They say the only inevitabilities in life are death and taxes, yet we discuss one more often and with more passion than the other. Admittedly, death is not a particularly nice topic to discuss and many people are scared or uncomfortable talking about it, but why?
The biggest irony is that people feel scared or uncomfortable talking about death because of the general uncertainty surrounding it, but, if you take the time to have the tough conversations you can actually remove a lot of the uncertainty.
You may not believe there is life after death, you might believe in re-carnation or heaven, or you might not be sure what exactly you think about the great beyond, but it doesn’t matter. Regardless of your position on what may happen to you, you can be certain of what will happen to your loved ones, if you just take the time to plan.
What uncertainty means to your love ones
Disagreements often arise because your family don’t know what you really would have wanted, and you are no longer there to ask. It can be very difficult having these discussions with your loved ones directly, so if you are unable to do so that is perfectly understandable but you should at least talk to someone; priest, friend, your friendly Wills & Probate lawyer.
If disputes arise between your family after you are gone then it could prove costly, both financially and in terms of broken relationships. Given the choice, I am sure you would rather have the slightly uncomfortable experience of talking about it than suffer the worst case scenario; after all, we grin-and-bear-it all the time with dental appointments, medical tests and even MOTs, so why not this?
Ways to make it easier to discuss
One approach is to imagine that your Will won’t be needed for another 50+ years. Some Clients find it easier to visualise themselves as very elderly, their children and grandchildren all grown up, before they can talk about their affairs easily. We certainly hope that the Will isn’t needed for a very long time, but it can’t do any harm to be prepared.
Another approach is to view it as more of an opportunity to effectively tax plan. You might already be used to meeting or talking with an accountant or financial advisor, so why not add your lawyer to the list? They can often give you some very practical advice to minimise the impact of Inheritance Tax on your Estate and will even remind you to update your nominations or preferences on life policies and pensions etc.
Alternatively, you might just view it as an opportunity to save your loved ones some hassle after you are gone by taking care of as much as possible while you can. One last ‘I’m here for you’ that you can give them.
The end result
I am not ashamed to say that a lot of my clients admit they did not want to come and see me at first, but they always leave saying that they are glad and even relieved that they did. In some cases, I can the see the weight visibly lift from their shoulders at the end of a meeting: they know who will look after the children, that funds are available for them but responsibly managed, that their spouse will financially secure etc.
You too could rid your mind of those nagging concerns and ‘what ifs’ if you just take the time and start talking about death, in a similar way that you do for your taxes: it is a necessary negative of life, some losses for which we can mitigate with proper planning in advance.
A Will is so much more than just a piece of paper, it is your peace of mind.
If you would like to book a free initial consultation to discuss your Will with one of our specialist solicitors please call us on 01753 486 777.
Or, if you have any questions, or have a topic you would like me to cover in the series then send me an email at email@example.com.