Estate planning and getting your affairs in order

Estate planning

It is perfectly normal to keep putting off estate planning to ‘get your affairs in order’, however, spending time organising your affairs ahead of time will significantly help your family and friends make a sad and difficult time less stressful. It will also enable them to more easily carry out your final wishes.

To help you to get the process started, we have prepared some helpful tips which you might have missed or not be aware of.

Make a Lasting Power of Attorney

This can be overlooked, as many people do not consider what would happen to them if they were to lose their mental capacity at any stage. By putting this legal document in place, you can choose who makes the decisions for you should this circumstance occur. It gives authority to one or more persons to make decisions and manage your affairs. It is so important to have a power of attorney in place to ensure your financial affairs and medical care are handled well. There are two types, one for health and welfare and the other for property and financial affairs. Our advice is to keep your original copies safe and take some photocopies so your family members can easily send them out to organisations if necessary.

Ensure you have a valid will in place

Part of estate planning and getting your affairs in order is ensuring your wishes are carried out, by having a valid will. This legal document will set out what happens to your worldly possessions. It will also make the process of sorting everything out for your family and friends easier. If you do not have a will, the process can be more stressful and time consuming and everything you own may not go to the people you would want them to. Try to remember to tell your relatives where your will is kept as it can often get misplaced, and the safe place can get forgotten. Your solicitor can also hold a copy. By minimising hurdles, you can make a challenging time less stressful.

Organise your financial affairs

To help expedite the probate process after you have died, you would be wise to have all your documents and financial information one place, together with the necessary logins and passwords. This will ensure the process runs smoothly for your family when arranging your affairs after your death. Probate can take up to 22 weeks in the UK and inheritance tax must be paid at the end of the sixth month after a person’s death, so it pays to be organised. Leave clear instructions about the accounts you have including how your income and expenditure is managed. Setting up a joint bank account will enable living arrangements to continue as before.

Organise documents, subscriptions and passwords

Estate planning and getting your affairs in order includes having important papers stored handily so that they can be quickly found. It can help to create a short document explaining where things are stored. These can include national insurance numbers, birth certificates and tax reference numbers. Other key information and contacts should be easily accessed so that memberships, subscriptions, and contracts can be cancelled. Online passwords should be safely stored, with someone having access to them.

Create a list of funeral wishes

Thinking about your funeral wishes can be very beneficial to your family. They are a list of specific instructions, separate from your will and include where you want your funeral, and more details about whether you would like a traditional funeral or a colourful celebration of life. A statement of your funeral wishes can be stored alongside your will. It is not legally binding but can bring comfort to family members who will feel relief that they are carrying out how you wished your funeral to be arranged, from flowers to readings and music. It is an easy process, and you can download a PDF version of our form.

Other things to consider:

  • Nominate dependants if you have a pension scheme
  • Discuss long-term care
  • Talk with a financial advisor/accountant for inheritance planning
  • Clear out unwanted items
  • Make an inventory of your possessions

How can CPJ Field help with estate planning and getting your affairs in order?

Whilst it is not always easy to talk about, being open and prepared is important, and we can help with facilitating this to make it easier. We hold a database of recommended legal and administrative services at our funeral homes so you can easily find the right person local to your area. Estate planning and getting your affairs in order can help to avoid family unrest, preclude assets going to the wrong person and prevent expensive and time-consuming disputes. Contact CPJ Field for a chat and for more information; a large part of our role as funeral directors is to signpost the best sources of advice when it comes to having your affairs in place or making end of life arrangements.

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