In this blog, we have a guest blogger share her emotional experience of losing her Mum, with the positive comfort of having both a practical and financial plan to carry out her Mum’s wishes. She wants to encourage others to think about their loved ones when the time comes and even a simple will and basic life insurance plan can bring much comfort at a time of extreme grief.
My mum died.
That’s the first time I have actually written those words down. I have said it out loud quite a lot recently and it still causes my throat to constrict.
At 81 years of age, she was certainly of the generation who wanted to make sure “there was enough to bury me”. She had a Prudential life insurance policy that actually started in 1998, the payments for which were £3.00 per month and were collected, in cash by a Prudential Representative who knocked on her front door and recorded the payment in mums little red payment book and had a little chat every time. That small monthly amount resulted in £6,000 to pay for her funeral and burial. In 2012 she also decided to take out another small insurance policy to pay for a “party” after her funeral – she loved a good party my Mum and was absolutely determined that none of us would have to pay for anything relating to her death – and she would be delighted to know we didn’t – everything was just about covered down to the penny – it’s as if she knew!
She did not write her Will until in her early 60s when she was listed for a quadruple heart bypass and suddenly, I think her mortality was in the forefront of her mind and she wrote a simple will.
Divorced since she was in her early 30s and with four children and several grandchildren at that time, she was specific what she wanted to happen to her assets. She had worked so hard to own her own house following her divorce and, never really having any money herself she was enormously proud that she had something to leave to her beloved family.
Her Will included individual sums for grandchildren but we had not mentioned great grandchildren (perhaps she did not think she would be around for that) so we updated it to include this latest generation. She gave specific instructions for the type of funeral she wanted, who she wanted to read her Eulogy (none of her family as it happens 😊), what hymns she wanted at the service and where she wanted any donations to be sent.
A few years earlier, she completed all the necessary paperwork to ensure she could be buried with her Mum and Dad – this was so especially important to her and her instructions on it were clear.
So, when in March this year she sadly passed away, funeral planning commenced. The family revisited the Will and with all her carefully thought through wishes, it made what was such an emotional time so much easier. There are some incredibly good resources with various checklists of what to do when someone dies which is excellent practical advice but an action to “contact a funeral director” – if you don’t actually know what type of funeral your loved one wanted where do you even start? We were literally able to go down the checklist with the Will beside us and follow her instructions. She kept all her life insurance documentation in one place, together with the deeds to the grave so this was extremely easy for us to access.
The COVID restrictions meant of course the funeral service was smaller than we would have wanted but what a beautiful celebration of her life we had. Distraught yes, but so comforted to know that we had done exactly what she wanted…………….. sort of. She had asked for Frank Sinatra “My Way” to be played at her funeral service but in the strict Catholic Church from her childhood were the service was held this was not permitted so instead, with the help of our wonderful Funeral Directors we gathered at the gravesite and, after all the prayers and official “stuff”, a Bose speaker started playing My Way (plus a few other of her favourite songs) – everyone sang, drank champagne and remembered mum in the best way possible.
And her party – we have a raincheck on that but her £1,200 from her second “party” policy is sitting there once restrictions are lifted and we will sing and dance all night to celebrate her life – because that’s what her Will said.
The death of a loved one is so awful but I can honestly say knowing that her legacy, both from a monetary and practical perspective is exactly how she wanted it, really helped us as a family.
Click to read the blog post You Need To Do A Will Now.