Preparing for Death

23 May 2017

There are two facts in life that we are all faced with, whether we like it or not!

These are:  1. We have to pay taxes, and   2. We will pass away.

We all take great care when we are planning family events such as to welcome the arrival of a new baby, special birthday celebrations, or a wedding.  We do this because we want to ensure everything goes well and that we aren’t faced with unforeseen hitches which will cause nothing but stress.

So, why is it that the thought of preparing for our death is something that most of us are reluctant to do? Preparation isn’t hard and it is something we should do, not only to ensure the distribution of our assets is in accordance with our wishes but also to ensure our loved ones are not faced with difficult decisions and conflict after our passing.  Once you have died it is much too late to ask you those important questions such as “do you want to cremated or buried?”, “where is your Will held?”, “what do you own?”, “where do you bank?”, “have you any life insurance?”

To relieve the burden on your loved ones after your passing, we suggest you speak to them about your wishes on death.  The following checklist covers a number of matters that you might like to consider:

  • Do you have a Will? Is your Will up-to-date?  Where is it?  Who is your Solicitor? Do your loved ones know where your Will is held

  • Have you made it known to your loved ones whether you wish to be cremated or buried? Where do you wish to be laid to rest? Have you any wishes as to where your ashes are to be scattered?  Do you have any specific funeral service directions.

  • Have you compiled the details of assets owned by you, for example:
    • Bank accounts;

    • Shares or bonus bonds held, details of any investment portfolio held. Details of your investment advisor.  Details of a superannuation investment and superannuation entitlements;

    • Details of any life insurance policies;

    • Property owned, such as a residential home and or investment property;

    • Business interests in a company or as a sole trader;

    • Overseas assets or interests;

    • Any other assets you may own personally, such as boats, vehicles, jewellery, and art.

  • Compile a list of any assets which you own jointly with another person.

  • Are you a trustee of a Family Trust or do you have a Family Trust?   Do you hold Trustee powers, ie. the power to appoint trustees under the Trust Deed, which should be transferred to someone else on your death.

  • Do you file tax returns and if so, who is your accountant.


You need to regularly review this checklist to ensure that as your circumstances change, your Will is kept up to date.  If you do so, your loved ones will be forever thankful and much better placed to handle your affairs upon your passing, exactly in accordance with your wishes.

Annette Tunley is a Registered Legal Executive in the Succession and Wealth Protection team at Norris Ward McKinnon. You can contact Annette at [email protected]

Annette Tunley 2