Putting your affairs in order

Money Advice Service

Doing what you can to sort out your money before you die can really help those left behind, and can avoid problems at a difficult time.

Step 1 – Make a will

If you haven’t already got a will now is the time to make one.

If you want to make sure that your money and your belongings – your assets – go to the people or charities you want then you need to make this clear in a will.

If you don’t the law will decide who they go to – and this might not be who you want it to be.

Your will tells people who you want to be your executor – the person who sorts out your money and your will after you die.

You can choose more than one person to be your executor, but ideally not more than four.

Professional executors like solicitors or accountants will charge for their services.

If you have children under 18, your will also says who should be legally responsible for looking after them if you die.

If you already have a will then check it to make sure it is up-to-date and think about any changes you want to add or draw up a new will.

Changes to wills have to be made carefully to make sure they are legally recognised.

Read our guide on Changing your will

Step 2 – Get your paperwork together

You know where you keep your paperwork, whether it’s in a file or just a particular drawer – but your executor won’t.

It’s a big help to them if you let them know where you keep important documents such as:

  • Divorce papers
  • Property deeds
  • Bank statements
  • Outstanding bills
  • Insurance policies
  • Credit card statements
  • Mortgage information
  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • Tax certificates such as your P60
  • Details of savings and investments – including: share certificates, Premium Bonds and pension plan statements

If you deal with your bills and bank accounts online then printing out some copies will help.

Don’t put it off

Sorting out your finances in advance can be a really big help to people left behind – and it doesn’t need to be a big job.

It’s also a good idea to make a list of regular payments that will need to be cancelled

For example subscriptions you might have to:

  • Magazines
  • Societies or clubs
  • Breakdown services, or
  • Donations to charities.

If you think it will help, you can also add information about things like when the car or boiler is due for a service and who does it.

Then make sure you let your executor and or your family know where they can find this paperwork.

Step 3 – Let your executor know where your will is

If no-one can find your will it could be ignored.

Make sure your executor and your family know where to find it when they need it so your wishes can be carried out.

Step 4 – Think about clearing your unsecured debts if you can

If you have any unsecured debts – this means debts like credit cards and loans that aren’t secured against your house – then if you can afford it you might want to pay them off.

This simplifies things for your executor, which in turn means that the money and personal gifts you want to leave won’t take so long to get to the people you choose.

Step 5 – Get some help in place in case you need it

If there’s a chance you’ll become too ill to manage your money, it’s a good idea to think ahead about who should be able to do it for you.

It might be especially important to gain quick access to your money for anything from special treatments to family visits.

You can Make informal arrangements with your family or friends to deal with financial institutions on your behalf.

But you might also want to think about a formal arrangement – power of attorney – if you expect there to be a long period where someone else needs to act on your behalf.

By officially giving someone this power they can:

  • Set up accounts (such as savings accounts) on your behalf.
  • Ensure that bills or care fees are paid without you having to worry about them.

You can only make a power of attorney whilst you have mental capacity to do so.

If things have been left too late, then someone has to apply to the court to be appointed as a deputy.

This can be costly and the court might not appoint the person you would have appointed had you had the choice to do so.

So best to get things sorted in good time.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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Key things to remember when using Rest Less Money:

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Accuracy of Information – We try to make sure that all the information provided on Rest Less Money is correct at the time of publishing as we want it to be the most helpful resource possible. Sadly, we are not perfect however, and so we can make no guarantees as to the completeness, accuracy, adequacy or suitability of the information available on the site.
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We hope you find Rest Less Money a useful resource and we would welcome your feedback at [email protected] on how to make it even better. For more information on any of the above you can read our full terms and conditions.

Some important information about Rest Less Money

We want you to understand the positives, but also the limitations of using our site. We operate in a journalistic manner and therefore all information, guidance or suggestions provided are intended to be general in nature, and you should not rely on any of the information on the site in connection with the making of any financial decision.

When we set out to build Rest Less Money, we wanted to be a trusted place where you could find helpful information about financial matters affecting the over 50s. As a free to use resource, we try hard to provide the best information we can, but we cannot guarantee that we won’t occasionally make mistakes. So please note that you use the information on our site at your own risk, and we can’t accept liability if things go wrong.

Key things to remember when using Rest Less Money:

We do not offer financial advice – As a journalistic site, it’s important to know that we do not provide financial advice. You should always do your own research before choosing any financial product so that you can be certain it is right for you and your specific circumstances. If you are in any doubt, please seek professional financial advice from a regulated financial advisor.

No Liability – please note that you use the information on Rest Less Money at your own risk and we can’t accept liability for how you choose to use the information given on our site. We will often provide links to content or products and services available on other third-party websites. These are provided purely for your convenience and we cannot be held responsible for any content, or any of the products and services offered on any website that we link to.

 

Accuracy of Information – We try to make sure that all the information provided on Rest Less Money is correct at the time of publishing as we want it to be the most helpful resource possible. Sadly, we are not perfect however, and so we can make no guarantees as to the completeness, accuracy, adequacy or suitability of the information available on the site.
Whilst we work hard to try and provide accurate information, deals and prices can change, so whilst they may be correct at the time of writing, providers may subsequently decide to alter them later – so always double check first.

A final note on the Rest Less Community Forums – always remember that anyone can post their opinion on the Rest Less Community Forums, so it can be very different from our own opinion and may not be factual or well researched. Always be wary of any content posted on the forums and be sure to do your own research and due diligence on anything suggested. 

We hope you find Rest Less Money a useful resource and we would welcome your feedback at [email protected] on how to make it even better. For more information on any of the above you can read our full terms and conditions.

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