Thinking about your mortality is never easy and bringing up the subject of end-of-life planning with loved ones can be even more difficult.
However, discussing what both you and they might want when the time comes is vital and can provide valuable peace of mind that your wishes will be carried out. It can also help on a more practical level, as it will enable you to think about what sort of financial provision is in place for any dependents when you’re no longer around.
Dying Matters Awareness Week takes place from 2nd to 6th May, and aims to encourage people to open up conversations about death, end of life planning, and dealing with grief.
Why talk about dying?When making major financial decisions, such as taking on a mortgage with your partner, it’s essential to talk about what will happen if one of you dies before the debt is repaid.
How, for example, would one of you manage the payments if the other was no longer around to contribute their share? Similarly, if you have steep childcare costs which one or both of you pay for, what would you do if one of you died leaving the other unable to cover these bills?
Although life insurance won’t make death any easier to come to terms with, making sure you have some financial protection in place can help remove money worries and provide some stability at a distressing time.
This type of cover has evolved in recent years to include more than just a financial benefit on death. Many policies will now pay out on diagnosis of a terminal illness if the policyholder has been given less than 12 months to live. This means that the policyholder can then sort out their affairs as they want, if they are well enough to make these sorts of decisions. Some providers go even further than this. For example, Guardian’s life insurance cover will pay out upon diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer, even if the policyholder’s life expectancy is longer than a year.
Policies often come with other benefits too. A large number of providers offer policyholders and their family a range of support services, which may include grief counselling, nursing support and later life planning. These can prove invaluable if you or your family are struggling to come to terms with a diagnosis and need additional help.
If you’re considering buying life insurance, it’s worth thinking about putting your policy in trust, or nominating a beneficiary. This can ensure that any proceeds from the policy go to the right person or people as quickly as possible, helping keep paperwork and stress to a minimum. Several providers offer a Trust Service or Beneficiary Nomination facility, although you should seek professional advice first to ensure that this option suits your needs.
The importance of writing a willAs well as ensuring you have financial protection in place, it’s also vital to have a will.
This legally binding document outlines who you want to leave your property, money and possessions – known as your ‘estate’ - to when you die, but also enables you to include other important wishes, such as who will be the guardians of your children if you’re no longer around to look after them.
If you die without a will, then intestacy laws apply, which means your estate may not go to who you want it to. It’s especially important to write a will if you have a partner who you’re not married to, as under these laws even if you’ve been with them for many years, they won’t be entitled to anything.