Life After Your Death

Three years ago we sat at one of my cousins’ funeral. He had been ill for a while. All of us who saw him nearing his death knew he wasn’t going to live very long.

After the funeral, my wife and I sat in on discussions to conclude the funeral. Among the issues to be finalized included, figuring out how much money he had and who would take care of his child.

He had no will so a lot of time was spent trying to figure out what he had and what he would have loved us to do. There was a lot of hearsay, suspicion and arguments. He had left some money for his child but nobody really knew the full instructions. There were arguments about who would be the guardian for his child. It was a painful exercise.

This has happened so many times and keeps on happening in different forms. One of the reasons is that in most cultures death is a heavy subject. We see relatives who are about to die and we can’t ask them if they have a will. But not talking about it doesn’t make death go away.

What I’ve described are some of the events that happen after death. No, I’m not discussing what happens to you after your death. I’m talking about what happens to the loved ones you leave behind after your death.

After the death of a poor or middle class person, their children and spouses get poorer. After the death a rich or forward thinking person, their family remains the same or better off. If you’re not prepared, upon your death, the bank freezes your accounts. Your family has no immediate access to your money. Your estate has to be wound up first. This could take many months. Meanwhile, your kids are taken out of private school, your family moves to a village or shanty township, and they sell your house. And if you had no will, especially if you’re living in a foreign country, the government could get most if not all of your assets. This varies from country to country. Find out what happens in the country you’re living.

Let’s face it; we’re all going to die one day. We can make life easier for our loved ones in many ways. Here are 4 of the ways:

A will can make life easy for everyone. It answers the questions people have and can’t ask you. You can specify who you want to get your belongings. It can be elaborate or simple. You can ask your bank or lawyer to help you draft a will. Or you can simply write on a piece of paper, put a date on it and sign it.

You can also write your final wishes. For instance, you can specify what they should do with your body; bury you or cremate you; take your body back to your country or village or bury you abroad. You might have told your spouse what to do but your relatives may not want to listen to him or her at that moment. They might say your spouse has to take your body to your village even when it’s not financially feasible. You might have agreed with your best friend that his family raises your kids but your mother who may not be able to afford to raise the kid may feel it’s her duty. Such things can be clarified in a will.

A funeral policy entails putting some money away with a service provider that makes a pay out when you die. This money is paid out immediately to help with funeral expenses. Without this, the surviving people get poorer as they have to spend their savings or borrow. A funeral policy will ensure your funeral is not a financial blow to your loved ones.

A funeral policy can be taken out for all your dependants and domestic workers if you know that you will be expected to foot any of their funeral costs.

You can take a step further by looking a little beyond your own funeral. A good life policy will pay out way more than the money you would have had if you saved or invested the money yourself. This method makes your children and spouse richer when you die. If you love them enough you will do that for them. When you die, they will have something to smile about!

A well formed trust will continue to live even after your death. When you set it up, you move all your assets into it. Upon your death, your spouse as a trustee and other trustees will carry on as if nothing happened. The rich control lots of things but own nothing. They put their assets in trusts. This is a way of securing your wealth for your children and their children’s children and their children after them. Imagine what it would be like if your parents had set up a trust. We now know more, so we should do better for our descendants.

Other than death there is disability and severe illness which can prevent anyone from making the income they were making. In these cases if there is no provision, you and your family suffer. When this happens you die sooner than they should because of shame and not wanting to be a burden on others. You lose the will to live on. Life can be made easier by taking out disability and severe illness policies.

When you write a will and take out a funeral policy, you help your loved ones at the time of your death. When you take out a life policy and set up a trust, you help your loved ones beyond the point of your death. You give your loved ones a huge boost. Providing for loved ones after your death doesn’t take too much money to set up. Get the right advice.

We might not be comfortable talking about death but not talking about it does not help us. Instead we act confused when it happens. Can’t we prepare for it? Take time alone or with your spouse to think about and write what you would want to happen in the event of your death. Who will take care of your kids when you can’t? There are unfortunate things that happen in life all the time. If we can prepare for them and mitigate their effects in a way, then life is easy!

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