Things to do before you die.

This is not my normal type of post, but I thought after all the events of the last year it was an important one, so here goes:

Most of us will know or have heard of a bucket list. This is a list of things we want to do before we die or colloquially, “kick the bucket”.

But do we ever give thought to the mess we leave behind for the people we say we love.

The greatest gift you can give your family is to work through the post below, preparing for death so that when the times come the family can focus on grieving and not having to spend all there time and energy trying to sort out the mess you left behind.

The good thing about this, if you get all your family to do this then it means you wont be left with the mess if perchance you are not the first one to go.

I would recommend you print this off and cross out each one as you do them.

I live in Western Australia so these are what are appropriate for here, you may need to make modifications for the country or the state you live in, but if you start with these you will be well on your way to getting everything sorted.

Before Death

Ring a lawyer if you live in another state or country and ask what documents you need to have such as will, enduring power of attorney, enduring guardianship. We thought we had everything covered with the Power of Attorney but when we checked with a lawyer they said we also needed Guardianship for medical matters, the laws had changed two years ago and we would have been in a pickle if we hadnt discovered this in time. Everyone I have spoken to since then did not know about the need for this, so it is worth a quick phone call.

  1. Make a current will that is witnessed by people whose address you know now. (see generic will form here)
  2. Also have Enduring Power of Attorney (for financial matters) (see  generic power of attorney and guardianship here)
  3. And Guardianship (for medical matters).(see link above)
  4. Also list and give to the person who you give guardianship what your wishes are re end of life. Do you want to be resuscitated, it so when yes and when no. Do you want to be left on life support, if so for how long?
  5. If you feel you can make a living will or a Health Directive, this just sets in place what choices you want made medically, so that everyone knows your wishes, including the doctors. You can download health directives, look for one for your country and state.
  6. Make sure you have Binding Death Nominations on any super or pension accounts. This is very important as it does not automatically go to who you have nominated, it doesn’t even go to your spouse, your children are offered it first, this takes time and can cause big rifts in families so fix it now.
  7. Put all documents in a folder with your will and have this folder in a fire proof safe or in the bank. Make sure your executor also has a copy of everything and knows where the original is stored. If you have a safe make sure someone apart from you and your partner have the combination in case you both die together.
  8. Do this for yourself and your partner and for anyone that you are executor for before they die.

Go to

https://ecourts.justice.wa.gov.au/ProbateOnlineForms/

Open an account and fill in the details for each person. At the end you can save it, it doesn’t send it anywhere, to send it you have to download it, print it out, get it witnessed by a JP and then post it.

When you are grieving you do not want to be sorting all these details out. Also it helps the estate to be settled quicker making it easier for the surviving party.

Have a list of all assets in the estate and list whether they are held in the state you live in or elsewhere. If shares or super then it is where the head office of the company that holds these is.

If it is a spouse doing the probate, you don’t have to list any joint assets as these automatically go to the surviving party and are not considered part of the estate. I would list all the joint assets on a separate piece of paper in the event that both you and your partner die together. Also list any superannuation that has a binding nomination as they will need to be contacted upon your death.

If you have a binding death nomination on your super funds or pension funds then again this does not form part of the estate.

Info you will need to complete the online application. Fill in all the details you can and the others will be filled in once you have passed. Once complete place a copy with your will and give a sealed copy to your executor.

Exact date of death:

Place of Death:

Suburb:

State:

Postcode:

Country:

Given names of deceased:

Surname of deceased:

Date of birth:

Last known Occupation:

Last address of deceased:

Address from Will:

Alias if one was used:

Address for service: (this is the address of the executor)

Date of the will:

Witness details: Full name:

Address:

List details of immovable property owned by deceased: House if not in joint name:

Description:

Full value:

Type of ownership: ie shared tenants in common, totally owned by deceased.

 

Details of Movable property: ie shares, super, bank accounts, motor vehicles, furniture and personal effects.

For bank accounts:

Name of Bank or institution:

the branch:

name and type of account:

account number:

balance as at the date of death.

