Getting your affairs in order

The topic of preparing for the end of life is an often overlooked aspect of personal finance. Tackling the issue though is essential, and will greatly relieve the burden on your loved ones when the moment comes.

MATTHEW HUTTON is a Church of England minister and former tax consultant who has written a book on the subject. In this video, he shares his advice on this important topic; with recommendations ranging from practical steps like writing a will, to the simpler things like making time for the people close to you.


Robin Powell:
Nobody likes to think about dying, but death is the one certainty in life. When the time comes, it will greatly relieve the burden on your loved ones if you’ve already got your affairs in order. Matthew Hutton, a former tax consultant and a minister in the Church of England, has written a book on the subject called ‘Your Last Gift’.

Matthew Hutton: I just find it terribly odd that we think about who to marry or not to marry, who to live with, and whether to have children, where to go on holiday, jobs, where to live, pastimes, and so on. We invest time thinking about these things, but somehow we don’t invest time – naturally – about what arguably is the important thing.

RP: There are two things Matthew says you must do to prepare for the end of your life. One is to make a will; the other is to arrange Lasting Powers of Attorney.

MH: None of us knows – first of all – when the end will come, how the end will come. And if mental capacity goes; then if you haven’t got Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, then you’re at the mercy of what’s called the Court of Protection, which is such an arcane and difficult procedure that I’m not going to go there. You can appoint one individual, they can be different. You can appoint number of people. You could appoint them to act jointly or to act severally – that means any one of them could act. But, rather like executors of a will, they’re people that you trust. That know you, and you know them; and, when you’re no longer in a position to make those decisions for yourself, they can take them in the best way for you.

RP: Matthew recommends having a series of spreadsheets stored on your computer with details of your investments, insurance policies, bank accounts and so on. You should also store details of utilities providers and maintenance contracts. And don’t forget your digital assets.

MH: You may be talking about a computer, desktop, laptop, tablet, iPad, mobile phone, social media, Dropbox, and other facilities. Plus a whole range of other things. And, of course, you might have a range of passwords. You might have a default password, but then you might have various combinations of that password that you use for particular facilities. And so the vital thing is to leave a list, and for your executors to know where that list is.

RP: Another priority, says Matthew, should be to spend time with people in your life who are most important to you. That includes friends and relatives you may not have seen for many years.

MH: And of course, the great thing about old friendships is that – no matter the passing of time – the fact is, you get back to where you were: whether it was 10, 20, 30 years ago. But they’re the people you want to spend time with. So you need to be quite intentional about that. I hit 70 three or four weeks ago. 70 is middle-aged, as we know! But, as the years pass, it does focus the mind on places you want to go to, holidays you want to go on, but also people you want to spend time with.

RP: All of these things you could do on your own. But this is another example of why having a financial planner can help — having someone who can chivvy you along and ensure you get on and do the things you need to do.