The time to make plans is when we are healthy and thinking clearly about the future. So what can you do now in order to prepare for the unexpected?

Here is a short list to help you:

1. Sort out your paperwork – Would your family know where to find important documents related to your finances, health care, and personal information and assets? Most people have a number of investments including, bank accounts, life-insurance policies, stocks, shares and bonds. Making a list with information about your investments and accounts helps your family locate these assets.

If you own your own business as the sole trader or in partnership with others or shares in a limited company, you should have a plan for succession. Important business documents should be kept separately. Read about Wills for Business Owners

2. Make a Will – to ensure that your estate property and money goes to the people that you want it to go to.

If you do not make a Will then the law decides who inherits your estate. Without a will, if you have a spouse, the first £250,000 of your estate and any personal possessions go to them, anything above that can be claimed by children or grandchildren. If you do not have a spouse, your estate goes to your other relatives in a certain order. If you do not have any surviving relatives your whole estate goes to the Crown.

3. Before making a Will think about:

  • What your estate is worth take into account the value of any property (including property abroad) and other assets you have such as savings, investments, shares, insurance policies as well as your share of any joint assets.
  • Choosing your executors. Your executors are responsible for administering your estate after your death and carrying out the provisions of your will and so it needs to be someone you trust. It is usually desirable to appoint at least two executors so that if one dies before you there is still someone available to act. There is no reason why you should not appoint one or more of the beneficiaries as executors provided they are over the age of 18. Particular care should be taken when selecting executors who may have to administer a continuing trust.
  • Choosing guardians for minor children. Guardians and executors need not be the same persons. Your guardians will be responsible for the care of your children while they are under the age of 18. Your executors will be primarily written consent with the financial aspects of your estate.
  • Any gifts of money or any personal items that you would like to leave to an individual or a charity
  • How the rest of your estate is to be divided. The Names and addresses of the beneficiaries, what percentage they should receive and what would happen to their share if they die before you.

4. Set out your funeral wishes – it is important to make your wishes known to your loved ones for example whether you want to be buried or cremated. You can include your wishes in your will or you can leave a letter specifying the arrangements for your family to follow. You may wish to consider putting a funeral plan in place and discussing your plans with your chosen funeral directors

5. Keep your will up-to-date – Wills are governed by such factors as the size and nature of your estate and the circumstances of your family and other persons whom you wish to benefit. Wills are usually drafted to be effective for many years. However you should review your Will every 2 to 3 years to take into account changes in personal and financial circumstances and legislation.

State whether you wish to be an organ donor – if you want to donate your organs after death you should make your wishes known discussing this with family and friends to let them know what you want makes it easier for them. You can also join the NHS Organ Donor Register.