End-of-Life Planning: 13 Things to Do Before You Die

It is important to have a strategy in place in case of your death. If you have delayed on deciding who will receive what, this article will help you get going in the right direction.

When Prince died in 2016, he joined a lengthy list of stars who left behind no will, leaving loved ones with the monumental task of settling his affairs. While your estate might not be the size of a pop star's, it is still important to have a strategy in place in case of your death.

Together with implementing your wishes, you have to make sure others know and understand them. If you have delayed on deciding who will receive what, this article will help you get going in the right direction

Make an inventory of your physical things

Start with a list of everything you own that is worth £100 or more. These items may be inside or outside of your household.

Examples include the house itself, tv sets, jewelry, collectibles, vehicles, antiques and art, computers/laptops, lawn mower, power tools and so forth.

Make a non-physical items inventory

Start adding up your non-tangible items. These include things you have on paper or other entitlements which may be collectable upon your death.

Examples include trading accounts, bank accounts or life insurance policies.

Build a list of debts

This involves creating a separate list for credit cards and other outstanding debt obligations. Good practice would be to conduct a free credit report at least once every year. It will determine any credit cards you might have forgotten you have.

Make a list of memberships

If you belong to certain organisations like the local gym, golf club, a school alumni group, create a list of those. Include any other charitable organizations which you support or make contributions.

Review retirement and pension accounts

Pension don’t automatically ‘sort themselves out’ when someone passes away. It is possible that your spouse or another beneficiary could benefit. However, the amount claimed depends on the type of pension. It is worth noting what type of pension you have.

Update your insurance

Life insurance and annuities may also pass by contract, depending on what policy you have, it is extremely important you contact all life insurance companies where you hold policies to ensure that your beneficiaries are listed correctly and up-to-date.

Assign transfer-on-death (TOD) designations

Probate is a process in which resources are distributed per court ruling, which is time-consuming and costly. Assets bequeathed in a will go through probate, as do resources if someone dies intestate. However, lots of accounts like bank savings, certificate of deposit accounts, and individual brokerage accounts are unnecessarily probated daily. Instead, they may be set-up or amended using a transfer on death feature (abbreviated to TOD on the account name) to avoid the probate procedure. Get in touch with your custodian or bank to set up this on your account.

Draft a Will

Everyone over age 18 should have a Will. This will determine the distribution of your assets and will give your family clarity as to your wishes when you pass away.

Make sure your Will is signed and dated, has two witness signatures and has been notorised. Keep the original in a safe location, and make sure other folks know where it is.

Pick a responsible estate administrator

Your estate administrator or executor will be responsible for administering your Will in case of your death. It's imperative that you pick an individual who's responsible and in a great mental state to make decisions. Do not immediately assume that your partner is the ideal option. Consider all qualified people and how emotions linked to your passing will affect this individual's decision-making ability.

Send copies of your Will to the executor of your Will

Once your Will is finalised, signed, witnessed and notarised, you will want to be certain that the executor of your Will receives a copy. You also need to keep a copy: we recommend you store it using SecureTheFile.

Keep in mind that, even though it's possible to make copies, only the first Will – the "wet signature" copy, in estate-planning lingo -- can be submitted for probate.

Regularly review your documents

Ensuring your documents are kept up-to-date is essential, particularly in the case of any major life events such as marriage or divorce. Inventory changes as rapidly.

Visit a financial planner

Although you might believe you've covered all paths, it is always a great idea to have a complete investment and insurance coverage and advice.

As you get older, life throws new curveballs at you, like figuring out if you want long-term care insurance and protecting your property from a big tax bill or lengthy court procedures. Professionals are also up-to-date on changes in law and income/estate tax legislation, which might impact your bequests. You may have to restructure your holdings.


While none of us likes to think about dying, the simple fact of the matter is that improper or no preparation may cause family disputes, assets moving into the wrong hands, long court litigations and enormous taxation bills paid unnecessarily.