Yes, we know, no one likes to think about their own death — but let’s face it, if there’s one thing we know for sure it’s that we’re all going to die eventually. And as much as we’d like to die peacefully in our sleep at the age of 100 (having ticked every single thing off our bucket lists), for a lot of us, that’s not what’s going to happen.
Thinking about what will happen to your family if you die unexpectedly is really, really depressing, but it’s also one of the most important things you can do for them to make life without you a tiny bit easier (and filled with a lot less admin).
Our advice? Take one week to do everything on our checklist, then you never have to think about this morbid topic again! And there’s nothing that can compete with the sense of relief you’ll feel knowing that your family will be taken care of, and they’ll know exactly how many white doves to release at your funeral.
1. Draw up a will
Everyone knows they should have a will, but still, every day people die in South Africa without wills. Probably because it’s not a fun thing to think about, and who needs more admin in their lives? We can’t stress how much easier having a will makes things for families after a loved one dies.
At the least, your will should designate what happens to your property when you die, and if you have kids, it should include who will be their guardians if both parents die. You may want to also consider making a plan for any pets you have, and if you have strong feelings about funeral services and what happens to your body when you die, include info on that too.
It’s really not as difficult as you think, so make a commitment to do it this week! Most banks offer will-drafting services, so you have zero excuses for not getting it done!
2. Make difficult medical decisions now
How do you feel about life support? Intravenous feeding? Risky operations? Resuscitation? A living will is a document that outlines what you want and don’t want to happen if you’re incapacitated and can’t make decisions for yourself. Include any medical care you definitely do not want.
It’s also a good idea to appoint someone you trust to make medical decisions for you if you can’t. A living will doesn’t include every possible medical procedure, and the person you appoint can work with doctors to preserve your interests in emergencies.
Read more: 7 medical tests that every woman should have
3. Consider being an organ donor
If you’d like your organs to make an incredible difference in someone else’s life, signing up with the Organ Donor Foundation is a no-brainer. It’s as simple as taking 10 minutes to fill in this form. The 4 300 children and adults on the organ transplant list will be forever grateful.
4. Make sure your family will be ok
Times are tough! We’re all doing anything we can to save money on basically everything. But as difficult as making ends meet is, imagine how difficult it would be for your family if your income was gone? Life insurance should definitely NOT be something you stop paying, and if don’t have a policy already, put it on your to-do list immediately.
MiWayLife offers comprehesive life cover from R149 a month, and they don’t require any invasive tests — just give them a call (on 0860 645433) and your family will be covered in minutes. We also love that you can reduce your premiums by living a healthier lifestyle (talk about win-win). Seriously, getting this sorted will be the best thing you do all year!
5. Get funeral cover
When you die, your family may not be able to access any of your bank accounts, which can be a real problem if they need to organise a funeral. This is not a problem they need to have! You can organise funeral cover over the phone, and if you get life insurance with MiWayLife, it actually includes funeral cover — so you (and your family) will have one less thing to worry about.
6. File your important documents together
Birth certificates, pre-nuptial agreements, contracts, proof of car and home ownership, insurance policies — imagine what would happen if your family needed to get hold of these documents and didn’t know where to start looking. Remember to include retirement policies and life insurance documents, because if your family doesn’t know they exist, they can’t claim from them.
Getting organised and making sure they’re all in the same place is something that will be helpful if you die, but it’s also pretty great while you’re alive (no more searching for your daughter’s vaccination booklet at the last minute).
While you’re about it, you might as well make copies of everything and leave them in another spot. Just in case…
Read more: 11 organising hacks for an always-tidy home
7. Create a password spreadsheet
When you die, your digital presence remains. From your bank account and email account to your Instagram and Facebook profiles, you need to make it possible for your family to access the sites you use online.
It shouldn’t take long to make a spreadsheet of all the relevant websites, user names and passwords, then print it out and keep it with your file of important documents in a really, really safe place (like an actual safe). If it’s important to you, remember to include whether you would like your family to delete any of your social media accounts.
(Just please make sure you have a good anti-virus on your computer if you’re going to save your password spreadsheet on it. And don’t go emailing it around willy-nilly.)