Thinking about how your family would manage if you weren’t around may seem a little morbid. But it makes good financial sense and means you can rest assured that your family will be better prepared – both practically and financially – if the worst were to happen.
Here’s a checklist of things you can do to make life easier for your family after you’ve gone. If the list looks a little daunting remember that it might not all apply to you and you don’t need to do everything at once.
Make or update a will
Most of us know how important it is to have a will and keep it up to date but still many of us don’t get round to it. Our guide on how to make a will has plenty of useful tips and practical help to get you started.
It’s especially important if you live with someone and aren’t married to them as you won’t automatically inherit from each other if you don’t make a will.
Write a 'When I’m gone' document
Pulling together all your personal and financial information into a simple document can really help your loved ones when you’re gone. It will mean they can trace everything that belonged to you and be reassured they’ve not missed something important.
Have a conversation about your wishes with your family
Just having a simple conversation with your family about your wishes may seem like a hard thing to do but can remove a great deal of uncertainty for them at a difficult time. You might like to talk about your funeral wishes and what you’d want to happen if you became seriously ill and unable to make your own decisions.
Make a power of attorney
A will sets out what you want to happen when you die but it doesn’t help if you become unable to make decisions when still alive – whether that’s because of an accident or illness. So, it makes sense to make an ongoing power of attorney (known as a lasting power of attorney in England and Wales, a continuing power of attorney in Scotland, and an enduring power of attorney in Northern Ireland) which lets you appoint people you trust to look after your money and property and/or your health and welfare.
They’re not just for older and wealthier people – most people, if not everyone, would benefit from having one. You can set one up at any time and it can just sit waiting to be used if the need arises. Our guide explains all you need to know.
Make sure your family has enough to live on
If you have people who are dependent on you – whether that’s children or a partner - it’s important to consider how they would manage financially if you were no longer around. Even if you don’t earn a salary there may be additional costs, such as childcare, which would need to be covered. You may want to consider taking out life insurance which pays out a lump sum or regular income when you die.
Make a plan to pay for your funeral
Funerals these days are surprisingly costly. Making a plan to pay for your funeral will mean your family won’t have to find several thousand pounds at a difficult time. There are different ways of doing this – you could take out a funeral plan (where you choose and pay for your funeral in advance) or put money away in a savings account.
Think about organ donation
Decide if you want to be an organ donor and make sure your family knows your decision. Even better, register your decision with the organ donation register for your country:
- Organ donation register in England
- Organ donation register in Scotland
- Organ donation register in Wales
- Organ donation register in Northern Ireland
In England and Wales everyone is automatically opted in to organ donation so you only need to register if you don’t want to be a donor or if you want to specify which organs you’re happy to donate. Scotland changed to a similar opt-in system in March 2021 for those aged 16 and over. The law in Northern Ireland is changing to an opt-out system in spring 2023.
Talk to your family about money
In many families, tasks are divided up and it’s often the case that one person oversees the finances. If this is the situation in your family, try to set aside time to make sure that another person starts to learn about the family finances. Show them where the important documents are kept, make sure they know what accounts you have – especially online accounts for which there might not be any paper work - and start to involve them in some of the regular tasks such as paying bills and budgeting.
Think about care of children
If you have children it’s important to decide on guardians – people who could look after them if you and your partner were no longer around. Think about who you would want to step into this role and ask them if they’d be happy to do so. Then make sure you appoint them as guardians in your will. You can also use your will to make sure there will be money to look after your children.
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