Planning for death - forum discussion

edited 16 October 2012 at 1:44PM in Deaths, Funerals & Probate
105 replies 38.9K views


  • The Free Wills Month scheme (running now) may be the most beneficial to the selected charities - called today at local participating solicitor who said they only charge the selected charity £20 for a simple will (compared with the £90 odd charged under the national November scheme for instance). Not sure if this low charge is standard - if so, perhaps it's worth drawing attention to it in your guidance.
  • van22663van22663 Forumite
    196 Posts
    My Dad died very suddenley last month. He had arranged a funeral plan with Jennings 10 months earlier so the actual funding was not an issue although there were extras like the flowers, order of service etc. Also Dad had bought a cremation plot several years earlier for my downs syndrome brother, mum & dad but I had to pay £249 to get the grave opened (hole dug a foot in other words !) Also the casket for the ashes was £87 plus the expenses for the wake. None of this was a problem because Barclays transferred the money straight to the funeral directors. Dad also had made a will so that was straightforward. The only thing I would say is that even though Dad had paid for a funeral plan, he had not left any instructions on exactly what he would have liked for the funeral. I had a fair idea but I would say to anyone who has family, please leave a few details on hymms, flowers, charities you would like donations to go to just makes a stressful time a little easier.
    I also had several copies of Dads death certificate, they were only £3 each but alot of places would only accept the originals. I found the bereavement centre very helpful too, they advised several legal departments such as dvlc, pensions, hmrc etc with just one email.
    Also if you are doing a funeral plan, make sure that you have organised a grave or cremation plot, unless you are having ashes scattered, plots can cost £800 upwards . I hope my experience has been useful.
  • I lost my husband suddenly this year and it was an absolute godsend that he left his life insurance in trust. Often it is just an extra form to complete when the policy is set up, and sometimes (although not always the case) some banks etc don't highlight it when the policy is set up.

    Compared to leaving your life cover benefit in your will or through intestacy (the complex rules that apply when there is no will), a trust will give you greater certainty and benefits.

    Here are some points you may wish to consider:

    Immediate payment on your policy...A Life Cover claim is made at a stressful time for the family with both emotional and administration issues to be taken on board. A trust can pay the life cover benefit to the trustees to pay the money over to a beneficiary straight away so that their financial position remains sound and they can focus on the future. If the policy were not under trust then there would be a delay in payment until probate, when the will is deemed to be valid, or letters of administration are obtained where there is no will. This can often take up to six months.
    Reducing your Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability...When you write your policy in trust your premiums are known as gifts for inheritancetax purposes and can usually be covered by generous exemptions. The proceeds will not form part of your estate, where inheritance tax becomes payable on assets over £325,000 (tax year 2011/2012).

    I hope this helps.
  • edited 27 November 2012 at 12:56PM
    MrsCautiousMrsCautious Forumite
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    edited 27 November 2012 at 12:56PM
    I'd like to add some elements of my experience as someone in their early 40s who has lost their husband, I hope this may be useful to someone. Although some of what I say here is concerned with after someone dies, I hope it sheds light on what should be done before too, it's not something we had thought about as much as we possibly should have.

    One of the things I would like to add, as someone who lost their beloved husband far, far too young, is that you should manage your expectations of how long all the financial stuff takes once you are in the unfortunate position of sorting it out, acknowledge it will be stressful and be kind to yourself.

    I have found the responsibility of dealing with this a crushing weight that has kept me awake at night, combined with the aching grief of losing someone you love, it's a powerful force which can knock you for six. Take things slowly and one day at a time, an hour at a time if you need it.

    Find out about solicitors, be clear on what their role is, rather than like me, having some woolly notion that you will "need their help." Find out about their cost structures, how they work and charge and what expected costs for assisting are likely to be. Find out how long it takes them to sort out probate with previous or existing clients and carefully consider how much of this you could do yourself. Be realistic. I think had I known this stuff, I would have been much better equipped to deal with it all.

    For example, I have sorted all pensions paperwork and money owing myself, it has been complicated and stressful but ultimately rewarding and I know my husband would be proud of me. A solicitor offered to look into all of this but I was concerned by how much this would cost.

    If you are diagnosed with a terminal illness, research whether any life assurance you have with an endowment/mortgage provider will pay out early. The same goes for occupational pensions -- where there is a diagnosis of a terminal illness and life expectancy is very limited they may have a clause allowing them to pay out early -- we acquired a consultant's letter confirming my husband had months to live but sadly he died days later.

    Six months on, I am still waiting for news of probate being granted. A very kind friend who is a solicitor was helping me with this but unfortunately was taken ill themselves, I opted to take it on and avoid further charges. Again, I feel it is the right thing to do now, I am stronger and for me, it's the right thing. There's excellent advice in different threads here about doing it yourself but professional advice must be key for most people.

    This may sound such a ridiculously simple thing to say but I would also point out that you need to write everything down when you are given information through contacting the various bodies/financial institutions and keep it in the same place, with certificates needed. I have found that becoming absent minded and forgetful is a symptom of grief and have spent far too long looking for my marriage certificate this week -- when I know I had it three weeks ago! I'm going to have to bite the bullet and pay for a new one, to change my name on my driving licence (we married shortly before my husband died after 16 years together.)

