Death. It’s a fact of life, yet it remains a taboo topic, which makes things hard for relatives who are left to sort out finances and possessions when they lose a loved one.
Roughly 600,000 people in the UK die every year. But in 2020 we saw one of the highest rates of additional deaths, compared with any other country.
To put a figure on it, almost 80,000 more people died last year. And these additional deaths have highlighted delays and inefficiencies in the UK probate system.
So far, 129,000 people have died because of Covid-19. And although the vaccine rollout is helping to reduce the number of deaths, the pandemic is far from finished with us yet.
The pandemic is far from finished
Authorities warn that the next flu season will be worse. There are also concerns surrounding delayed diagnoses and medical treatments not sought during lockdown restrictions. This could cause further deaths, which might otherwise have been avoided.
With the increased number of deaths, thousands more families face the onerous task of having to deal with the financial affairs of their loved one and manage the distribution of their assets.
Facing a pile of potentially unfamiliar financial paperwork to sort through at an already emotionally stressful time must be an almost unbearable problem for many.
Dealing with a loved one’s financial affairs can cause mental health issues
It’s little surprise that research suggests 40% of bereaved people suffer mental health issues because of the stress of dealing with the financial aspect of a death. And around half of UK adults don’t have a will, which makes life for those left behind even harder.
An individual can choose up to four executors to deal with their affairs when they die. While executors can include someone with relevant professional experience, the task often falls to those closest to them.
And so people with little experience must then take on difficult and time-consuming tasks such as:
- Finding relevant paperwork
- Applying for authority to deal with matters
- Closing bank and savings accounts
- Cashing in investments
- Dealing with pension, protection, mortgage, and investment providers
- Settling debts and tax bills.
If a client dies without a will, getting things sorted out can be even more difficult.
Losing someone you love can be overwhelming
Losing someone you love can be overwhelming. Add a pile of paperwork, bureaucracy, bills, and unfamiliar investments to the mix and there’s little wonder it causes mental health issues in two in five of those bereaved.
With limited experience of the issues involved or probate process, it can be a lot for family and friends to deal with.
Taking care of the sometimes complicated financial affairs of a loved one can be upsetting, and a complex and unfamiliar legal process is the last thing anyone needs when they are grieving.
A financial planner can help ease the burden
A lack of experience in dealing with all this may not be a massive problem if the paperwork is all up to date. But, according to a report in the Independent, “barely half the population has financial affairs in order at the time of their death”.
And legal professionals are all too aware of the problems. 88% think probate is “slow and inefficient”, and more than half believe the time it takes is unreasonable.
Introduce your clients to us and we can help ease the burden on their loved ones when they pass away.
When we meet clients, we take a holistic approach to their financial situation. This could involve ensuring they have adequate protection in place, saving for the future and their retirement years, gifting money to children and grandchildren, and leaving a legacy behind.
Estate planning is an important part of the work we do for all our clients. We will ensure your clients have an up to date will which reflects their wishes. We will help establish a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), to give them peace of mind that should they no longer be able to make financial decisions themselves, someone they trust can take care of things.
We also look at ways to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax your client’s loved ones may be liable for. Planning for the transfer of wealth is one of the things we can do to make the paperwork easier when the time comes.
An important aspect of our work is to involve the family in financial planning conversations at an appropriate time. We encourage all our clients to keep a detailed record of their investments, insurance or financial protection they have, where they keep their will or LPA, and a list of names and contact numbers for their financial planner, solicitor, and accountant.
This small act alone can help reduce the administrative burden on those left behind.
All the work we do ensures that clients have plans in place to help their executors understand what needs to be done and how to deal with everything. Involving family in our financial planning meetings is a large part of helping with this, but we don’t stop there.
We’ll help your clients navigate the IHT rules and avoid costly mistakes by working through each estate planning step.
Dealing with an inheritance
Many executors will have to deal with the distribution of assets. They may also be the ones to inherit property, pensions, or investment.
If so, they will almost certainly receive advice on how to handle their inheritance. This, when they are in a vulnerable emotional state, could lead to making rash decisions they later regret.
By being involved in their loved one’s financial planning prior to their passing, they are less likely to make a poor decision and already know how best to handle their windfall. Not only that, but they’ll already have all the information required about how their decision could affect their personal tax position and potentially change their lives for the better.
And all with less stress than might otherwise be the case.
Get in touch
If you have a client who needs help to organise their financial affairs, make a will, or arrange a trust or power of attorney, we can help them and their loved ones. Email email@example.com, or call 01904 655 330.