/ Health, Money

Are you prepared for when a relative dies?

Flower dead

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?

Comments
Member

The linked piece of work is good and interesting.

I must confess that because of its double page pdf. format. it is a pig to read on my laptop and I have only scan read it quickly ! Is this format desirable ?

Member

If you think that is bad, what about the pdf version of Which? magazine. The current issue has between one and seven pages per pdf file. At least the most recent issue is at the top of the page, so it’s no longer necessary to scroll down.

Member

Yikes that sounds laborious for those in the habit of keeping all that is fit to print. I used to keep the magazines for up to 5 years …….

Good news on
http://www.staticwhich.co.uk/documents/pdf/dying-better—the-consumer-experience-at-the-end-of-life-396589.pdf

Which works well on my 24″ screen ….. in portrait mode which is how I use it mostly. Apologies no it does not it just skips down to the next double page. I imagine great for a layout artist but not all convinced it is reader friendly. If I ask nicely can someone tell me why it is like it is?

Member

It is certainly not reader friendly, and would not be much help to anyone using a tablet.

Try using a different pdf reader if you encounter problems like skipping. I use Adobe Acrobat (not Adobe Reader) to highlight information and add notes to pdf files.

Member

Hi Dieseltaylor,

Glad you found the report useful, and apologies that the format isn’t user friendly. I’ve had a word with our design team and we will hopefully be able to upload a version in a more easy to use format asap.

Thanks,

Phillida

Member
Quaker Social Action says:
10 March 2015

Hello, all. It’s the anti-poverty charity Quaker Social Action here – part of the Funeral Poverty Alliance. We’re really pleased to see more people talking about stories like Laura’s and the unexpected problems people can face after a big loss.

We run a Down to Earth, a support and advocacy service for people on low income facing funeral poverty.

It is free of charge and can be face-to-face or on the phone/emalil. We help people to plan a simple and meaningful goodbye that suits their needs.

The help people need can range from assisting with paperwork to highly complex cases that involve months of work, We also receive referrals from hospices for people worried about the cost of their own funeral.

Each visitor saves an average of £2,238 on the cost of a funeral.

We have also raised £61,531 of external funds for clients by accessing the estate of the person who has died, helping them make applications for Bereavement Payments and the Social Fund, as well as applying to charitable organisations.

We also campaign against funeral poverty with our Fair Funeral Campaign http://www.quakersocialaction.org.uk/Pages/Category/funeral-poverty-campaign.You can also follow the campaign at @endfuneralpov

Thank you.
– Quaker Social Action

Member

This made interesting reading. It left me thinking why life, even at its end can be so complicated and the reason why so many people are reluctant to make the necessary plans, but how important it is to prepare for it. However, there is no legal obligation for anyone to have a funeral if not desired, but this obviously would need to be stated in one’s will.

Solicitors don’t always get it right either. The will my son made which was lodged with a solicitor mysteriously went missing after he died. Fortunately he had the good sense to pass a copy to his sister-in-law who is a qualified accountant which emphasises the need to make sure there is a copy accessible if and when needed.