    When it comes to your mortgage, if you have a life assurance payout, then you really need to carefully consider the current economic climate and possible future outlook. Like most people I think, I have always believed that paying off your mortgage is the right thing to do. However, this may not be the right course of action -- carefully consider what type of mortgage you have and the interest you are paying, at what rate -- if you can get a better rate in a savings account, by the time the date of when you should pay off your mortgage, you may have made more money on top. I used the mortgage repayment calculator here, it was a genuine education for me.

    There's a general perception that you shouldn't take any big decisions within a year of a bereavement and I think that's a good thing to remember when dealing with savings and investments, I'm not saying don't invest or save but somehow you need to be confident you have made the right decision -- even down to whether you should put money into a one, three or five-year bond -- I have found I am obsessing over things a little and am very grateful for the advice and support of an IFA who first came to see us before my husband died. He will talk to me further down the line about investment opportunities but for now he has been a good support.

    This may also be a time when you find out for the first time in your life you are eligible for benefits -- Widowed Parents' Allowance for example or Tax Credits due to the loss of your partner's income. These are up for reform but still exist for the time being, some are taxable and others aren't -- again it's a lot to take in -- so recognise your achievement in getting to the bottom of it all. Macmillan and CAB may be able to help.

    Lastly, I hope it's okay to point out, that I don't think you should feel nervous or embarrassed about citing a recent bereavement in any correspondence with relevant bodies/businesses. For example, I closed a credit card and refused to pay interest after they chased for a payment which was a day late. I also successfully challenged a parking ticket as on the day in question, when I didn't notice a particular sign, I was on another planet.
  • floss2floss2 Forumite
    8K Posts
    Something else to consider: talk to your loved ones now about what THEY want, so when the time comes you don't have to guess. You probably won't have the ability to make any rational decision at that time.

    For example, I have no idea what music my DH would want, or where he'd want his ashes scattered and if he was taken suddenly then he would have to be happy with my decisions. Because we had a grandparent's terminal illness to deal with when in their teens, my sons & I have consequently had vital but entertaining discussions about my funeral music choices, what I want and where I want my cremation to be held.

    I have now told DH where he'll be scattered, and he's OK with my choice ;)
  • sparrersparrer Forumite
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    I arranged my funeral today so my children don't have the hassle. My daughter came with me so she's fully au fait with the arrangements, and made some valuable input of he own.

    On advice of another poster I chose to go to a small local funeral director and was more than pleased with the price I've been quoted, certainly less than some of the 'chain' FD's.

    To keep costs down I opted for no limousines. Everyone these days has a car and most will meet at the crem anyway so it's an unnecessary expense (and I don't think anyone will be grieving so much they'll be incapable of driving!) The coffin is cardboard, decorated with daffodils which is one of my favourite flowers :).

    With office hours viewing, a lineage notice in 2 newspapers, music arrangements, a contribution towards disbursements - the celebrant (a bit of a misnomer for someone conducting a funeral!), crematorium etc., - the cost is under £2,500. I'm more than happy with that, I expected it to be £3000 +, so there's something left to pay for a wake afterwards.

    I can't tell you the relief I feel at having got this out of the way. I have no intention of popping off for a very long time so it ensures that regardless of inflation the children won't have to find a large sum of money, and they know now just what I want and what the FD takes care of. I'd recommend anyone to do it for the peace of mind and to help the family or whoever would otherwise have to make all the arrangements when they'll have enough to do at that time.

    Now to get the will done....:)
  • MojisolaMojisola Forumite
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    sparrer wrote: »
    On advice of another poster I chose to go to a small local funeral director and was more than pleased with the price I've been quoted, certainly less than some of the 'chain' FD's.

    What security do they offer for your money? Is it safe if the company goes out of business? Who would your funeral plan get passed on to?
  • sparrersparrer Forumite
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    Mojisola wrote: »
    What security do they offer for your money? Is it safe if the company goes out of business? Who would your funeral plan get passed on to?

    'The money from your plan is invested in a whole life assurance policy with Ecclesiastical Life Ltd. Ecclesiastical is authorised by the Financial Services Authority and covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.'

    I wondered about going out of business and the lady we spoke to brought it up before I could ask - she assured me the plan can be passed to any other funeral director who is a member of the NAFD, whether the original company goes out of business or one moves from the original area. For further info see the Perfect Choice website, sorry I can't do links. hth
  • As sole executor to mums estate ,dad died many yrs ago and some people may think this is being hard but consider leaving the executor a sum of money for there time as they put in quite a bit of time in there role AND after all if a solicitor was employed there would be less money for the benificaries.Remember that although the executor can claim there expenses they can't claim for there time.
  • Icey77Icey77 Forumite
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    Following my Dads death 6 years ago my Mum has set up a savings account which my sister and I are additional signatories to. The account requires 2 out of the 3 signatures to withdraw cash.

    This is so that there is money readily available to pay for her funeral when the time comes.

    I think my grandmother has taken an similar step too.
    Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re probably right ~ Henry Ford
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