Being Prepared for Death

Being prepared for death can lighten the burden facing our loved ones in the event of our own death.

It is common for "civilised westerners" to avoid thinking about, talking about, or dealing with the prospect of our own death or those close to us at the risk of being morbid or, more probably, having to confront our own mortality.

Often it is not a case of avoidance but ignorance.

If you think you would like to take responsibility for the affairs following your death these simple suggestions may help.

1) Make a Will

Any person of legal age, married or single should have a Will.

A will is a legal document which enables you to convey your wishes regarding distribution of your assets.

If you die without a Will it may cause unnecessary hardship and distress to your loved ones and dependants. Assets are then divided according to a formula set out in Government legislation. A distribution of assets under this formula may not be a reflection of your wishes. If you die without a Will and your relatives can't be traced, your estate will be paid to the State Government.

A homemade Will is not recommended. The consequences of a "do-it-yourself" Will are often quite devastating. You should be aware that certain people can contest the terms of your Will under the Family Provisions Act. To ensure peace of mind your Will should be prepared by a person with expertise in this area such as a solicitor. A poorly prepared Will can create more problems than having no Will at all.

When making a Will the choice of an executor is vital. Among other things the executor should be someone who is likely to outlive you and will act independently and without bias in the interests of the beneficiaries.

It is often the case that a relative or friend is nominated as the executor but, due to the complexities of the role in today's legal minefield, many are choosing to appoint a legal representative.

Your Will should be reviewed whenever there is a change in circumstances and, in any event, at least every five years to ensure it accords with your current wishes.

Remember, marriage automatically revokes a Will (unless it was prepared in contemplation of marriage). Divorce does not revoke a Will, although some rights of the former spouse under the Will generally lapse.

In the area of funeral requirements all of the following requests can be specified in the Will document:- choice of Funeral Director; church or religious affiliation; wishes as to burial or cremation; the venue for the funeral service; details of cemetery plots; memorial instructions and niche for cremated ashes. Your Will should be kept in a safe place which should be known to your next of kin or legal representative.

2) Pre Arranged Funeral

Government action in 1979 closed down many funds, which were found lacking in safeguards. Following a considerable number of requests from the general public, the Government realized that the community required some means by which provision could be made in advance for funeral costs. For this purpose legislation was passed and under the Funeral Fund Act 1979 it is now permitted for certain groups to be registered as "Funeral Funds" and to address themselves to the public and seek contributions for the purpose of ensuring funeral services at pre-determined costs.

Fry Bros offers the services of approved Funeral Funds. Members consult with us about their choice of funeral arrangements. The pre-determined cost is then paid into the Fund and that service is guaranteed by Fry Bros regardless of when the death occurs, or the increased cost of funeral services at the time of death. The funeral service will be tailored to meet your specific needs and documented.

A copy is given to you for safekeeping (generally it would be kept with the Will). When the services are required the family need only contact Fry Bros and we will arrange the funeral as agreed. There are no extra costs that the surviving family need pay unless they make specific requests that are not included in the original Contract.

This Fund is exempt from income and assets tests and, as such, does not affect pension entitlements. As no interest is paid directly to you by the Fund there is no tax to pay on the interest, in fact, covers the cost increases of the funeral over the years. Payments may be made in a lump sum or by instalments over a two-year period.

To find out more about Pre Paid Funerals contact Fry Bros.