Laws of Eve | Preparing your loved ones for your death
Each time that I am confronted by the death of a loved one, it brings sharply into focus the ways in which I could better organise my affairs to make things a little easier for the people I left behind. I reflect on the fact that my grandmother often told us what she wanted to happen once she passed away, because she felt that the end was drawing near. All the hymns that she wanted us to sing at her funeral and the scripture lessons were known. And, I remember my dear friend, Ava Dean, who wrote and signed a little list that helped us to know all the details of her funeral service.
It is amazing how precious those little pieces of information can be for the people who mourn, and how they help to minimise debates and potential conflicts among family members.
Apart from those bits of information, please remember to do the following:
- Prepare a will. Ensure that it is properly executed, and advise at least one person (especially one of your executors) of the place where that will may be found. Update it from time to time.
While you enjoy good health, try to secure adequate life insurance so that there are funds available to cover the expenses associated with your death.
- Prepare a list of your assets, including life-insurance policies and bank accounts, so that it will be easier for your loved ones to identify the property comprised in your estate, as there may be an immediate need for some of these funds after you have died. That list should also include the location of important documents, such as titles, bank books and insurance policies.
- Prepare a list of your debts, including any mortgage, car loan and credit card bills, so that unpleasant surprises can be avoided. The fact is that all debts must be settled before any remaining assets can be distributed to beneficiaries of an estate; so knowing the extent of the debts is as important as knowing the assets.
I know that facing issues related to death are difficult, but having to handle a loved one's affairs where no plans had been put in place is even more challenging.
In last week's article, 'Interest in the family home is no guessing game', I stated that the court's finding that the equal-share rule should be varied was influenced by "the fact that the manner in which the parties organised their affairs during the marriage partnership enabled the owner of the family home to acquire other property during the marriage". That was not accurate. It was the claimant who was able to acquire other property during the marriage, and this was one of the factors that led the court to conclude that she should not get an equal share of the family home.
I thank the judicial clerk at the Supreme Court who pointed out the error.