Here at Angel & Dove we’re passionate advocates of planning for a good death. Now, as we emerge from the cocoon of winter into the clarity of spring, it’s a great time to make sure we’re on track to do just that. That means cleaning up our admin, dusting off our plans and shedding a bit of sunlight on what the future might hold.
Of course few of us can know when or where the last stop on our journey of life will arrive, but doing all we can to prepare will help loved ones when they find themselves trying to navigate through that difficult time.
But where to start? Take these ideas as a simple starting point.
Polish your will
Six in ten British adults don’t have a will, leaving their loved ones unsure what to do with their possessions or property after their death. The best way to avoid disputes is to ensure your wishes are known. It is inexpensive to make a will but the benefits are priceless and in March, adults over 55 can make a will free of charge thanks to Free Wills Month. If you’ve already made one, review it every five years to make sure it still reflects your true wishes.
Photo: Sixteen Miles Out
Inspect your insurance
Providing a financial cushion can ease some of the difficulty around death, whether that’s making plans for an income in case of serious illness or making sure your mortgage would be manageable after you’ve gone. The main insurance options to look into are mortgage protection, critical illness cover and income protection.
Clear your clutter
Going through your filing cabinet and sorting out all those years of paperwork is always a satisfying exercise. Give it an extra boost by making sure your family is aware of where everything is and what they need to tackle. You can make a folder with a clear list of insurance policies, pensions and bank details, along with information about any debts, like your mortgage, car loans or credit cards. It’s also the place to leave details of your will and any other wishes. Make sure at least one person knows where to find it. Lighten things up by leaving a little personal note in there too, to raise a smile when they come to read it. You could even leave one of our ‘Memories’ USB Memory Sticks with your own special video message, alongside your documents.
Plump up your funeral plans
Friends and family will feel the responsibility of giving a great send off, but they all may have differing ideas of exactly what that entails. Avoid disagreements and ease stress by making funeral plans clear. Write down whether you want to be buried or cremated, where you would like your final resting place to be, and include details of the music and readings you’d like at your funeral. There are some web-based funeral planners that help you do just that, including My Way to Go, which stores your wishes online.
Dust off your digital legacy
A digital legacy is the information online that is available about someone following their death. This might include their social media profiles, online chats, photos, gaming profiles and someone’s own website or blog. So much of ourselves is online now, it is as important to make your wishes as clear as you would about your offline life. Check out the Digital Legacy Association to find out more. We've also got a blog post on How to Set Your Facebook Legacy Contact, which is a quick an easy task you can do right now.
Share the load
No one should be doing all this sorting, decluttering and tidying alone, so sit down for a cup of tea with your nearest and dearest for a bit of a break. Use the time to talk openly about your death and to make your plans and wishes crystal clear. Reassure them that it is something you want to talk about so they know it is not a taboo subject.
Photo: Kelly Sikkema
If you need some ideas, take a look at The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson, a heart-warming gem of a book in which the author shares practical (and often amusing) advice on getting your plans in order.
Put a spring in your step
After all that clearing, it’s time to get on with enjoying life. Make a list of the things you’d love to do, from going on exotic adventures to learning something new, and start putting some of those plans into action.