering all bases. The secondary executor comes will be called upon should your primary executor die or refuse to execute the responsibilities bestowed upon them.
Additionally, you are also supposed to inform your family and loved ones about who the primary and secondary executors are. Hence, they would know whom to contact regarding your estate distribution in your absence.
If you have any special instructions or wishes to be executed after you die, it is best to inform your executor well in advance. This helps your executor to prepare for any potential risks that may arise and thus can minimise its effects.
Add your executor as a co-signer on your financial accounts
Having your executor as a co-signer on your financial accounts will make it easier for them to access the money you have in your bank to pay for your funeral and other expenses. The other expenses may include airfare of your loved ones who cannot afford it otherwise or shipping your beloved pet to a distant relative.
On the other hand, having a co-signer on your accounts also means that the money will be made available during any probate and is easily made accessible to your heirs.
If you do not feel comfortable having a co-signer or rather having your executor to be your co-signer, you can simply give them access to £10,000. This amount of money can be used for your funeral and contracting for home repairs to prepare your house for sale.
Rent a safe deposit box
In some unfortunate events where your house burns down, it destroys all the records of the estate planning that you have stored. Hence, it is advisable to keep copies of your plan and end-of-life care documents in a bank vault.
However, make sure that you have listed your primary and secondary executor as your co-signer for the safe deposit box. Having them as a co-signer gives them a direct access to it and do not forget to give them the keys to the box.
Decide an organ donation
People usually sign themselves to become an organ donor. So, if you want to become an organ donor, you need to inform your executors, family and close friends. Additionally, you even have to state it in writing and sign the document and preserve it, along with your other important documents.
If you want to be buried, buy a grave site
If you want to be buried after your death, you can buy your grave site. All you have to do is to mention it in writing and provide the location of the site to your executor, family and friends.
Consider Legacy gifts
People usually leave some amount of their estate for charitable trusts. However, you can either leave that amount of money for one or more organisations as a gift. Just remember, whatever you decide you give, mention it clearly in your Will.
Update your estate plan regularly
Not everyone makes a Will or an estate plan early in life. If you are among the few to draft their Will early in life, then you may need to update it. Certain situations in life change over time, if you are married you can get a divorced or you may marry again.
For this purpose, keep it a habit to review your estate plan at least once a year. Also, keep the documents updated, including investment and bank statements. This will help you make sure there is no confusion regarding your assets and wishes.
We understand that your death can be difficult for your family to overcome. But to make it easier for them, there are few things that you can do while you are still alive. Remember that the key is to make life easy for your family and friends in your absence.