By Tunji Awonusi
When my good friend Uchenna (not real name) died about seven years ago leaving behind wife and a beautiful daughter, he didn’t leave a WILL. The pain the immediate family he left behind went through in the hands of his extended family members, compelled me to initiate conversations around writing a will immediately one start having a family and some money saved or invested.
Uchenna’s sudden death did of course send shockwaves through his immediate family, making it an incredibly stressful time for the wife and daughter to deal with and its attendant financial complications.
When it comes to writing WILLs, young adults, as you might expect, are the least prepared. Research shows that less than 10 per cent of 18 to 34 year olds have written their final wishes. Yet almost 40,000 young people aged 20-34 die in Nigeria each year, with transport accidents being one of the top three causes.
Write a WILL
Making a Will is really important because it means there are clear instructions for what you want to happen to everything if you suddenly die- Your money, property, possessions and online accounts. It is also a great opportunity to talk to your wife, friends and family about your wishes, rather than putting off awkward conversations.
One of my mentors always says, no matter how young or old you are it is vital you ensure there are no complications after your death. Don’t put off writing a Will because you think you won’t need it for a long time. Wills aren’t just for the elderly and, if the worst were to happen, having a Will could help ease the pressure off your family.
A Will should outline things like who will inherit your house, who is responsible for your arts, and who you want your assets to go to. This will help to prevent any arguments over the distribution of your belongings to your family and friends, so it’s important to write a Will however young and healthy you are.
Once you have the paperwork together and have decided on the executors of your Will, make sure they know where it is stored and how to get hold of your lawyer.
Prepare Your Wife/Partner
Make sure those closest to you know your wishes and are able to follow them through. There is something to be said for doing what you can to sort out your money before you die. It can really help those left behind and can avoid family problems at a difficult time. Death is a tragedy and the period after is usually a challenging one emotionally, financially and practically.
You also need to consider how your spouse will survive financially should you pass away. Does your partner know how to pay the bills and have access to all accounts including business debts? It is good to encourage your partner to be involved in the management of the different financial aspects of your life before you are gone. I would recommend you open a joint account with your partner if you have not done it yet and discuss household bill payments with each him/her.
It is also important to work out what income your loved ones will get and what their budget is going to be. If you have an occupational or personal pension make sure you understand how much your scheme will pay out on your death, and whether your partner will receive an annual income from it. If you have taken out a life insurance policy make it easier for those closest to you by telling them who the policy is with. Who will get a pay out when you are deceased depends on your policy, what you stated and whether it is a single or joint policy.
The person making the claim will need the name of the deceased, the cause of death, the life insurance policy number and will have to state their relationship to the deceased.
Deciding what funeral you would like won’t bring death any closer, but putting plans in place means you can be sure that your funeral will reflect your wishes. It is important to look into affordability of funeral because the average costs of using a funeral director is quite expensive, so make sure to get quotes from more than one provider. A lower cost option is cremation, which is becoming a bit popular especially, in Lagos due to lack of burial sites and you can organise a ceremony afterwards in the community.
If you want to make sure you have the money for your funeral covered then you could consider a pre-paid funeral plan or funeral insurance which is becoming popular in the country too. A pre-paid plan will cover specific type of funeral, with an approved funeral company, but it may not cover all expenses.
Making a will is something we all shy away from, but whatever your age, you can always make sure your loved ones are well looked after if the inevitable happens at any time.