Laura was 26 when her father died unexpectedly of a heart attack. He hadn’t made a Will, but left behind properties and a number of small business interests. It fell to Laura to manage his estate…
In order to get probate, Laura had to take out a special bank loan, for which the bank charged her 8%. She had to pay for solicitors fees, before even getting any money from her father’s estate, and bills kept coming in for the two houses. Before she got her father’s estate, she had to pay inheritance tax on it.
In the end, Laura had to postpone her wedding and quit her job to manage it all. She says:
‘Things that were sentimental objects for the close family suddenly became financial assets for extended family, and even strangers… I had to learn a new legal system and develop business acumen, all the while trying to mourn for my father.’
Making it easier to plan for end of life
The Ministry of Justice has launched a new ‘Choice not Chance’ campaign, which aims to make it easier for people to plan for the end of life, and to avoid situations like Laura’s. The site provides a single online portal through which to write and register Lasting Power of Attorney, as well as providing information on making a Will, and registering for organ donation.
While it’s great that the Ministry of Justice is taking action, we think there are still too few solutions that respond to the reality of dying in the modern day.
While good advanced planning can mitigate some of the challenges people face, our new research finds that too often putting plans in place – or acting on them – is both complex and costly. Indeed, our research reveals a paradoxical situation where people are at risk of significant detriment from the products and services that are supposed to support them at their time of greatest need.
We think that the Government and businesses need to do more to make things as easy as possible for people in this difficult time. For example, by ensuring that financial service providers have clear requirements in place regarding the level of proof required to access the deceased’s funds. And also by supporting the Funeral Poverty Alliance’s call for funeral directors to improve their practice.
There’s definitely more to be done. Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation to Laura? What do you think would be the most useful simplification or innovation to help people negotiate the administrative and financial burdens of being bereaved?