Between Life and Death – Part III

(Missed the previous instalments? No problem. Click here to catch up on Part I and Part II!)

Previously, in Between Life and Death: We acknowledge that the only things in life that are certain are death and taxes. If you should find yourself at Death’s Door, however, your immediate admittance is not automatically guaranteed. While your Maker and your physician enter into a heated and prolonged debate over possession of your soul, the taxman heads up the long queue of creditors demanding timely payment before you kick the bucket. In addition to possessing authority to pick up the pieces of your life, your loved ones will also need information on what, exactly, needs doing.

We live in an age of information. Your life is no exception. The last thing your loved ones want to do is rummage through your personal belongings looking for this information while you’re lying comatose in hospital. It’s invasive, and it just feels wrong to be ploughing through your every intimate detail, especially given that you are still alive, if not well.

To spare your loved ones the hassle and heartache of solving the puzzle that is your personal affairs, it is suggested that you take some time out of your busy schedule to compile a folder of information that would help them to deal with your affairs. Everything from medical information to bank statements to properties to creditors. What follows is a suggestion of information that could be included in this folder. Where it is not possible or practical to include originals, then place copies in the folder, and indicate where the originals can be found. Keep this folder in a very secure place (eg. a safe or locked filing cabinet) and let your Chosen One know where to find it in need.

Your Personal Folder may contain:

General

  • Will
  • Letter of wishes
  • Living will
  • Registration as an organ donor
  • Letters to loved ones
  • General Power of Attorney or Special Power of Attorney
  • Certified copy of your identity document
  • Passport
  • Antenuptial contract
  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce order and settlement agreement
  • Birth certificates of any children / minor beneficiaries
  • Names and contact numbers of friends and family you would want to be notified

Medical

  • Name and contact details of your family doctor
  • Your medical history
  • Any known allergies
  • Medication you’re currently taking, and dosages
  • Medical aid details (include a copy of your medical aid card)

Bank accounts

  • Bank account numbers (savings accounts, cheque accounts, loan accounts)
  • Credit card numbers
  • Asset-finance account numbers
  • Bond account numbers
  • Include recent bank statements, and regularly replace these statements with updated statements

Insurance details

  • Name and contact details of your insurance broker
  • Details of any short-term insurance policies (household contents, vehicles)
  • Details of any long-term insurance policies (life, disability, illness, income protection, etc)
  • Funeral policies

Other financial details

  • Tax number
  • Latest tax return
  • Store accounts, including latest statements
  • Budget (income and expenses)
  • Statement of assets and liabilities
  • Information about other sources of income
  • Details of any loans given to friends / family / third parties, including repayment arrangements
  • Details of loans received from friends / family / third parties, including repayment arrangements

Properties

  • Title Deeds
  • Municipal valuations
  • Municipal accounts
  • Levy statements
  • Lease agreements
  • Names and contact details of landlords / tenants / managing agents / rental agents

Other assets

  • Share certificates
  • Unit trust certificates
  • Details of any other investments
  • Valuation certificates for any jewellery, artwork, Persian carpets, antiques
  • Details of any security boxes, hidden safes, storage containers
  • Registration certificates for vehicles (cars, trucks, trailers, boats, caravans) and details of who they’re currently financed with
  • Where vehicles (cars, trucks, trailers, boats, caravans) are currently housed
  • Details of offshore assets and investments

Employment

  • Name of employer
  • Name and contact details of manager
  • Payslip

Business Details (if you’re self-employed)

  • Incorporation details
  • Shareholders Agreement / Members Agreement / Partnership Agreement
  • Buy and Sell Agreement
  • Names and contact details of shareholders / members / partners
  • Name and contact details of the company’s attorney, bookkeeper, auditor
  • Bank account details
  • Management accounts
  • Financial statements
  • Client lists
  • Supplier lists
  • Details of key individuals to be contacted in the event of death, injury or incapacity

Other information

  • Names, contact details, payslips, bank account details of any helpers (domestic workers, au pairs, gardeners)
  • Details of the school/s any minor children attend
  • Post office box details and where to find the key
  • Television licence
  • Firearm licences (and where the firearm/s and ammunition are stored)
  • Any other licences and permits
  • Any other information relating to your affairs

The contents of your personal information folder can mean the difference between calm and chaos. As circumstances in your life change, so too should the contents of your personal folder. Make a date with yourself to routinely review this folder and update its contents. Whether you do this once a quarter or once a year, the important thing is to make sure that your loved ones will be able to quickly and easily assess what needs to be done to ensure that your life’s affairs are dealt with smoothly.

Now go count your blessings and add to your gratitude list. For life is beautiful, and is meant to be lived.

In Summary: While you may not be able to control your life’s destination, you sure can control its journey, potholes and all. Make sure that you’ve identified your trusted loved ones who can step in and sort out your affairs in the event of death or disability. Compile a personal folder of all information that your chosen one will need in such event.

And if you’re looking for powers of attorney that are easy to use, and written in plain language, then have a look at our agreement templates here on Agreements Online.

Please note that this information is supplied for general information and does not constitute legal advice. It is advisable for you to contact a legal practitioner for guidance in respect of your unique requirements.

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