 

Name of Bank or institution:

the branch:

name and type of account:

account number:

balance as at the date of death.

 

 

Name of Bank or institution:

the branch:

name and type of account:

account number:

balance as at the date of death.

 

Name of Bank or institution:

the branch:

name and type of account:

account number:

balance as at the date of death.

 

List all debts

Description:

Creditor:

Full value:

Type of ownership:

(Remember to include credit cards)

 

Description:

Creditor:

Full value:

Type of ownership:

If you are unsure of any of this as you are filling it out, make a note of it and ask a lawyer or citizens advice bureau to clarify it for you. Look here first https://www.slatergordon.com.au/wills/assets-not-controlled-will

 

Things to do.

Ask the bank you are with what happens to joint accounts if one person dies, also ask about credit cards, especially if one of you is the credit card holder and the other has a supplementary card.

I know that with ANZ the joint accounts revert to the surviving party and are able to be fully accessed. I am unsure about other banks and financial institutions.

Start a notebook for each person to be placed with their wills and place all the above information in it, as well as,

What they want to wear to their funeral:

Do they want to be buried or cremated:

If buried, where do they want to be buried:

If cremated where do they want their ashes:

Where would they like a plaque:

What songs would they like

What is your favorite flower and colour

Who would they like to conduct the service:

What memento would you like to give people: ie bookmark, order of service, stubby holder etc

Who would they like to do the eulogy:

{Get together with the person doing the eulogy, while you are alive and fill them in on some details of your life, especially the childhood years or the years before you met your current partner. If there if anything in particular you want included or excluded, mention this then}

If you don’t want to do this then get your partner to write a eulogy for you and you write one for them. You can then read each one and correct anything that is wrong or give more details if necessary.

ALSO

Write a letter to your partner, and/or your children to be sealed and placed with your will to be read after you have gone. This is a great comfort to those left behind.

Organize photos that give a snapshot of your life and put them on a USB stick.

Make a list of people you want contacted when you die and list their phone numbers.

List the dates of any previous marriages and the other persons name and where the marriage took place.

List the name and birthdate of all children.

List tax file number, social security number, your date of birth.

Set up a joint bank account with funeral funds in it, you will need about $4000 each to be paid as a deposit the day after the person has died and then the balance usually within 28 days. As at 2017 average funeral cost is $13,000. If you don’t have these funds available then look at funeral insurance.

Work out what you want done with social media accounts and email accounts. List these with passwords and user names but make sure you keep this in a secure location such as a bank deposit box or a safe.

You can go to settings in Facebook and nominate someone who can Memorialize your account when you die. It is a good way to let the persons friends know what is happening and allows them to leave condolences messages.

Make a list of all social media and email accounts.

Make a list of any online sites you are a paid member of as these will need to be cancelled.

If you have a website, list the details and what fees you have to pay and to whom to keep it active. Who is your web host and who is your domain name listed with.

Do you have a paypal account. If so put the details here and list any automatic payments that come out of your account.

Do you have any online shops or are you an affiliate of any companies, list these.

Do you receive money from Amazon or others for monetizing of your web page, Youtube, company facebook page etc.

List which automatic payments come out of accounts and especially credit cards.

Place all these or copies of them with your will: (Not all will apply, just so what is relevant to you)

Deeds, Titles, and Promissory Notes / Loans

Real Estate Property deeds (including any recent appraisals)

Mortgage documents (including promissory/loan notes)

Other Promissory or Loan notes (including loans owed to the deceased)

Vehicle titles and registrations (car, boat, RV, etc.)

Membership certificates

Insurance Policies

​Life insurance (including premium payment records)

Accidental life insurance

Veterans’ insurance

Employers or pension insurance

Funeral insurance (or other death-related benefit plans)

Mortgage and/or credit insurance

Credit card insurance (for balances)

Health insurance (including Medicare or Medicaid, “Medigap” insurance, private health insurance, dental, and Long Term Care insurance)

Property insurance (homeowners/renters insurance, car insurance, etc.)

