Talking about death is not an easy topic, and even when you try to bring it up, it is rate people will listen. Everyone thinks they will live forever… until something happens. When I used to work in the corporate world, I was flying about twice a week for the last three years I was employed. I am a very bad flyer, and every time I sat on a place, I thought about the thousand reasons why the plane could crash that day. So one day I came back home and I drafted a will, just in case. I put the instructions of how I would like my assets divided if something were to happen to me. I put all my account numbers, balances, personal information, and a list of all my investments in a safe place, then told my mother about it. And she laughed! It was like I had told her the biggest joke, that I would pass before her. Of course, I hope that doesn’t happen, but if it does, I don’t want to be a burden to anyone, and most importantly, I don’t want one cent of my hard earned money forgotten and ending up in the bank’s “dead accounts” balance or something. I was surprised of my mother’s reaction since her parents are aging and she was talking about how hard it was for her to have that awkward money talk with them about estate planning, and that everything they would say was just that it would be fine in the end. So I expected a better reaction… Anyway, those are tough topics to talk about, and if you check that video from Legal & General, you will find out that a lot of people would react like my mum.
Interesting how people have a hard time talking about death, and absolutely want to avoid the topic, right? I was amazed since many of the people being interviewed have their kids in tow, and the first thing I would want to do as a parent is protect my children from anything bad that could happen, make sure they are covered if something happens to me and I can’t provide for them anymore. One person even talks about how hard it was to see there was no will when her father passed, and to have to take care of everything with her sister. I have witnessed first hand families being ripped apart because everyone wanted the same part of the estate, and there was no will to say whose it was. One family I saw reading a pretty unfair will that left three siblings with very different inheritances, they complained about it, but then accepted it was their father’s last wishes and they would honour it. On the other hand, without a will, fights can go on for years.
This is a big money taboo, but like any difficult topic, it only gets easier when you talk about if more and more. Try to start small, just ask your partner what would happen if the household were to lose one job, then on another occasion you can talk about long term disability from work, before tackling death and estate planning. When you are young and single, this is the last thing you want to talk about, but once you marry and start having children, it is not just about you anymore, so you really need to have a long talk about it, to make things easier if the worst happens.