Be Prepared for Death – Planning Ahead Pays Dividends

Be prepared for Death – it is inevitable!

Dying has never left a bigger hole in someone’s pocket than it does today – and it will only get worse. So being prepared for death makes more sense than ever. Costs, including things such as probate fees, funerals and headstones have risen by 20 per cent in the last four years, far more than inflation, and now (2017) stands at £8,802, roughly the equivalent of three months’ average UK salary before deductions, according to Axa Sun Life.   We can certainly help at least to ensure that the basic costs of the funeral are prepared for, but death can be far more complicated than “just” paying for the funeral

Funeral Plan Quotes

Funeral Plan Quotes

Equally worryingly, Sun Life says that 25% of us have made no whatsoever whatsoever for our demise, including making a Will. And almost half haven’t put a bean towards funeral costs, presumably on the vague assumption that the money will come out of their estate. Perhaps their friends and family will cover the costs. What a nice gift!

Everyone needs to prepare for their death, not least because failing to do so can leave their loved ones in the lurch. Worse still, it can divide the family in ways you won’t believe until like us at the Prepaid Funeral Review. you have experienced the pointless stupidity of family quarrels which could so easily have been prevented by a little advance planning.  Many families never recover from these quarrels, which at a less stressful time would never have happened.

Be Prepared for Death  – make a Will.

Firstly, make a Will. This is absolutely critical. A legally valid Will means that you can choose where the money goes to, how you want to be buried or cremated (though it is much better to actually make the arrangements as many Wills re not read until after the burial!) How is it going to be paid for and so on. Not making a Will, or having one that isn’t properly signed and witnessed, is lost, or has been inadvertently cancelled, means the unfair Rules of Intestacy will apply, and can cost your loved ones everything.

And there’s a real emotional cost involved in intestacy too. There’s nothing like a no-Will situation to open up a family rift. And the last thing your grieving family and dependants want to do is to have to get involved in the legal minutiae of someone dying intestate.

Having a Will is one thing. Ensuring it’s administered properly is another matter entirely. Most people opt to have professional help – something else that needs to be allowed in the Will – but it is possible, although extremely time-consuming, to do it yourself.  If you have a Will already (well done!) you might find it worthwhile to join Will Custodian Ltd to help keep it secure and up to date.  More details on their site.

Then try and plan ahead for your own funeral. It’s possible to either secure the cost of a future funeral by paying for it now, or by putting money into a plan that will pay out when the time comes, although this can be very expensive in the long run. Specialist life insurance plans are also available.  Deposit accounts almost never keep up with inflation, and will be counted as part of your estate for Social Security and Inheritance Tax calculations.

What type of funeral would you like? According to Sun Life Direct the average cost of a funeral was (2016) £3,897 and the extra expense of related costs such as flowers and memorials is nearly £1,900. Styles and costs vary enormously and you’ll need to factor in the expense to any Will provisions you might make.

The difference between a burial and a cremation, for example, is around £700.

Ultimately, the burden of organising a funeral rests with the living and if money is tight it’s possible to make some savings.

If you can bear it, shop around for the best price. Having a Wake at home can also save money.

And if it’s simply an issue of cash flow, many banks and building societies will release money on presentation of a death certificate.

Investigate whether you qualify for a grant from the Social Fund. If you’re on benefits and can prove you can’t afford to pay for the funeral, you could get up to £700 worth of help from the Department for Work and Pensions. We’re told that half of the applications are turned down, and they take months, so don’t rely on it!  If your do succeed in your application, it won’t cover everything, but it’s not a bad start.

Although it’s easy to think that dying is the end of the matter, for those left behind it can be a traumatic time. Leaving your finances in order can help to reduce the trauma just a little.

Ten things you need to know to be prepared for death – yours or anyone in the family:
1. The cost of dying has risen by 20 per cent in the last four years. More than inflation.

2. It now stands at more than £8,900, or three months average wage.

3. A recent survey suggests that a quarter of us have made no provision whatever for our demise.

4. And over half haven’t put any money aside for funeral costs. Many have put it somewhere which will be had for the family to access it.

5. It is essential to make a Will.

6. The financial and emotional costs of not doing so can be huge.

7. Ensure the Will is administered properly.

8. Take out a financial plan to pay for a funeral.

9. The average cost of a funeral is £3,000.

10. See if you can get a Government grant to pay for some of the costs. Most people will not qualify.

There are a series of articles and videos here which will help you review many aspects of your Legal Planning as part of being prepared for death.