Dying Matters – Sorting out your paperwork
This Week is Dying Matters Awareness Week which highlights the importance of talking about dying, death and bereavement. This year’s theme is ‘Are We Ready?’ and yesterday we talked generally about planning for the future.
Today we are covering the things you can do now to make the process of administering your estate easier for your executors. One of the most important things to do is to sort out your paperwork, which can save a great deal of time, and possibly money, for those left behind.
Keep important paperwork together
Keep the important things located together where they can be easily found. This includes birth certificates and marriage certificate. If you are a widow or widower this may also include the death certificate and grant of probate for your late husband or wife. It will also include your original Will (or a copy of it) along with any deeds to your property. If the original will and deeds are lodged with a firm of solicitors, make sure your next of kin know who to contact when the time comes. If you hold stocks and share certificates, make sure these are retained too.
If you have downsized house in the last few years or sold a house to move into a care or nursing home, make sure the Completion Statements for the sale (and purchase) are available. This helps the executors if they need to make a claim for the Residence Nil Rate band for inheritance tax purposes. Retain all these types of documents in a ‘Permanent Folder’ or case.
What paperwork to keep and for how long?
Now for the bigger task – Sort out the rest of the paperwork lying around the home. People have a habit of retaining old utility bills, bank statements, pension letters, tax papers and investment valuations going back years! Sometimes to the late 1980’s and early 1990’s!
My advice is to retain most documents no older than 2 to 3 years unless they are important for some specific reason. They are rarely ever useful beyond 2 or 3 years and only serve to clutter the desk. It makes the job of sifting through the papers and sorting them out more difficult for your executors. If a solicitor is the one who has to do this, it costs more money too!
The executors or solicitor dealing with your estate only need to identify what you still have in terms of assets, what you still owe as a liability and who needs to be contacted. A list of your principal assets, updated from time to time and kept with your Will, is also extremely useful.
Sorting out the paperwork now saves time and money!
Our first class team of solicitors provide you with guidance on all matters related to wills, probate and estates. We understand these are very personal matters and as such we do our best to understand your individual circumstances and provide tailored advice to help you plan for the future.