There was a public discussion recently of how to handle someone’s Facebook identity when they die. Maybe because of that, or maybe because I had to do a funeral for someone last week, I have been thinking about what other things we need to have recorded somewhere for when it’s our turn. Like for example, where is your current will? And is it up to date? So we have been putting together a list of things you need top record for your family members who will be looking after things when you are gone.
Death Tax Applies to You.
But before I get to the list, there is one more thing to be said first. At a recent seminar for seniors, we were told that the government charges a “death tax” on some of our assets when we die. That’s probably news to you as it was to me, because, I thought death taxes were abolished by the government in Australia, a long time ago. The new death tax takes the form of a 15% tax on the superannuation (or pension fund) assets, which will not get passed onto a financial dependant. So, if like me, your kids are all grown up, and you have given them an enduring power of attorney, they should know that, when the hospital rings to gather the family around your bedside in your final week, the first thing they should do is to ring your fund and tell them to transfer the assets into a your bank account ASAP. It will be in their interest to make that happen because the bank accounts are not taxed at all. You should inform your super fund ahead of time that they are your power of attorney so there is no delay in those final days. Maybe the sooner you do that the better. You may not be able to do that in your last week!
Next of Kin
So what do we need to have written somewhere? Obviously, you should have the next of kin recorded with their contact details. This is important, if you need to go into care before you die and especially so if they have an enduring power of attorney and so are required to act on your behalf while you are still alive. Its also important if you are involved in a car accident and the police come to your home attempting to contact your next of kin. By the way, I’m sure you know an enduring power of attorney ceases the moment you die and they can no longer access your accounts or sign documents on your behalf. That passes to the person who is the executor of your will.
Which brings me to another point. You should have your solicitor recorded somewhere if you have one. Especially if they are currently keeping the original copy of your current will. If you are looking after that document yourself, then this may not be important.
If you are currently employed, then perhaps you should write down who is employing you. Their contact details are known to you but maybe not to everyone who need to know, if you are in a situation where you can’t talk anymore.
Next you should write down your accountants details – if they exist. You may have one who does your tax or maybe gives you financial advice. Either way, write their details down.
Then we come to bank details. This can be a bit complicated because everybody is different. But there are some things we have in common. One thing you need to write down is the account name on your bank account, credit cards etc. An account that is in joint names, can continue to be used beyond the point of your death, but an account in your name only will be frozen and can’t be used – except for things like funeral expenses. The bank will pay those directly if you give them the bill – and there’s enough in the account.
Of course the account details should also include any mortgage details, payment information – amount and date due. If you have a body corporate where you live, or you have a rental property then there are details of insurances etc you need to have recorded. They will be in your filing system, but if they are in one place, the person who finds them will be so thankful to you.
If you have any shares they also need to be noted down somewhere. These days the companies never send any paper details so your executor will need to wait for an email to land in your account before they know those shares even exist. So maybe its easier to keep the written records or even print out the emails from time to time.
If you have a life insurance policy write the details down too. My dad died 20 years before we found out about an insurance policy he had. We would have been very thankful if he had recorded that somewhere. And while on this subject, he also had some shares he spoke about sometimes, but we have never found out whether the company went broke, or he sold them or maybe they’re still active somewhere.
There are possibly other insurances you have as well. Things like house insurance, contents insurance, and health insurance. All these will need to be changed when you die so make it easy for someone and write them down now.
If you have a passport, then record its number on the important things about you document and the number of your birth certificate, and your marriage certificate. Of course, the one the minister or celebrant gave you when you got married may have a number on it but the real number is only on the official one.
Your CentreLink number is also important because when you die someone will have to tell them. Otherwise they get upset and write to your address asking for some money to be paid back. There are some benefits they’ll give your spouse if you are a pensioner but someone will have to talk to them anyway.
You may also need your doctor’s details, dentist information and other health information.
In addition, you should write down the password for your computer. I heard of a woman whose husband was recently and unexpectedly killed. She could not find his password and so couldn’t access the thousands of dollars in bitcoins he owned. Maybe you don’t have any of them or maybe you don’t know what they are, but someone eventually will need to know your computers password. And also include your Facebook password, eBay password, Telephone company website password and any other website password that will be handy to those looking after your affairs. Thankfully my computer has a password system so when I go to a website I’ve used before, it can fill in the username and password field – except for Google and a couple of banks.
Music and preferences.
Finally you need to write down any music you would choose for your funeral, anything specifically you want done or said and things like burial or cremation preferences. Maybe you could include who you think would make good pallbearers,
If you write all these things down, not only will will you write things, but it may also prompt you to speak to your family about these things. After all they are the ones who will most likely make all the decisions in the end!