The Great Planning for Death Hunt

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  • P.S. a tip on the flowers if you do spend money on them, don't have them in a wreath or in a name, have a posy or a lovely arrangement, then as we did, we delivered them all afterwards to the local hospice where people there could enjoy them, we had lovely yellows in them so they were chirpy too, at least it gave some pleasure to some people on a very sad day.
  • NeilW
    NeilW Posts: 143 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    This is a job on the list at the moment, and I've had the advantage of administering two estates over the last year so some of the problems are fresh in the mind.

    - Don't alter your will by hand, get a new one made and destroy all the old ones. One of the wills I dealt with had a name crossed out. It cost about £3K of solicitors fees to straighten out the will and in the end it reverted back to what it was originally. If it had been done ahead of time it would probably have cost £200 tops.

    - Make sure you know your assets. The new inheritance tax rules mean that a couple don't have to be as vigilant about inheritance tax as they used to be - so wills can be simpler. However keep your eye on what you've got as you get older. If you have a decent pension it is remarkably easy to build up a huge cash pile as you get older, do less and time passes more quickly.

    - Make sure you use the 'gift out of income' IHT exemption to get rid of excess pension - particularly all you lucky 50 somethings with massive index linked final salary company pension schemes and houses that are paid off.

    - If like me you have small children, then make sure you draw up wills that deal with the situation involving the death of both parents. It only takes a freak wave while on holiday or a twitch of the wheel on a motorway.

    - Try to make sure the executor and/or the children's guardian are younger than you are. Lots of people put their parents down, but they ain't getting any younger and will hopefully pre-decease you.

    - And remember once you're dead, that's it. So once you got the 'being dead' paperwork sorted, make sure you live every day to the full doing the things you want to do. If not then change it - today.

    NeilW
  • Mikeyorks
    Mikeyorks Posts: 10,369 Forumite
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Make sure someone knows where a copy of your will is kept.

    ..... and, more importantly, where the original is. The copy is fine for planning what needs to be done .....but the original is mandatory for Probate.
    If you want to test the depth of the water .........don't use both feet !
  • Strapped
    Strapped Posts: 8,158 Forumite
    I think the philosophy of the Natural Death Centre will appeal to a lot of the MSE readership:

    http://www.naturaldeath.org.uk/

    "The Natural Death Centre is a charitable project launched in Britain in 1991. It aims to support those dying at home and their carers, and to help people arrange inexpensive, family-organised, and environmentally-friendly funerals. It has a more general aim of helping to improve the quality of dying."

    They have a handbook with lots of useful info, but in true money-saving style, the old edition can be found in full on the web (although of course some of the info will be out of date, although still lots of useful stuff like contacts who will sell a coffin direct to the public, how to store a body at home, etc) - a google search will bring it up.
    They deem him their worst enemy who tells them the truth. -- Plato
  • The only thing that's for sure in life is that you are going to die.
    Whats the point of saving money all your life and being careful with it, when along comes the funeral director and takes a great big chunk of it when you die. Money much needed at the time.
    Sign your body over to science, bodies are wanted for study all the time for trainee doctors and other medical professions.
    I talked to my family to make sure they were alright, then I applied to the Human Tissue Authority. I was sent all the paperwork which I duly read and signed and got countersigned.
    When I die my body will be taken away and it won't cost my wife or relatives anything. 3 years after that any parts left will be cremated at no cost and my family will be informed if they wish to attend.
    A possible saving of some £2000/£3000.

    This next bit is from the dept. of health website:

    While the number of people in England and Wales donating kidneys, livers and other organs has increased since 2000, the number of people leaving their whole body for medical science has fallen. Between 2000 and 2005 the number of body donations fell from 670 to 600. This has meant that some schools no longer have sufficient for their teaching needs.
    By contrast, the number of English and Welsh medical schools has increased, and new postgraduate anatomy departments have opened to improve the anatomy training of surgeons. With the formation of new medical schools, the number of medical students at most established medical schools has also increased in parallel, to a total of over 6,000 a year.
    This combination of reduced donations and increased numbers of students has resulted in a serious shortage of bodies for the education and training of medical and dental students, and for medical research.
    An increase in people who are wish to donate their body is necessary to make good the current shortage of bodies for education, but also to facilitate training in a number of surgical techniques that are permitted, for the first time, by the Human Tissue Act 2004.

    Lack of information
    However, there is also evidence that there are large numbers of people who do wish donate their bodies to support the anatomical training of medical students, and medical research but simply do not know how.
    Articles in the press in May and August 2005 which highlighted the shortage of body donations, led to a flood of enquiries from people who would be willing to donate their bodies, but who simply did not know how to go about it.

