Preparing in advance for death or permanent disablement of a loved one is an unpleasant thought, but can only be of benefit when something does happen, notes Christel Botha, fiduciary services manager at Alexander Forbes. Death is inevitable, so planning for it should be a priority, she says.
Natural or unexpected, your death can place a massive administrative burden on your loved ones long after you have passed if you do not have your financial affairs in order, Botha said.
Having a ‘ready to depart’ file with all the necessary documentation and information needed in the event of your passing will assist your family with access to your will, living will, passwords and title deeds for example – having all of these documents in a single file or folder allows for ease of reference and access during what is probably an extremely emotional and stressful time for them.
In the event of an emergency or death the following documents are crucial to include in your personal ‘ready to depart’ file, which can be kept in a safe or filed with your lawyer for safe keeping while you are alive:
- The contact details of your lawyer, insurance broker, financial advisers, doctors and tax consultants all of whom need to be notified when you pass away
- A copy of your will and your living will (communicating your desire not to be kept on life support)
- Medical information and history for yourself and other dependent family members
- Unabridged birth certificates for each member of the family
- Your ID book or card and Driver’s license
- Your Marriage certificate
- Should you have one, a copy of your ante nuptial contract
- In the case of being divorced, copies of any divorce and maintenance agreements
- In the event that you are widowed, certified copy of your late partners’ death certificate as well as information of the executor who attended to the deceased estate of your deceased partner
- The most updated tax assessment for both yourself and your partner
- Passwords or pins for phones, computers and bank accounts, encrypted using an app like LastPass to keep them safe.
- Bank details – cheque, credit card, vehicle finance, bond and call accounts
- A list of debit orders that go off every month, when they go off and how much they usually are
- Your current employer details and employee number
- A comprehensive list of insurance, pension funds, trusts and investments
- Copies of insurance and funeral policies as well as contact information to reach the insurance company
- Copies of lease agreements between you and a lessee
- Copies of house and car insurance policies
- Medical aid and gap cover policies
- Copies of updated utility documents
- Firearm details
- Car ownership documentation
- Title deeds of all your properties (if you have a bond over the property, the title deed should be with the bank)
- Various documents if you own a business or shares of a company, such as partnership agreements
- Letters for desired funeral arrangements
“While extensive, this list is not entirely comprehensive as no two individuals are alike or have the same policies and as such it is important to start the conversation with a financial adviser or legal professional to make sure your personal “ready to depart” file is regularly updated before you pass away,” Botha said.