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Do it for the ones you love

These are sobering times so this is a bit more of a sober post than usual.

Now more than ever you need to get your house in order. And I'm not just talking aesthetics now, I'm talking paperwork: insurance policies, wills, etc... Yes, it's all a bit boring and these are things we don't necessarily want to think about let alone talk about, but it is becoming increasingly necessary to get these things up to date, for your own peace of mind, for your significant others, and for your dependants.

I'm in the middle of a very chaotic house clearance and it has brought it home to me how important it is to have conversations with your parents and significant others regarding their wishes should they become incapacitated, or worse. This client has been suffering from early-onset dementia and it is clear from the house that her condition started much earlier than her family were aware. I'm having to be very careful sorting through papers as I'm finding important financial documents mixed in with newspaper cuttings and work photocopies from 20 years ago, credit cards in books, and precious family mementos mixed in with junk.

For years we've ribbed my dad for his 'everything in triplicate' attitude but I am so grateful now that he has kept this going into retirement. A couple of years ago my parents signed over lasting power of attorney (LPOA) to me and my brother for health/welfare and property/financial matters, as they were very aware that their 'sound mind' may be affected at any point in the near future. My dad also told us where we could find a list of all his accounts and policies with all the necessary sign-in details and passwords (all nicely labelled in a filing cabinet, or in the safe). We've also asked the 'resuscitate or not' question, the donor question, and the 'cremation or burial' question. Being British these are not easy conversations to have, but they are so very necessary.

I have now seen both sides of the coin up close and I know, as a child of parents who are young at heart but advancing in age, which I would prefer when that time comes.

Quite often we do things as a knee-jerk reaction to events that happen, for example we reviewed all our health/life/work insurance policies when two young people we know suffered strokes and were unable to work for a sustained period of time. Now I'm self-employed we need to review it all again.

Do you have a financial advisor? They don't cost a lot as they make most of their money from the insurers themselves. Failing that, he may be a bit annoying but Martin Lewis is a font of all financial knowledge and his website has lots of interesting articles and forums (see links below).

We have to renew car insurance/house insurance etc. every year so why wouldn't we review other equally (or even more) important policies on a regular basis? It might only take a couple of hours once a year but these are life-changing decisions for those that depend on us.

Do the right thing.

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