If the COVID pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that life is short and the unexpected passing of loved ones is a reality many families have had to face. When the unexpected happens it’s a harsh reminder that rather than procrastinate, you need to ensure your affairs are in order.
Steph Bester, CEO of AllLife, says that we are all uncomfortable talking about the passing of a loved one, particularly our own, but we need to be prepared. “If we pass away unexpectedly, what will happen to our children, spouse, or our home? We all think that we’ve got time to make the necessary preparations, but illness and accidents by their very nature can happen at any time.”
He adds that no one wants to place additional stress on their families when they already have so much to deal with emotionally. The best way to avoid that is to ensure that we have put a plan in place so that our loved ones have the necessary resources and can fulfil our wishes, during what will be a difficult time for them.
Whether we are young or old with a lot or little to leave behind, Steph says the planning you do now will make a significant difference to your loved ones in the event of your passing or should you be too ill or injured to speak for yourself. He recommends that you follow these five steps to put an effective plan in place:
Make sure you have a valid Will
Did you know that more than 70% of South Africa’s working population don’t have Wills? This is a legal document that goes into effect when you pass away and allows you to make arrangements during this time, including naming your beneficiaries and guardians for young children, the appointment of power of attorney, the disbursement of investments, saving accounts and retirement funds, as well as instructions regarding the bequeathing of assets. A Will allows you to plan your estate according to your wishes ensuring that the process through which your assets are distributed is relatively painless for those left behind.
Leave a financial gift of life insurance
Everyone needs life insurance. It is one of the best gifts you can ever give your family in the event of your passing as it will provide them with the financial security needed to continue living the life you envisioned for them. It is designed to settle debt and cover expenses apart from securing your loved ones’ financial future. There are many different life cover options available, so almost everyone can find a policy that meets their needs and budget. The important point is that you have life cover to ensure your own and your loved ones’ peace of mind while you are alive.
Update your beneficiaries
Reviewing all your beneficiaries at various intervals is very important when preparing for your eventual passing because, despite any beneficiaries named in your will, those named in your insurance policies will receive the funds. For example, if you took out life cover whilst still single making your siblings the beneficiaries, your insurance pay-out will still go to your siblings when you pass away – even if you subsequently married and have children. That’s why it is critical to review ALL your policies whenever a major life-changing event takes place.
Consider funeral expenses
Funerals are expensive. From a casket to memorial service-related expenses, there are several costs associated with a funeral. No one would want their grieving loved ones to be faced with the burden of little or no resources to cover the cost of a funeral. So, you can either take out funeral cover (highly recommended) or budget what you think your funeral may cost and set that money aside, reviewing it periodically to keep up with inflation.
Keep a legacy file
Whether it’s a hardcopy or electronic, your policy information, Will, banking details and any other important documentation should all be together in one place. Include all your online passwords for your accounts too. Then, make sure that a trusted family member or friend knows where to find everything. Imagine the panic if someone is unable to access those resources because this critical information is not available? You can provide a sense of security for your family by ensuring everything is readily accessible.
Steph advises, “Don’t allow reality, which can be uncomfortable, prevent you from getting your affairs in order. Do yourself (and everyone else that’s important in your life) a favour and take the time to prepare for the journey we are all destined to make.”