It’s probably (almost certainly) over simplistic to say that the world divides into two types of
people: the organised and the disorganised. And you may be among the former when it
comes to keeping contact details, not only of family and friends but also of professional
advisers, business connections etc. Typically this will now be in online or digital form rather
than in a paper address book.
Have you given serious thought to the people, not only who should be the first to be told of
your death, but also who you want to be spending ‘priority time’ with now?
The advice in my book is to leave clear lists of those who should be contacted following your
death, with phone numbers, emails and postal addresses. Obviously, you would start with
family and close friends and indeed anyone who would not like to hear the news from a death
notice in The Times, The Telegraph etc, plus of course people like funeral directors and
vicar/other religious leader, together with doctor (if they don’t know already) and solicitors.
There’s space for all these in the list in the Appendix to my book on one of those flexible
forms for downloading and completion. There follows mention of a whole range of
professional and business connections.
And then there is a variety of organisations with which you may have some connection.
You’ll also find a reference to the very helpful HM Government’s ‘Tell Us Once’ service
which once completed will inform of your death all of: HMRC, DWP, the Passport Office,
DVLA, the Local Council, Veterans UK and Social Security Scotland, together with any
relevant public sector pension schemes.
There may be companies of which you are an officer, or family businesses in which you are
involved and trusts (whether family or charitable) of which you are a trustee. Indeed, also
active deceased estates where you may be an executor, together with people who are still
alive who you know have appointed you as an executor.
And then there’s the list of contacts for house-related services, which has its own Appendix in
Making up the list(s) may also prompt you into thinking who it is you would like to spend
more time with now, or indeed make a gift to – perhaps of something special to you like a
photograph of a happy time spent together or a book or a painting, some silver or anything
else which would mean a lot to them.
Such gifts can be left by Will or indeed given while you are still alive, for example tax-
efficiently making use of the available lifetime exemptions from Inheritance Tax, maybe
within the £3,000 annual exemption, if not even the £250 small gifts exemption.
Part of that ‘spending time with’ may involve making clear how much that person means to
you. You could also write letters to favourite family members or friends, letters which could
be left with your Will or in a safe place with instructions to deliver them once you have gone.
It is worth keeping copies of all such letters and the dates, in case you want to rewrite them.
Sometimes things happen in life which cause a rift. So, where you are conscious of
‘unfinished business’ with anyone, you may want to do your best to put it right, whether it’s a
matter of forgiving them or, if you are ‘the guilty party’, asking for forgiveness. That way,
you can indeed when the time comes, ‘rest in peace’.