You have reached the stage where you are ready to start planning your estate. You have carefully identified your assets, who you would like to administer your estate (your executors), who should run any trusts created by your Will (your trustees), and who would you like to benefit from your estate (your beneficiaries).
The next step is to make a Will, which is arguably the most important document you will sign during your lifetime. You may also consider signing a Letter of Wishes to sit alongside your Will, which could provide your executors with guidance about how to distribute your estate or provide specific wishes on who you would like to receive your personal possessions.
However, estate planning does not stop at making a Will or preparing a Letter of Wishes. Here are five things you might not otherwise consider when planning your estate:
1. Checking that your life insurance policy has been nominated
When you took out your life insurance policy, you should have nominated who you would like to receive the benefit payable upon your death. If you do not recall doing so, you may not have completed the relevant form which should hopefully have been provided to you by your policy provider. We would suggest contacting the provider to check whether you have nominated the benefit of your policy, and if so, to whom it has been nominated. If you have previously nominated someone, are they still the person or persons who you would like to benefit?
2. Checking that your pension death benefits have been nominated
Similarly, it is important to ensure that any ‘death benefits’ payable under your pensions have been nominated. We would suggest contacting each provider to check whether you have made a nomination, and if so, who you have nominated.
As with your life insurance policy, it is possible to change the persons you would like to benefit.
3. Nominating your death in service benefit
If you are currently working and are not self-employed, you may be covered by your organisation’s death in service policy, which will pay out a lump sum to your loved ones if you die while you are still employed by the organisation.
You will hopefully have nominated the benefit to one or more of your loved ones when you joined the organisation, but it would be wise to check this is up to date when planning your estate.
4. Setting up a joint bank account
If you have a spouse or partner, it is helpful to set up a joint bank account for shared household expenses, such as utility bills, to come out of. In the event of your death, this can save your spouse/partner needing to change direct debits. It will also provide them with immediate access to funds. Sole accounts will be frozen until such time as a Grant of Probate is received, which is likely to be many months after a death.
5. Sharing your passwords
It is generally inadvisable to keep a list of your usernames and passwords for each of your online accounts saved in one location. However, if you have a large number of digital assets, or for example, accounts with valuable information about your assets, you could plan ahead by securely storing details of your usernames and passwords so that your executors can access them after your lifetime.