    Body donations and the law

    There are strict laws governing body donation. In the 1990's medical schools accepted very few bodies without the personal request of the donor. Since 2000, no bodies have been accepted unless the donor has asked for this.
    The 2004 Human Tissue Act will further strengthen the controls of body donation, as the Act requires the consent of the donor to be both written and witnessed.
    Provided a donated body is accepted, medical schools may hold the body for up to three years. During this limited period, the body will be used to teach medical students the internal structure and design of the human body.

    What happens to donated bodies?

    Provided the death has been registered and there is a consent form signed by the donor and held by a medical school, or a donation statement in the Will, the 'person in possession of the body' usually the next of kin, will contact the relevant medical school who will ask questions about the cause of death.
    Not all bodies that are donated are suitable. However, provided there are no medical reasons against donation (e.g. a post mortem examination, severe deformity, hepatitis or dementia) the school may accept the body, for 'anatomical examination or research', but for a period limited by law to three years.
    During the time the school holds the body, it will be used to teach medical students, dentists, trainee surgeons and other health professionals the internal structure and design. This involves detailed separation of the tissues and organs through dissection. Separated parts of the body will be brought together before the body is cremated or buried within three years from the date of death.
    If the donor, before death, or the next of kin after death give, their agreement 'parts' of the body may be retained for longer than three years. Written agreement confirmed by the next of kin is mandatory before any part can be retained. Approximately, two-thirds of donors agree, in advance, to retention of parts beyond three years.
    The particular details for donations to each medical school are set out in the documents, which the donor is asked to read before 'signing up', as an intending body donor. These documents are detailed so that donors and their relatives understand what is involved. If the donor has any questions, these will be answered by the bequeathal secretary at the relevant medical school.
    The donor is free to withdraw consent at any time. Under the present law, the next of kin can also decide not to activate the donation.
    Most donors take the view 'I don't mind what you do with my body after I have gone' and many say so in their letters requesting donation forms.

    How to donate a body for medical science

    Potential body donors should contact the Human Tissue Authority (HTA) who will put them in touch with their local medical school. The HTA can be contacted at the following address:
    • Contact:
      Human Tissue Authority
    • Address:
      Finlaison House
      15–17 Furnival Street
      London
      EC4A
    • Phone:
      020 7211 3400
    • Web:
      http://www.hta.gov.uk
  • Suzy_M
    Suzy_M Posts: 777 Forumite
    For the benefit of your nearest and dearest - put your house in order in preparation for a house clearance.

    Sorting and correctly filing paperwork is obvious but how many people go through their possessions with a view to the inevitable "de-cluttering" of their home. Relatives may not have the time to treat your possessions the way you would like them to so I would say go through your possessions and decide now how you would like them disposed of - or if you've finished with them yourself dispose of them NOW!

    Goods to charity is obvious but what about all the family photographs and letters etc - is someone in your family interested in family history? Or you may have hobby items you would like passing on to specific groups.

    Any family heirlooms of value - photograph them, write a description and include any provenance (family background) you may have.

    Also if you have any obscure hidey-holes used for valuables leave a sealed note with your will and other instructions.
  • I will try to keep this very matter of fact and unemotional, but this is a subject that I feel very strongly about. My husband died of bowel cancer age 38 just three months after the first sign of illness. People don't want to think about it, but sometimes the unthinkable does happen and it can leave you devastated. Anyone with children or financial commitments should have insurance and you should overestimate what you think will be needed and review it regularly (it is never enough!). Term insurance is an affordable way of providing for the unthinkable and often you can get terminal illness cover at little or no extra cost, critical illness cover is more expensive. Thankfully my husband was insured and he had terminal insurance cover, it enabled him to have the things he needed (such as a special chair) in the final weeks of his life. He was dead before NHS/social services had even started their assessments for aids and adaptations!

    It would be a very sensible exercise if every adult asked themselves the question what if I died tomorrow? does your next of kin know where the will is? could they find all your financial records, certificates etc? who would provide for your dependants? would there be sufficient money easily available to cover immediate needs? If you are not sure of the answers to these questions find out and put things right. This needs to be reviewed regularly.

    Even young people should be encouraged to talk about what they believe about death and what they want if/when they die. Consider such things as organ donation, burial, cremation, green burial etc. Where would you want your ashes scattered? would you want flowers at the funeral? As someone has already suggested, some small details about the funeral should be left to the family to choose, it does help. My children were 8, 12 and 14, they helped to choose the music for the funeral. I let them choose if they wanted to go to the crematorium or just to the church and I nominated a different family member to take care of each child. I also asked everyone attending the funeral to bring a written or photographic memory of my husband to the funeral, these were collected to make a scrapbook to help the children to remember their dad.

