Estates: What do I do when someone close dies?

Like most people, this is something that I have experienced personally on several occassions. Everyone says that when someone dies, “its a difficult time” – it is, but having just read a link from a follower on Twitter, clearly there are some organisations that are actually making life coping with death even harder. I’m fully aware that this is a morbid topic, invariably one that is met with humour, but of course it is deeply personal, highly sensitive and one that we all have to address.

Most of us do not get to time to organise our final farewells, but some do, this is perhaps the one of the few positives from a mortal illness or disease. However that doesn’t lessen the pain or the very real experience that “money” isn’t top of the to-do list. In fact in my experience with clients, “money” is never at the top of any “to-do” list. As you may know I like to draw connections with movies, I can only say that the WH Auden poem read at the funeral in “Four Weddngs and a Funeral” captures something of grief that few movies achieve.

Order, comfort and relief

One of the elements of service that a good financial planner brings is a sense of order to finances. Personally I favour simplicity and as people get older they tend to want less nuance, preferring something that is very easy to monitor and manage. Having your financial details available for you and your potential beneficiaries readily available is a genuine relief. Clarity of what you have, where it is and who needs to be spoken to is hugely undervalued. Just pause for a moment and ask yourself if you would value this now? who knows where all your important “stuff” is? Is it difficult even for you to remember what you have?

Reviewing your Will and ensuring that the Executors know their responsibilities (and can be helped with them) undoubtedly makes grief much less burdened by the practicalities of “the aftermath”. Its odd that only yesterday I was on a training day about Trusts – which when used properly can really help with estate planning, but naturally requires quite a lot of forward planning, but whether you need a Trust or not, the questions posed about your own death and how your estate and affairs are to be managed are applicable to most people. Whenever someone dies their estate needs “settling” which means giving an accurate account to all connected parties, including HMRC and the dreaded Probate and inheritance tax forms.

May I suggest that you read this personal article by Victoria Bischoff, a journalist at the Daily Mail who writes movingly and succinctly about the problems that she and her family faced despite her mother’s highly organised affairs. The link is here. I have been through the process personally and am aware of how what should be simple, becomes unnecessarily difficult.

Dominic Thomas
Solomons IFA

You can read more articles about Pensions, Wealth Management, Retirement, Investments, Financial Planning and Estate Planning on my blog which gets updated every week. If you would like to talk to me about your personal wealth planning and how we can make you stay wealthier for longer then please get in touch by calling 08000 736 273 or email