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Death happens - plan for it

20+ crucial checks to minimise financial trauma
 notepad and pen

Death can cause financial tragedies as well as grief. Yet planning for the end isn't about being morbid. It's about making crucial financial preparations to lessen the impact when it happens.

We've a checklist to help, covering wills, funerals and setting up a power of attorney, plus how to do the 'unpleasant issues' chat.

Death can cause financial tragedies as well as grief. Yet planning for the end isn't about being morbid. It's about making crucial financial preparations to lessen the impact when it happens.

We've a checklist to help, with tips on wills and inheritance tax to funerals and setting up a power of attorney, plus how to do the 'unpleasant issues' chat.

If you've any suggestions to help others, please add your tips in the forum. Also see: What To Do When Someone Dies.

Have the 'unpleasant issues' chat

Some things aren't best avoided. Hopefully you've still got decades of fit body and mind ahead, but there's a chance you might not.

Sort your will

 family under umbrella Don't leave a financial nightmare for those you love – ensure you've an up-to-date will. Making a will is the most important preparation any of us can make, even if you're perfectly healthy.

Arrange who would look after your dependants

If you've got kids under 18 or anyone else who depends on you, make sure you discuss with your partner and family who'd look after them after you've gone. It's tough to talk about, but don't put it off. Making plans and provisions now will help to ensure they're safe and cared for if the worst happens.

Plan early to save on inheritance tax

treasure chestWhen you die, the Government assesses the worth of your estate (everything you own) from cash and investments to property and business. If you don't do any planning for this, many can expect 40% of this to go in tax.

Teach others to wear the financial trousers

The fact you're reading this means it's likely you make a good share of your household's financial decisions. Yet if you died, would your loved ones know which date the rent's due, when your car insurance runs out and where the stopcock is?

Plan your funeral

 lily

When a loved one dies, having to make funeral decisions with no guidance - which music, did they want flowers, where to scatter ashes - can be harrowing at an already painful time. Yet making a few quick decisions on your own funeral now can be a real help to your relatives after your death, and it needn't be drawn out.

Plan ahead in case you lose your faculties

Thinking and talking about what would happen if our faculties deserted us is uncomfortable. Yet you need to consider how much worse the situation would be if you became incapacitated through a stroke, accident, dementia (eg, Alzheimer's) without sorting it first.

Remember you can't take cash with you

 wallet and coins Far too many people scrimp and sacrifice towards the end of their lives, trying to retain some money for their children's inheritance. Yet don't make yourself suffer because of it - after all, you can't take assets with you when you're gone.

Get inspiration from Chris' bucket list

Hopefully you've a long life ahead of you, but even if not, remember to live every day to the full.

Beware listing your passwords

 laptop in chainsIt may seem like a good idea to write down the passwords to your online accounts for after you've gone. But it's worth considering that even if your next of kin has your login details, it's likely they'd be in breach of the website's terms by using them, which could get them into trouble legally.

Consider saving a life after you've gone

Registering as an organ donor can be a huge help to someone in need after your death. However, it's a personal decision, so it's worth thinking about this early.

Should I take out an over-50s plan?

 piggy bank with padlock

Over-50s plans promise to pay a fixed lump sum on death, with no need for a medical, which you could then use to cover your funeral costs.

To refuse treatment, make a 'living will'

'Living will' is a term often used to refer to an advance decision (or an advance statement, see below). Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, an advance decision is a legal statement that lets you say if you don't want certain types of medical treatment in certain situations, if you lose capacity in the future.

Note down how you'd like to be cared for

 slippers

While advance decisions are legally binding and are only about treatments you want to refuse, if you want to ensure others know about how you want to be treated towards the end of life, you can make an 'advance statement'.

Ensure pets are provided for

You can leave pets to others in your will (check they're happy to look after them first), but if you don't have a loved one who would be able to take them in, the RSPCA offers a free Home for Life service.

Don't leave life insurance until it's too late

If you're older and reading this, life insurance is likely to be very expensive - plus your kids may be past the age of relying on you anyway. If you're younger, life insurance is well worth considering if you've got kids. Sadly, in the UK, one child in 29 loses a parent before they've finished full-time education.

Do debts die with you?

It's often said that "when you die, your debts die with you". But it's a little more complicated than that. When you die, anything you owe has to be paid first, before any assets can go to your beneficiaries.

Tell your next of kin knows where your will's kept

signpost

Don't forget to let a close relative or friend know where your will's kept, so that they'll be able to find it without any additional hassle at a difficult time.

Should I release the equity in my home?

Equity release is commonly marketed as a way to spend a home's value while still living in it, either by taking a loan or selling part. Do this and if you've dependants, less money will be left for after you've gone. But if you don't have any dependants, it isn't an issue.

Get extra help and support

If you're planning for the end of life, don't shoulder the worry alone - help is available and you make sure you seek it out.

Add your tips on the forum

 people chattingThe Deaths, Funerals and Probate forum board is a useful resource for sharing your thoughts and discussing all aspects of planning for the end.