In my previous post, What Happens When I Die, I considered things like what would happen if I died abroad, and the basic necessary process of dealing with my remains.
Today, I want to take some time to think about what else happens that affects my wife and children.
Probate is a legal process which confirms an executor’s authority to deal with everything I own (my estate/possessions). Getting probate granted can take a long time, even when there is a will. In cases of intestacy (where there is no will), it can drag on for a lot longer.
If I leave everything to my widow in my will, then she’ll have to get probate granted before she can distribute my money, property etc.
Upon my death, my bank accounts and investments are immediately frozen, and everything ought to be considered as forming my estate and she needs a grant of probate to get at the money.
I was shocked to realise that if my wife popped online and did some internet banking to get food or to run the house as well as pay for my funeral costs – and the transactions took place after the time and date on the death certificate – then that would be fraud.
Obviously this doesn’t apply to joint bank accounts, but nevertheless – who knew that my wife could unwittingly become a criminal by trying to get my funeral sorted out.
Then I found out that term insurance and funeral plans refund premiums if the death is too soon, leaving everyone without any help. I also found out that medical schools refuse to take a body that donates organs to save lives, and that sometimes they are just too full to accept another body, again leaving everyone high and dry.
Life assurance means the beneficiaries have to pay the government inheritance tax. According to insurer Aegon, only 6% of life-insurance policies in the UK are set up as trusts (which avoid inheritance tax).
“In industry jargon, putting a life insurance policy into a trust is known as ‘writing life insurance in trust’ or a policy is ‘written in trust'”.
The good thing about writing a policy in trust is that it avoids tax and the insurer just needs a death certificate before paying-out – no need to wait for probate to be granted.
This raises the whole thing about the Will – appointing an executor and all that. I plan to have a look around this stuff in my next posts on here.
Other things that are overlooked are passwords and logins for internet shopping, accounts, utility bills, credit cards and more besides.
Even personal e-mail accounts and drive or cloud storage facilities – flikr family photos, or dropbox – or perhaps google drives holding personal information.
What about PINs for tablets and phones – or voicemail?
Some consideration of leaving behind access information is important – and it needs to be maintained and updated somehow too.
There is a lot to pull together -to “get my affairs in order” as they say, but I’m at least looking at this stuff now – hopefully heading off a lot of pain when the inevitable day dawns.