Portsmouth News

Plan for the future – and help loved ones

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Being prepared for your own death is an essential part of life. Here are five simple steps to take

1. THINK ABOUT YOUR FUNERAL

“The first step to helping your family, and also ensuring your wishes for your funeral are followed, is to write them down,” says Executive Director of Red Apple Law (www. myredapple­law.com), Angie Wilson.

“It may be easier to start by thinking about what you don’t want as this provides some guidance and reassuranc­e to your loved ones that they won’t choose something you wouldn’t have wanted.

“Then think about what you would like. Flowers or donations to charity perhaps? What kind of service would you like? Ensure you talk through the individual parts of the ceremony with your loved ones.

“Don’t forget about the music you would like played during the ceremony either.

“The most important thing is to make sure you’re aware of all the choices that are available to you… and that someone knows what your choices are.”

2. START SAVING NOW

“Dying is actually a fairly expensive business,” says Angie. “And even the most simple of funerals can cost thousands of pounds.

“So what can you do about this? The short answer is not much but you can be aware of it and start planning now. There are a few options, from putting money into a high interest savings account, to a ‘later years’-type life insurance plan or a pre-paid funeral plan.

“Although any steps you may have taken along these lines will help, you must be aware of any shortfalls. With the sharp rises seen, year-onyear, how can you possibly know how much to save and for how long?

“If you have a pre-paid funeral plan you’re fully covered though aren’t you? Sadly, not necessaril­y. Regardless of how you are paying, I urge you to check one thing — how much of your disburseme­nts, such as doctor’s certificat­es, flowers, newspaper notices etc, are included/covered by your plan?”

3. ENSURE YOU’RE INSURED

“We’ve all seen the adverts and given fleeting thoughts around ‘what if ’ and many of us have life insurance in place, so we’re ok right?,” says Angie.

“Maybe so but when was the last time you checked the suitabilit­y of your policy or policies?

If your circumstan­ces have changed and you haven’t informed your insurance provider, you could well be paying monthly for something that wouldn’t actually pay out to your loved ones should you pass away!

“You owe it to yourself to dig the policy out and check through it, especially the exclusions section, as well as what your provider deems ‘a change of circumstan­ces’ to include?”

4. PASS ON YOUR PASSWORDS

“Ok, so who knows your passwords for Facebook, Amazon, internet banking, your TV subscripti­on accounts and just about everything else you sign into online — other than you?,” asks Angie.

“What happens if no one knows how to access these after you’ve passed away? The answer is an administra­tive, cumbersome nightmare and all this at the worst possible time for your family to be dealing with it!

“In order to work towards your hard-earned cash not becoming part of a forgotten account, what can you do?

“One solution is a ‘digital asset vault’, essentiall­y a digital filing cabinet where you can store passwords, important documents and other sensitive pieces of informatio­n all together, in one place. It gives you the ability to list and log your assets (accounts, property, membership­s etc.) to create your own Asset Register. You then appoint 2-4 trusted people with whom you can share this encrypted password with either during your lifetime or only when you choose for them to have it.

“If you do come across one of these ‘digital asset vaults’, make sure you check its security capabiliti­es, which should be at least ‘bank level’, ‘military grade’.”

5. WHERE THERE’S A WILL…

“Many people have probably suggested making a will over the years, but in my experience people leave it around 10 years before actually getting a will made,” says Angie.

“Essentiall­y, until your will is signed and your signature has been witnessed (this is termed the attestatio­n of the will) your will is simply a piece of paper, upon which your wishes are written — what goes where, in what share, to who etc. You name those you would like to care for any children you may have under 18 years of age (guardians) and finally you name the people you trust to deal with everything you own and follow the wishes in your will (your Executors).

“Once you are happy with everything on your will, you sign it in the presence of two independen­t witnesses. Your ‘piece of paper’ then becomes your Last Will and Testament.

“Why bother? Well, you could leave it and let Intestacy kick in — this is the set of rules governing what happens to your Estate (everything you own) if you die without a valid will in place.

“Partners may get nothing, you won’t get to choose who you would like to care for your children or deal with your affairs after you have gone. Worst of all, if you have no relatives, your Estate goes to the Crown.”

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