Not if but when…

Not if but when…

“No man is an island, Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent, A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were. As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were. Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.” *

I was reminded again this week of the importance of financial planning, especially with regard to getting your affairs in order for when you “check out” of this world. It is not a nice thing to talk about or even to think about but the reality is that death will come to us all and one of our legacies will be how we leave our affairs and our loved ones when we go. Two cases in quick succesion this week made this alarmingly clear…

When you are not here, you wont be able to tell people what you wanted to happen to your things…so it is vital that you put it in writing (that’s the point of the will). Without a will, not only do you leave people emotionally distraught beause of your death but you potentially also leave them financially distraught (stuffed night be a better word here) as your funds will sit in limbo for a very long time (maybe even 5-10 years) while the courts decide who gets what. This issue was highlited by a case of a father of 2 dying without a will…if only he had made the time to draft the will – its an half hour exercise (at most).

The other point I want to make is that you cant (or should not) try to rule from the grave…it’s just messy and it often also reveals a lot about the kind of person you really were while you were alive. Things change and your will needs to allow a degree of flexibility so that those left behind can really benefit from your legacy – too often we have seen cases with trusts that have been set up that have fortunes in them but where trustees are unable (or unwilling) to make funds available to the beneficiaries because of some wording in the will or trust deed. You wont be around to change this so keep it simple.

While I was reading the 2nd will this week I read some very hurtful and unkind things that were in the will and I could not help but think that “this is now in writing, for all to see, for all eternity…ouch it’s got to hurt”…and that will be a lasting memory. So never draft (or alter) your will in a fit of emotion – it is something that needs calm and rational thought.

Finally, when you draft your will, do it as if you are leaving today. What is best if you are leaving this afternoon (not what will be the best in 10 years time)?

*Quote from: For whom the bell tolls by John Donne