If you haven’t already put in place arrangements before you’ve passed away, then this could place unnecessary stress on your loved ones who might end up having to spend considerable time trying to piece together your financial and personal affairs.
By making arrangements during your lifetime, you will hopefully make your family’s lives that bit easier as well as give you peace of mind.
Here’s a checklist of important steps to take now before you die:
- Make a list of all your financial assets, including bank accounts, investment portfolios, National Savings products, pensions, insurance policies and accounts held with utility companies – writing down the account numbers, sort codes and names in which the accounts are held is particularly helpful (but do not give the card numbers, pin numbers or other key security information). Including details of any professional advisers, such as a solicitor or accountant, can also be very useful.
- Make a list of any properties you own, including whether you are the freeholder or leaseholder (and if leaseholder, who the freeholder and/or managing agent is), whether the property is subject to a mortgage or tenanted and where any original title deeds are stored.
- Make a list of any valuable possessions you own, such as, jewellery, paintings and watches, and where these are held.
- Make a list of all your online accounts (e.g. social media accounts, blogs, cloud storage accounts) – although it may seem like a good idea to write down the passwords of your online accounts after you have gone, it is likely that your loved ones will be in breach of the website’s terms by using them. To legitimately use your online accounts after your death, your loved ones should notify the various online platform(s) via the proper channels and request permission to access these. Requirements vary and it is worth investigating. For example, with Apple, you can add one or more ‘legacy contacts’ to your Apple ID, allowing those access to the data in your account, including photos, messages, notes and files, after you have gone. Without a legacy contact, access to your account can only be granted with a court order.
- If you own any crypto assets, ensure that both your public and private keys are either noted somewhere secure, or made known to someone, to ensure that your wallet can be accessed following your death.
- Make a Will, or if you’ve already made a Will, check that this is up to date – you should also ensure this is kept in a secure place (e.g. in a personal safe at home or with your solicitors) and tell your family where this is.
- Let your loved ones know about your funeral wishes – you could do this simply by telling them or by writing them down in a letter or in your Will. Points to consider could include whether you would rather be buried or cremated, where you want your ashes scattered, as well as any music, flowers or readings. Also remember that if you don’t want your organs to be used following your death you need to formally register this on the NHS organ donation website.
- Arrange who will look after any children – the best way of doing this is by appointing guardians in your Will (but check they are happy to look after them first).
- Organise what will happen to any pets – you could decide to leave your pets to others in your will (but again check they are happy to do this first) or otherwise, the RSPCA offers a free Home for Life service which you can sign up for.
When going through the checklist, you might find it simpler to include all of the above details of your arrangements in one file and it is important that you tell your loved ones where they can find this.
Reviewing your details on at least an annual basis should also be carried out to ensure these are as up-to-date as possible.
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