Estate Planning

7 practical steps to ensure you leave your estate in order

The quote “nothing is certain except death and taxes” has been attributed to Benjamin Franklin and still holds true. Irrespective of everything else which may distinguish us from each other, death is one thing which comes to us all.

Ashley Montagu put a different focus on the same event when he said: “The idea is to die young as late as possible.” This sums up the other truth, none of us know when our time will come.

It is a depressing thought thinking about what will happen when we are not here. But there are some steps you can take which will make the administration of your affairs that little bit easier for the ones you leave behind.

These practical steps are easy to implement and can be updated periodically when your assets or circumstances change.

1. Make a list of all your assets. Include everything you own for example : bank accounts, properties, insurance policies, details about your car, jewellery items etc. If you want to be really organised, include further details such as account numbers, whether the assets are held jointly or in your sole name. As much information as you can provide would be useful. Store this list securely as it will contain important details which may be useful if they got into the wrong hands. If you store it with a password make a note of the password somewhere else so your executors can access the information.

2. Make a list of your debts. Include everything you currently owe. Detail your mortgage lender, your gas, electricity and water supply details, your buildings and contents insurers, your credit cards etc. Anyone who you may owe money to needs to be on this list. Also make a note of any recurring auto-renewals or direct debits/standing orders which pay bills etc.

3. Make a Will and review it at least every five years and more often if there is a major life event – such as marriage, divorce, birth of children, retirement, inheritance from another estate or any other significant events which may occur. Ask your Executors whether they are happy to act before you appoint them, and keep these details up to date. If you have children under the age of 18 or dependents who may need more assistance think about who is going to look after them when you are gone.

4. List all your non-financial accounts – such as social media, streaming subscriptions, memberships and online shopping accounts. Again if you wish to keep a note of log on details, please ensure this information is stored securely.

5. Make a decision about your funeral wishes. Even a simple statement about whether you wish to be buried or cremated can be really useful for your relatives, so they know which you would prefer. If you have particular funeral service requests then you can include these or if you don’t want a service at all you can note your preferences. You could think about buying a pre-paid funeral plan.

6. Organise your paperwork so it is easy to find. Keep copies of your house deeds, birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce papers or any other important official documents. Make a note of your national insurance number and your place of birth.

7. Keep the lists up to date as things change. Even if you don’t do this, having made the list in the first place will mean your Executors know where to start.

Contact us

These steps will make the administration of your affairs that much easier for your executors. If you need assistance with your estate planning, talk to our specialist Wills and Probate team.


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