End of Life Planning: 6 Essential Tasks for Peace of Mind

Contemplating our own mortality is never easy. However, preparing for the future can ease the uncertainty for your loved ones once you're gone. Leaving this world without clear legal instructions regarding your finances and assets can place your family in a difficult situation.

Contemplating our own mortality is never easy. However, preparing for the future can ease the uncertainty for our loved ones once we’re gone. Leaving this world without clear legal instructions regarding your finances and assets can place your family in a difficult situation.

Planning ahead and safely storing these documents is a responsible choice that can make a significant difference. This advice is valuable not only for addressing your insurance requirements and personal planning but also for aiding those we leave behind. By organising your affairs and having the necessary documents in order, you can ensure your end-of-life wishes are fulfilled and your loved ones will be taken care of as intended, relieving your family of financial stress at this difficult time.

Here’s our checklist of the 6 important tasks to consider in your end-of-life planning:

1. Have a Last Will and Testament in Place.

Crafting a last will and testament is of utmost importance, particularly for those possessing assets exceeding $15,000 (an amount that generally includes most New Zealanders, encompassing assets like KiwiSaver balance, bank accounts, and vehicle value). This is a legal document that outlines an individual’s wishes and instructions regarding the distribution of their assets, belongings, and estate after their death. It also typically includes provisions for appointing guardians for minor children, naming an executor to oversee the distribution of assets, and addressing other matters related to the individual’s estate. In essence, a testament serves as a legally binding declaration of how a person wants their property and affairs to be handled once they pass away. It ensures that their wishes are carried out and provides clarity for their loved ones and the legal system regarding the intended distribution of their assets.

2. Establish EPA & Healthcare Directives.

You have the option to grant a trusted person (or persons) with power of attorney (PoA). This permits them authority to manage your financial affairs and make decisions on your behalf. Additionally, it’s prudent to set up health directives, such as a living will or medical power of attorney, to ensure your medical preferences are respected and upheld. This is activated if, or when, you are deemed incapable of making decisions about your care and welfare by medical practitioner.

3. Check Your Insurances Align with Your Current Preferences.

This is an appropriate moment to connect with your Adviser and ensure that your insurance coverage reflects your preferences. You have the flexibility to modify policy ownership or designated beneficiaries to accommodate any shifts in your situation or intentions. In cases where no beneficiary is named, the insurance company will direct the payout to the surviving policyholder or your estate. If you are the sole policy owner at the time of your passing, this could lead to delays in processing and disbursing the payment. To cover immediate expenses like funeral costs, designating at least one beneficiary is a prudent step.

4. Create a Funeral Plan.

Funerals often come with a significant cost, potentially burdening those you leave behind. You have the option to lighten this load by proactively organising a funeral plan. This could involve setting up a dedicated insurance policy to cover the expenses, or it’s worth checking if your existing policies already offer coverage, as many contemporary ones do. By preparing ahead for these costs, you can relieve your family of financial stress, enabling them to focus on commemorating your life instead of being concerned about the financial aspects of the funeral arrangements.

5. Consider Digital Legacy Planning.

In a digital age where much of our life unfolds online, crafting a digital legacy plan is essential. This comprehensive strategy involves organising information about your digital assets, including passwords and account details. Appointing a digital executor in your will is a prudent step to manage and transfer your digital presence. This encompasses not only social media accounts but also software subscriptions and other online memberships you possess.

6. Arrange Your Tax Affairs.

Organising your tax records and seeking advice from a tax professional are fundamental actions for upholding your financial matters, especially if you are a business owner or have assets within a family trust or similar arrangement. Allocating funds to address potential tax liabilities serves as a protective measure, ensuring that your loved ones encounter minimal difficulties when managing estate settlement and tax obligations.

For end-of-life planning, now is the ideal time to act. Given the inherent uncertainty of the future, it’s wise to establish and securely store your will, estate plan, powers of attorney, and digital legacy plan. These preparations can be invaluable when needed. As your Adviser, we can assist you in assessing your financial and insurance planning needs and connect you with appropriate legal professionals to craft a comprehensive end-of-life plan.

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