No one likes to think about what will happen when they die, but planning ahead will save your loved ones a lot of heartache. Bucket lists have become increasingly popular in recent years, listing a number of things you want to do/achieve before you 'kick the bucket'. 

We've partnered with Carr Mitchell to craft a nine-step financial bucket list. It isn't complicated or time-consuming, but it will ensure that your loved ones won’t have to struggle with a complicated estate or financial uncertainty after you're gone.

 1.  Write a will

This is the most important thing you can do. Dying without writing a will (known as 'dying intestate') can lead to all sorts of complications, which means that your estate may not go to the people you want it to. If you die intestate, your assets are divided up according to the law. 

If you’re married with children, the spouse gets the first £250,000 and 50% of what remains, with the rest going to your children. If you’re unmarried, your parents will receive your estate (or other blood family members if your parents are deceased).

Finally, make sure you keep your will up-to-date. If you divorce, separate, marry or any other major change happens in your life, be sure to update your will. Otherwise, you may end up leaving your money to someone you really didn't want to leave it to.

2. Look after your pets

Who would look after your pets if you weren't around anymore? If you have someone in mind, ask them if they would be prepared to do this for you. If you don't have anyone who could help, the RSPCA can. You can sign up to its free Home for Life service, which will take in any animals you leave behind after your death and endeavour to find a new home for them. Simply sign up and make a note of your decision in your will. 

3. Create a financial fact file

Does your partner or family have details of all your accounts? This may seem like such an insignificant thing, but trying to hunt down a savings account or work out how to pay the gas bill can cause unnecessary stress for grieving family members. It’s easy to avoid - simply set up a spreadsheet that lists all your bank and savings account details (account numbers and sort codes will do), credit cards, and any household accounts, such as your gas or telephone provider.

4. Detail your digital estate

When you’re making a note of all your accounts, don't forget about your digital assets. Over the past decade, many of us have built up substantial online estates.

Digital assets, such as music and e-books, cannot form part of your estate and be formally handed down when you die. Make sure your partner or family member knows your login details if you've shared your music or e-book libraries, so they can continue to enjoy them. You should also include details of your social media accounts so these can be closed down.

5. Don't forget your pension

Many people don't realise that they can pass on their pension pot as well as their savings when they die. The new pension freedoms allow for even more flexibility with pension pots, so be sure to review what you've got. The rules on pensions have changed a lot this year. One of the key differences is that you can now pass your pension savings down to your beneficiaries after your death without the taxman taking the bulk of it. 

6. Think about inheritance tax

If your estate is worth more than £325,000 when you die (including the value of any part of your home that you own), 40% of your estate above that will be taken by the taxman. To reduce that, you need to start Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning. This can mean giving away money within the IHT gifting rules. In this instance, you can give away up to £3,000 a year, wedding gifts, and small amounts without being liable for IHT. Anything you give away outside of the gift rules will be liable if you die within seven years of making the gift. 

7. Power of Attorney

Beyond thinking about what would happen when you die, it makes sense to consider what you would want to happen if you could no longer make decisions for yourself.

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that nominates someone of your choosing to handle your affairs if you lose the mental capacity to do so. It’s a good idea to set it up at the same time as getting your will drawn up.

8. Consider life insurance

If you have financial dependents, such as young children or elderly relatives, you should consider life insurance. Taking out a policy while you are relatively young can be inexpensive and provide invaluable assistance if the worst happens. Level-term life assurance guarantees a lump sum payout if you die within a set period of time, so you could arrange for a £150,000 payout if you die within 15 years. 

9. Plan your funeral

Set aside some money to cover your big send-off. Funerals are the fourth biggest expense of your lifetime – or rather, just beyond your lifetime – so it’s well worth thinking about. Making a note in your will of what you would want in terms of flowers, songs, and ceremony types can really help your family. 

We've partnered with Carr Mitchell, an online Wills specialist. Try their 30 second questionnaire to help find the right Will for you:

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