When someone passes away in the family, it hits hard. Harder than you would ever expect. But once the trauma of announcing the news, conducting the funeral, and saying last goodbyes is over – you’re left with the second round of grief. Sorting through your loved one’s personal affairs and finances to work out ‘what’s next’.
It might be that your dearly beloved has been forthright in preparing his estate for his inheritors. Or (and as is so often the case), they might not have felt ready, or even found the time to prepare a will, let alone set up the necessary ‘pots’ for the family to rely upon. From my own personal experience, I am very lucky that my dear father had the foresight to plan ahead for his demise. Perhaps it was different for him. He was very unwell for over a decade, and with the whisper of loss always on the horizon, the grim reality of it all must have dawned on him long ago. But I’ve always wondered at how brave he must have been to face death head on, whilst still brimming with life. I don’t know if I could do it for my own children. Although, having seen the lengths Dad went to for us, I really hope I find that bravery in me one day.
Apart from Mum, none of us really knew how much Dad had prepared his estate for us until we all sat down with our newly appointed financial adviser. The documents had all been kept safely in their filing cabinets (giant grey monoliths that we consistently side-stepped for fear of being explained what was in them). Those cabinets teemed with reams of paper that we never fully understood the importance of, until this day.
We felt so reassured when we were told that Dad had thought to arrange as much as he could to make this horrible time somehow more manageable. Aside from the extensive joint will, there was life insurance, business cover, trusts for each of us, you name it. Our minds boggled a bit on hearing the explanations of how everything would work. And at the same time, we were tearfully at peace when we heard how the family home, and the business our parents had built up over the years, were now protected. Protected by various clever mechanisms Dad and his team had thought up. We truly never gave him credit for everything he thought of. But then, that’s so often the case for loved ones. We don’t see them for the stars that they are until their light is gone.
I think we all were so grateful that we didn’t have to sit there, whilst still in the throes of grief, and work out all the money and legal documents needed to just ‘carry on’ for now. Dad had taken away that exhausting stress for us. Just one of his many parting gifts. It gave us the space to breathe and plan the future, and to say our proper goodbyes in our own time. No probate breathing down our necks. No unnecessary calls back and forth with official bodies. It was all in place with a few signatures and registrations.
So I guess, thanks Dad, we miss you beyond words. You really did think of everything. I’m off to buy a filing cabinet. Because, I want to be just like you when I grow up…Love, Your Daughter (mother of two, 35).
Our guest contributor is Thasha Aly. Thasha was born and brought up in Kent, after her parents emigrated from India to teach here. She has worked in the law, the third sector and in special educational needs during her career. She and her husband live in London, and when she’s not running around after their toddler, she enjoys travel, learning, and eating (a lot).
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