You’ve no doubt heard the saying before, the one about how two things in life are guaranteed. And so you probably know that the answer is death and taxes. But have you considered a third. That time is a relentless beast that waits for no-one.
I always find myself wondering how it is possible that another year has gone by quicker than the last. I have a theory (if you’ll indulge me).
The Time Paradox (ooh it sounds scientific – don’t worry, it isn’t)
When you are a newborn baby, to live a second day is to live your whole life over again. Clearly the day is still only 24 hours, but the baby’s perspective of the day is so different. Fast forward to 40 and you find you have to live another 40 years (if you are so privileged) before you get to live your whole life again. The perspective has therefore changed. As a 40 year old, to live another day is to live such a small fraction of your existing life that it is inevitable that it passes by quickly, and that it does so more quickly each year as you age.
And so what of it.
Time is a luxury we don’t all have – and even for those who feel it a luxury, it is not guaranteed.
I recently read the book “they both die at the end” by Adam Silvera, and what an eye opener that was. It is about two boys who find out they are going to die that day. The system in place is not specific enough to be able to predict the cause or time of death, just the day. And so armed with this knowledge the person must decide each and every move knowing that, inevitably, they cannot avoid death no matter what they do.
This got me thinking.
How would a person live their last day if they started it fit and healthy but knew it was their last. Would you tell anyone? While many hope to live a good, long life, with minimal health issues, the truth is, we have no idea what’s coming next – and that’s what makes life exciting and scary in equal measure.
And while I fully appreciate no-one likes to think about their death, I see too many issues arise post death because people were unwilling to think about the inevitable before it was too late.
Now clearly no-one can leave everything perfectly in place, and for those that come close it is sadly likely to have been because they suffered with a terminal illness. However, we can all do more to prepare for the end – and so these are my thoughts:
- Think about what you want to happen to all your belongings after you have died – and get advice on whether that will happen automatically or whether you will need a Will.
- Think about what you want to happen to your body after you die – and get those wishes in a Will or, at the very least, speak to your family and friends about what you would like to happen.
- If you have young children, think about who you would like to look after them if you were not around. Many parents (me included) find this one of the hardest things to consider. Clearly no-one can replace a parent, but who in your life may be capable of stepping into your shoes as best as any second in command could.
- Think about what you would like to happen if you are no longer able to look after your own finances or make decisions about your health – and get advice to make sure the right legal documents are in place.
- Be aware that some things you may chose to do with your finances will have a bearing on your loved ones (or those who received such money) both immediately and after you die. Get specialist tax advice from a proven expert. That way you can be clear on what you can do and what you shouldn’t do, both during your lifetime and after your passing.
- Keep a record of your finances – who do you bank with, do you have investments and savings.
- Draw a family tree. That way anyone dealing with your estate after you are gone knows who everyone is (it is also a great keepsake for future generations).
And most importantly. Live like tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, because it isn’t.
Cara Hough, Partner