It’s the words you never want to hear….”Get your affairs in order”. It usually means you’re sitting in front of your doctor, and they hold bad news in their hand. Or even worse, you might not get any warning.
But how many of us really know what that even means? Preparing for the day we pass away is something most of us never do. Life is so busy, we have so much going on, why plan for something that may never happen, right? Wrong. NOW is the time to put a few simple things in place for when this happens.
Anyone who has had to deal with the death of a loved one, and the subsequent sorting of their affairs will tell you how confusing and time-consuming it can be. And keep in mind, at this time you’re likely to be still in the grieving process. There are some simple steps that you can follow that will make things a lot easier for those left behind.
The 6 most important things you can do for your loved ones are:
- Your Will. Make sure you have one, that it’s up-to-date and that your executor has a copy. Talk with your family members so they know what your wishes are (funeral and burial instructions) and note them in your will.
- Copies of your bank statements. It’s surprising how many families have just one person that manages the finances, sometimes right down to the withdrawal of money. Ensure everyone is on the same page with bank accounts. If in a long term relationship, have at least one joint account so if something happened to one of you, the other would still have access to the account.
- Superannuation and life insurance policy documents. Many super funds contain insurance and if you aren’t aware that your partner has a particular super fund, you may miss claiming money that you’re entitled to. Especially if there is funeral cover in play, as this can sometimes be an immediate payout. Keep all your superannuation documents in one place.A further note regarding funeral cover: You might assume it will be available immediately but this isn’t always the case. Check your policy to find out what documents you will need to make a claim. Make yourself aware of the process, especially if you don’t have a financial adviser, as you will be dealing directly with the insurer.
- Check you have specified the beneficiaries and be aware it is ESSENTIAL to review these beneficiaries. Ex-partners can potentially end up with everything if you don’t update your beneficiaries.
- Make sure you both know where to locate passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates etc.
- Lastly, also make sure everyone knows who your general insurance is with – such as house and car insurance
These points are a starting place only. It’s so important to ensure you have everything in order for the most unexpected of events.
SHANNON BENNETT, Southern Cross Financial
& APRIL TATA, Optima Partners