Workers’ compensation insurance (and payment records)

Financial Accounts– Including most recent statements for all accounts and the list of Beneficiaries, if any.

Bank accounts – checking, savings, CD’s, etc.

Investment/brokerage accounts, IRA’s, 401-K’s, etc.

Stocks and bonds

Annuities

Credit and debit card accounts

User names and passwords for any online accounts

List of safety deposit boxes, where to find keys, and names of authorized users
Other Financial Records

​​Survivor annuity benefit papers

Employer/retirement benefit (pension) plans, pension/profit-sharing plans, etc.

Veterans’ benefit records

Disability payment documents (State, Veterans’, etc.) Income statements for the current year (Social Security, pension, IRA’s, annuities, employment, and other income records)

IRS income tax returns (for the current and previous year)

IRS gift tax returns (for all years)

Property tax records and statements

Business interests held, financial statements and agreements, contracts, etc.

Loan papers

Other – investment records, etc.
Legal Papers

Will and/or Trusts

Deceased’s Final Instructions, Disposition Authorization, and/or Designated Agent forms (sometimes included in an Advance Directive such as a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, or in a Living Will)

Pre-paid funeral contracts

Organ/tissue donation record

Social Security card (or number)

Birth certificates (of all family members)

Marriage license or certificate

Military service papers, including discharge records

Domestic Partnership Registration

Court documents for adoptions and divorce (including any property settlement agreements, name changes, prenuptial agreements, etc.)

Community Property Agreements

Driver’s license

Passport, citizenship, immigration and/or alien registration papers
Personal Information

Names and contact information of closest family and friends

Names and contact information of all lawyers, accountants, doctors, financial planers, etc.

Family Tree, if available (especially if there is no Will)

User names and passwords for online accounts (including email accounts, financial records, social media accounts, etc.)

Passwords to access computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices

From <http://www.legalvoice.org/after-death-occurs-checklist>

 

Make a list of people you can ring for support after the initial wave of people have left after the funeral.

List any options of places you can go to stay, even if just for a few days, if you need to.

Organize for someone to check in on you each day at least once, preferably twice, once in the morning and once in the evening. You can just text them, “I’m up” ion the morning and “I’m home” in the evening. If you don’t have anyone then Red Cross have a free service where they will ring once a day, so contact them.

Article by Slater and Gordon

In Western Australia, only assets owned by you will pass into your estate and be controlled by your Will.

Jointly owned assets: Ownership of jointly owned property will pass automatically to the other joint owner(s) person upon your death, independent of your Will, if owned as joint tenants. 

This commonly applies to homes, home contents, bank accounts and personal effects, and other jointly owned assets.

The exception is assets owned jointly as ‘tenants in common’.  A person’s interest in such property will be controlled by their Will.

For planning purposes, joint tenancy can be converted to tenancy in common if appropriate at minimal cost.

Sole ownership:  Assets in your sole name, including real estate, cash, vehicles, shares and units in trusts, will form part of your estate and be controlled by your Will.

Unit trusts and companies: Assets owned by unit trusts or companies controlled by you will not become part of your estate. The shares or units however, will be an asset which forms part of your estate. 

Discretionary trusts: Assets owned by discretionary trusts controlled by you will not become part of your estate. They are owned by the trust.

Life Insurance: The insured person nominates the beneficiary of their policy, often their spouse or family member.

The proceeds of a life policy are paid direct to the beneficiary and do not form part of the deceased estate.

If appropriate for planning purposes, you must nominate your estate as the beneficiary of your policies if you want the proceeds of the policies to pass to your estate and be managed by the terms of your Will.

If the policy is owned by a superannuation fund, the proceeds will be received by the fund. Again the proceeds will not pass through an estate, but rather they will be managed by the trustee of your superannuation fund in accordance with the terms of the fund deed. 

Superannuation: Assets held by a superannuation fund most often pass to a dependant spouse or children, not your estate.

 

From <https://www.slatergordon.com.au/wills/assets-not-controlled-will>

I will do another post on what to do after death, for the person left behind or the executor. (see article here)

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