    Obviously everyone should make a will and should appoint a guardian for their children etc, but the small things matter too. It makes it easier for family members if they feel they are doing what you wanted, so make sure they know that you would be happy for your clothes to go to a charity, who should have your golf clubs, that kind of thing. You should also make your feelings very clear about what you don't want because it can avoid arguments or worry later.

    My husband told me that he wanted me to get on with my life and not be on my own, at the time I couldn't imagine doing that, but eventually what he said allowed me to move on.

    Just one last practical thing, have a list of household matters such as where the stopcock is, the name and number of the various people who maintain and repair the boiler, electrics, burglar alarm, insurance providers, fuel companies, phone and internet providers etc. Make sure you include account numbers and keep it up to date.

    Making sure everything is in order can save money, prevent delays and most importantly it can save a huge amount of heartache.
  • nqsenile
    nqsenile Posts: 42 Forumite
    Any thoughts on comparison of the different "Prepaid Funeral Plans"
  • mr._prude
    mr._prude Posts: 162 Forumite
    Photogenic First Post Name Dropper First Anniversary
    I am not a minister but please take time to prepare for certain death.

    Would we drive a car without a seatbelt or jump from a plane with out a parachute?
    Probably not, due to traffic laws or the laws of gravity we would end up in big trouble.

    Simalairly we have all broken God's law (eg. ever told a lie even a white one?) and when we jump from life to eternity with out God's parachute or seatbelt we will be in big trouble.

    That parachute/seatbelt is the Lord Jesus Christ, God has provided Him for the whole world, but it is up to you to put him on or to recieve Him

    For more info see https://www.needgod.com

    "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world yet lose his own soul"
    Jesus Christ 31A.D. (thee Man not the swear word)

    God bless
    P
  • WRabbit
    WRabbit Posts: 84 Forumite
    Mortgage-free Glee!
    A very close relative died at the start of this month and I've been horrified at what it's cost. Fortunately due to their savings it's not financially been a problem but I can see how it could be. All in the funeral, plus meal, plus headstone are going to be £6000.

    First off have a will and enduring/welfare/continuing power of attorneys. If you're likely to pay inheritance tax then plan for that now.

    The more organised your affairs are the easier it becomes for people dealing with things. Do you know where your birth/marriage certificates are? Are your bank books, statements etc filed away. Does the person who's likely to be dealing with this know where to find them. Do you have an address book? Keep it uptodate to make it easier for the people who have the task of phoning round friends and family about your death and funeral arrangements. BTW make these calls after you've sorted out when the funeral is - it saves making double the calls, saves money, time and stress.

    Here's my list of tips so far, some of it's about forward planning and some is just things I've discovered in the last few weeks:
    1. If you're a couple make sure all the money isn't in just one persons name. Having the savings split between you, or in joint account makes things much easier for while things are settling down eg in Scotland it takes 6 months before you can distribute the estate.
    2. State pensions/benefits. When you register the death you're given a form to send off regarding this. Send it off ASAP, nothing will happen until it gets to them. You may be entitled to a pension increase based on your partner's NI contributions. If you're younger you may still be entitled to either a bereavement allowance. Due to the change in circumstances are pension credits a possibility?
    3. Work pensions. Write to them ASAP again. There may either be death benefits or again a spousal pension.
    4. Tax man - again this is more for older people who still get the married couples allowance. You keep this for the tax year of their death, but you may want to redistribute it that year so the surviving partner gets the unused portion. After that it's gone so you may start paying tax. Tax efficient savings become much more important then, so even non-tax payers who might end up in this situation should make use of their ISA allowance now.
    5. Council tax - are they now the only person in the house eligible for council tax? 25% discount available. Depending on their circumstances they may also now qualify of Council Tax Benefit.
    6. Some organisations are horrible to deal with, some are great. YMMV. I've come off the phone to one company in particular in tears after a hideous phone call with an offshore call centre. Many banks offer a dedicated bereavement team eg Bank of Scotland which may make it easier for your relatives. Does your bank?
    With regards the funeral we wanted to organise things pretty quickly due to the circumstances, so weren't able to shop around. I don't feel we overpaid but the one thing I would advise is to check the invoice when you receive it. It may be the last thing you feel like doing, but mistakes happen. We were overcharged £133, which was quickly corrected when I pointed it out. Don't overly stress yourself about having everything perfect - no one will care except you.

    Saturday funerals cost more.

    We also found that our local paper gives you a 50% discount on acknowledgements if you've used them for the death notice - that saved £80.

    Lairs cost money, so let people know if there is already a family lair that could be used for burial. Make sure the registration of this is uptodate, ie it's not still registered to someone who has already died - getting this changed can take time. Some lairs may expire as well - check this out.

    Sorry if it's not very structured.
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