Getting Ready To Meet The Grim Reaper
Death is a fact of life, but life goes on for those we leave behind and so being prepared for the reality of your own death can go a long way to easing the making life easier for those who stay behind. Here are five tips to help you do so.
Look at minimising the impact of inheritance tax
Estate planning can be a complex topic, but the basic idea behind it is that you do everything legally possible to ensure that as much as possible of your estate goes to who and what you love rather than to HMRC. If you have significant assets (for example if you own a house) you may wish to seek professional advice on this and if you have any assets at all, it can be very worthwhile to keep the concept of estate planning in your mind during your later years.
Put your trust in insurance
Life insurance policies can be ring-fenced into trusts, which has two big advantages for the beneficiaries. The first is that it means that the payout can be made before probate is completed and the second is that is means that the money is excluded from the estate itself for the purposes of inheritance tax calculation.
Make a will
You have two choices, you take control of who gets what and how by making a will or you leave your estate to be divided up according to rules laid down by the government. While considering this, you might also wish to consider the fact that while wills and inheritance planning are separate, hence the two separate points, they are related and the way in which you bequeath your assets can influence the amount of inheritance tax, which is ultimately payable. You may remember that the late, great Rik Mayall died without a valid will, leading to much press speculation on how this would impact the tax payable on his extensive estate.
Give guidance as to your wishes regarding the disposal of your body
These days a funeral can be anything from a cremation with ashes being sent into outer space (literally) or turned into diamonds (also literally) to a simple burial in an environmentally-friendly casket and wakes can be anything from massive parties to small gatherings of family and close friends. Setting out your wishes clearly can make it much easier for your nearest and dearest to organise the funeral you want rather than them having to try to second-guess your wishes.
Put your (digital) paperwork in order
In the old days, people had to think about storing paperwork safely so that it would be both protected from damage and accessible upon their deaths. These days, there is still an element of this, it will probably be quite some time before it becomes acceptable to keep important legal documents such as wills and land registry documentation in purely digital format. In fact, arguably anything which is really important should be recorded both on paper and in a digital format. For example in addition to keeping a paper copy of your will yourself, you can scan a copy of it and keep it in electronic format and also keep a digital note of where your paper copy is kept and the details of the solicitor who drew it up.
You should also keep details of any financial products you have such as: bank accounts, credit cards and loans including mortgages, investments, pensions and insurance policies.
It is also a good idea to keep relevant documentation for any assets you own, particularly valuable ones such as your house, for example in addition to your mortgage and insurance details, you might find it useful to leave details of any work you had done on your house and any associated guarantees.
Finally, in this day and age, you may also want to think about digital assets such as social media accounts.
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