I have recently been assisting a friend whose husband, a man in his late fifties, sadly suddenly died. An avid rugby fan, loving father and husband, he was someone who lived his life to the full. He was described by many as living for today and in the moment.
Of course there is nothing wrong with having a zest for life but, when he died, he unwittingly caused a major problem. He was unfortunately not one to keep records. He had no Will, no bank statements, no insurance details and no details of any of his assets. The loss of a loved one is always traumatic, and seldom easy to cope with, but what made it harder for his family was having no way of knowing what assets he had, or where to find out all the information that is required to obtain a Grant of Probate.
Not only is it important to have a Will in place, it is also essential that your family and Executors know some basic details about your assets and liabilities, or even just know where to put their hands on the relevant information. I therefore suggest to my clients that they prepare a list of basic information just in case. The list should include, amongst other things :
1. Where your Will and Lasting Power of Attorney, if you have them, are stored;
2. The name of your solicitors, Financial Adviser and/or accountant;
3. Your bank name and account numbers (but not of course PIN numbers);
4. Details of any insurances, or similar products such as life insurance , car insurance, buildings & contents insurance, funeral plans etc;
5. Your funeral wishes; and
6. Details of other assets you might own such as stocks and shares, investment plans or pensions.
A simple list with a few basic details can not only save months of worry but also fruitless searching. It can also save time (and possibly money) when your estate is being wound up. The list can even be kept with your Will, often for no extra cost, but you must remember to update it periodically.
This is a simple, practical suggestion born from both professional and personal experience. If you have any questions about Wills, Inheritance, Estate or Care Fees planning, please do feel free to contact me.
Image by Rafa Bordes under a Creative Commons Licence