CHECKLIST: Getting your affairs in order in case of illness and death
Have you put all your important information and papers in one place and told a trusted person where to find them in case of an emergency? Or is this information scattered around your computer, filing system and inbox where no-one other than yourself would know where to look?
No one ever plans to be sick or incapacitated, however the current Covid-19 pandemic has forced everyone to consider the fact that they too may fall victim to the virus.
For many people this will mean mild to moderate flu like symptoms but for the elderly, frail or those with existing chronic medical conditions and co-morbidities the virus can lead to extreme illness, with days or weeks in hospital, and even death.
It is for this reason that it is important to plan ahead and make sure that all your affairs are in order, and that you have made all your important papers and the relevant contact details readily available – it can make all the difference in an emergency or if you are unable to manage things yourself.
Sarah Love of Private Client Trust, the fiduciary division of Private Client Holdings, offers the following advice on getting your affairs in order:
“Put your important papers and copies of legal documents in one place. You can set up a file, put everything in a desk or dresser drawer, in the safe, or list the information and location of papers in a notebook. If your papers are kept off premises – such as with your family lawyers or executors – then keep copies in a file at home. Remember to check each year to see if there's anything new to add.”
“Someone must know where you keep your papers and important documents in case of an emergency,” says Love, “so tell a trusted family member or friend. And if they need access to your computer remember to tell them the passwords to access the folders. You don't need to tell this person the details of your personal affairs, but just where to access the information if needed.”
“Discuss your end-of-life preferences with your doctor. He or she can explain what health decisions you may have to make in the future and what treatment options are available.
Then draw up a Living Will which gives you a say in your health care if you become too sick to make your wishes known. In a Living Will, you can state what kind of care you do or don't want. This can make it easier for family members to make tough healthcare decisions for you.”
A checklist of papers to have in order
Love advises that when gathering your important information to ensure your affairs can be handled on your behalf be sure to include the following:
Location of most up-to-date Will with an original signature;
A certified copy of your identity book;
An account that shows your legal residence;
The names and addresses of your spouse and children;
Any documents pertaining to birth and death certificates, certificates of marriage, divorce, citizenship, and adoption;
Employers and dates of employment;
Names and phone numbers of religious contacts;
Names and phone numbers of close friends, relatives, doctors, and lawyers;
Medications taken regularly (be sure to update this regularly);
Location of Living Will and other legal documents;
Medical Aid information;
Location of original title deed for your home;
Car registration papers and ownership papers if paid in full, or details of car finance arrangements;
Location of safe and safe key.
In addition to the above you must include the following financial records in the folder of documents:
Sources of income and assets (pension, investments, property etc.);
Wealth managers names and phone numbers;
Details of any assets not under your wealth manager’s control
Details of any offshore assets
Insurance information (life, health, long-term care, home, car) with policy numbers and providers names and phone numbers;
Name of your bank and account details;
Copy of most recent income tax return
Liabilities and debts — what is owed, to whom, and when payments are due
“It is recommended that you chat with an expert about getting all your affairs in order, to ensure your Will - and Living Will - is up to date, that your medical cover is adequate and that you have checked all the boxes in case of an emergency,” concludes Love.