BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Why adding death to one’s financial plans is smart thinking

Before my landlord died, the farm manager who was in charge of his cocoa plantation was gradually taking over the farm. Baba could barely walk, talk or take any decision himself.

All his children were in the city busy chasing money. There was little Baba’s wife could do to salvage the situation. She knew little about the farm, the manager, or the terms of the agreement.

When a financial member of a family dies suddenly, the bereaved not only cry because he or she will be greatly missed, but also because of the negative financial consequences it will cause.

Have you ever thought about your death? I know you do not like to think or talk about it. I know that it feels very uncomfortable to read about a financial topic like this.

Thinking about your death is not taboo; it is financial wisdom. Death is a reminder that you are a human being.

No matter how loud you shout “God forbid!”, death is a debt you must pay. Your prayers and healthy living may delay your death; it cannot stop it.

If death comes knocking today, how prepared are you financially? What happens to all the money and assets you have acquired when you die? How do you ensure a smooth transfer of your investments to your survivors?

Thinking about your death is not taboo; it is financial wisdom. Death is a reminder that you are a human being. Every day draws you nearer to your grave. Death does not come with a siren. Death does not care about your financial goals and financial status.

As much as you wish to live long, death may come knocking faster than you planned. At any time, your final whistle may be blown. Life is so short.

If you live in a country ravaged by insecurity, you are one second away from dying. If you have an underlying health challenge, your chances of packing up anytime are higher.

Those who lost a financial member of the family during the COVID-19 pandemic understand the financial reality death can cause to one’s survivors.

No matter how much you invest in your children’s education, it is easier for them to rise financially when you transfer wealth to them. No rule says that your children and loved ones must suffer so much to build wealth too when you already have every resource they need.

It is easier to build generational wealth when you consciously add wealth transfer to your financial plans. Donald Trump’s wealth has everything to do with his father’s inheritance. $413million is not a joke.

There are 5 reasons to add death to your financial plans today;

1. What happens to your loved ones after your death?

In most African cultures, some siblings of the deceased may show up from nowhere to claim their ‘rights’ and lay hold of the deceased’s properties. This should not happen to you.

Your exit should not bring about disputes and hardship to your innocent loved ones. Some families lost everything and went back to the trenches at the demise of a financial member.

There are situations where parents leave their children behind without appointing a suitable guardian or allocating the finances to cater for them and their education. This implies that the children’s fate is left to chance.

It is unfortunate that most spouses are clueless about the financial dealings and are left in the dark if their partner passes away. It is hard for a widow(er) to raise 3 children conveniently and it is harder when a spouse dies with significant assets that cannot be accessed by anyone.

That your spouse may become a widow(er) is beyond your control. That your children may become orphans may not be your fault. Life happens.

But if your spouse and children become poorer and your loved ones or aged parents become beggars and laughing stocks in the street after your passing away (despite your assets), it is all your fault.

The angels at the gate should wipe you cord on your neck for acting foolishly. Don’t make that costly mistake.

2. What happens to your properties after your death?

When thinking about what may happen when you die, writing a legal will is the starting point.

A will is a clear instruction or written document that states how you want your assets to be distributed. It designates who gets any assets you own. A will makes your wishes formal. It names the person who carries out your wishes after you die.

Anyone within or outside your family can also benefit from a will. No rule states that your female children are not entitled to your inheritance.

A partner from a divorce or second marriage can be a beneficiary. Your stepchildren and lifelong friends can also be beneficiaries.

Writing a will is not only for the rich. Even if all you have is a 2005 Toyota Corolla car, you can write a will. Writing a will is not only for polygamous families.

A will can be printed or hand-written and the information of each asset should be explicitly stated. Some companies offer online services for drafting a digital will.

For the will to be legally binding, it has to be signed by at least 2 witnesses who are not beneficiaries listed on the will. The will can be kept in a probate registry, a personal safe deposit box, a trusted friend or relative, or a deposit box at a bank.

It is mythical to believe that you should only write a will when you are ready to die. You are not too young to write a will. Anyone of legal age and required mental capacity should have a will. As soon as you start to acquire assets, you can begin to make a will. You can change your will after making it due to prevailing changes in circumstances.

A blind, deaf or illiterate can make a will in as much as the content of the will is communicated to them in a known language before witnesses. A married woman is legally fit to make a will.

If you want your property to be given out over some time, rather than as a lump sum, a trust can make that possible. A trust is a legal arrangement that offers control over your property after you die.

If you truly value your loved ones, don’t die without leaving a will. If you truly want to rest in peace tomorrow, you need to leave a will.

Many families have been torn apart because of this negligence. Can you proudly say that you have lived a good and fulfilled life when your families are killing themselves over your inheritance?

It is not enough to transfer your assets to your loved ones, transfer your good name too. Even if you do not have any assets, your good name is an asset.

3. What happens to the debts you owe after your death?

Many people will be shocked when they eventually discover that their late parents or spouse used their house as collateral in the bank. You need to list out all your debts so that your siblings can keep paying them for you.

Read also: Rising death toll of children in private schools

Knowing that you are not leaving any mess behind for your loved ones gives them the peace to let go. This can make a significant difference to the people that you care about.

4. What happens to your bank account after your death?

If you wish to support a surviving spouse or family members who depend on your income, you need to add death to your financial plans.

There is a type of bank account that you should set up before your passing to make things easy after your death. You can add Payable On Death (POD) or Transfer On Death (TOD) beneficiaries to your bank account.

This is the cheapest and simplest way to ensure that your survivors have easy access to your bank account after your passing. The beneficiaries will not be able to access your bank account directly until you pass.

After your demise, all they need to show is a copy of your death certificate and a valid government ID. Make sure that the names of beneficiaries correspond to the name in the official identity.

You can also add joint account holders with rights of survivorship. That is, your bank account is transferred to your survivors when you pass on.

5. What happens to your digital assets after your death?

For me, apart from my assets, I want my loved ones to keep making money from my published books long after I am gone.

If you do online transactions or use a digital bank or have digital assets, make sure that you write out your account numbers, relevant contact lists, emails, login details, and passwords and keep this information where it can be accessible after your demise.

Don’t just store these details online, have physical copies of every relevant document. Some digital platforms have built-in features that allow you to transfer this information to your survivors.

For the sake of your loved ones, ensure to put your house in order. Life should not be difficult for your loved ones after your passing.

Consult a lawyer for specific guidelines.

Ndimele is a personal finance coach, business consultant and author.

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