It’s really important to get your affairs in order while you’re alive and kicking, sane and sanguine. My father was so drowsy and disorientated in the later stages of his cancer that he could barely stay awake and my close friend Pauly who’s brain tumour turned off all powers of communication could not be understood. Now another friend, who’s partner has passed whilst on holiday in South America, is trying to get his affairs in order. This is often made impossible by lack of communication or organisation. These three events have left a legacy comprising a mish mash of papers, total confusion, hurried bank withdrawals, surprise discoveries of companies and assets. It’s a heartbreaking shamozzle blundering through and trying to sort their affairs all whilst in a state of heightened emotion and stress.
After three family deaths and as the Executor of 2 wills, I now know what I’m doing . . . I don’t want my family to go through this. So, I have my affairs in order and feel comfort in the fact that should I be hit by a bus crossing that bloody zebra crossing outside work (for that is surely the way I will go, splattered all over some four wheel drive windscreen and decorating their bull bar with my innards), I want to know that my beneficiaries, don’t have to go to such extraordinary, upsetting lengths to settle my affairs.
Get a Will . . I am surrounded by clients who think they’re not ‘worth’ anything. Then you ask if they own their own home and what assets they might have . . .they’re worth about $800,000! Now that’s why you need to make a will. Otherwise most will go in tax and it’s upto the public trustee as to how much goes to your beneficiaries. Plus it’s out of contention for months while probate goes through. Even if you’re a youngling with a bit in the bank GET A WILL (now confess . . .who doesn’t have one!)
Add a Power of Enduring Guardianship/Power of Attorney – this enables your nominee to act in your place if you are incapacitated or to make decisions about your medical care. Rules are different in different states and countries so you need a solicitor to do this. You want someone you trust to turn off your life support, not some doctor who needs the bed for another patient.
Note down all your assets and liabilities including location of statements, share transfers, holdings, bank accounts, pin numbers . . . when you die, your assets are generally frozen. You can only access funds to pay for funerals/wakes. Obviously keep this in a very private place, telling only someone you trust with your life.
Centrally file all your necessary papers and let someone you trust know where they are - These might include:
- Bank Statements
- Credit Card Statements
- Loan documents
- Insurance Policies
- Title Deeds/Birth Certificates/Citizenship Papers/Passports
- Wills/POA/Testamentary Trust docs
- Car Registration, Cheque books and tax return statements
Allocate any special treasures. My Grandmother had a darling bracelet that all the girls in the family wore as a wedding bracelet. It’s now in the possession of HippyBro who is childless and already married . . . what the? My mother’s gold charm bracelet which also had a few charms I’d bought on my travels was given to my sister in law! For fucks sake I bet she doesn’t even know where it is. My mother in a moment of madness or without consulting anyone, divvied up said possessions. I scored two wedding rings and her engagement ring which didn’t have any sentimental value to me . . .and buckleys of fitting my rather square Celtic mitts. if only she’d asked, I would have loved the “Love Knot” bracelet and the Swiss Chalet charm. Similary, I have made it clear to my mother-in-law that I do not want the chiming clock promised to my first born!
Make your wishes clear. Talk about cremation, burial, being scattered or plonked in a plot. Leave a list of people you would like to be notified of your departure. Although bad news travels fast, they’ll know soon enough. Me, I’m for the oven and recycling on the rose bed!
Now I’m serious folks. . . I see it ALL the time. Get your affairs in order and make life easy for those you leave behind . . . you’ll be feeling no pain but they’ll be shovelling shit from here to eternity!