Things that make you say... Why???
You know that feeling you get at the end of an unnecessarily complicated process?
You grab a much-needed glass of wine, sit back and ask (some of us might scream), "Why didn't anyone tell me about this earlier?"
People continue to experience the same problems because we find it uncomfortable talking about death and dying.
We're changing that.
When someone close to you dies, we want you to appreciate their life rather than thinking about the added time, money or frustration you could have avoided.
None of us can avoid death but, you can prevent the unnecessary problems caused by a lack of awareness or planning ahead of time.
You don't know what you don't know - but we do.
We've compiled a list of the common reasons people lose time, money, and patience by finding out when it's too late to act.
WHY - IT CAN TAKE SO MUCH TIME
1. I wasn't aware of the information that would be needed
Everyone needs information, and it can be challenging to find when you can't ask the person with all the answers anymore.
Funeral directors will register the death for you. To do this, they will need specific information like the maiden name of the mother of the deceased, their parents' occupations. If it is one of your parents who has died, this is information about your grandmother. They also need details of marriages and all children born. This sometimes includes deceased children who, in some situations, have never been discussed.
2. I didn't have the proper authority to act
Financial institutions, Government departments, aged care providers and many other official organisations will look for proof that you can act on behalf of the deceased.
If you don't set this up in advance while the person has the legal capacity to act, this can be difficult to navigate.
3. I couldn't find the correct contact details for everyone
Locating contact details for organisations is easy if you know what you're looking for. But, you may only have 24 hours to a week to track down the contact details of family and friends to let everyone know what's happened and plans for the funeral or other ceremonies.
Even if you have access to someone's phone contacts or address book, how do you determine who they would and wouldn't want to be notified if they haven't told you?
4. I was nervous about making decisions others might question or I would later regret
Choosing flowers for someone is usually pretty straightforward. It's something we might talk about at a dinner party or out shopping one day. What we don't talk about is the type of coffin we would like or the music we want to be played at our funeral - although sometimes we might get emotional and tell our best friend, "I want you to play this song at my funeral" - maybe they'll remember or, perhaps you both had a little too much wine that night.
Some people don't even discuss their preference for burial or cremation - imagine finding out later you made the wrong decision. If you're wondering, this does happen.
WHY - IT CAN COST SO MUCH MONEY
1. I incurred late fees by not closing accounts straight away
Many people set up direct debits to pay regular premiums. If you don't close an account when it is no longer needed, chances are any fees won't be refunded. Think account keeping fees, software subscriptions or streaming services like Netflix or Spotify.
2. I didn't even know the service existed
Many providers won't shut a service off when a bill is late. They'll simply apply a late fee or keep billing a credit card they have on file. Maybe you're not aware that a bill is outstanding because the invoice has been sent to an email account you're not aware of or, it's been posted, and you don't live in the area and missed the letter.
We haven't come across many providers who will reach out to let you know that you're paying for their service and not using it - it's not their problem.
3. I was thinking with my heart, not my head
When it's the last thing you can do for someone you love, it's easy to feel you need to spend more than you possibly should and regret it later. Consider that a funeral is all about coming together to celebrate life. Blowing the budget on a nicer coffin, handles, or flowers can feel right at the time but can lead to regret later.
Your loved one wouldn't want to see you in financial hardship due to their funeral costs.
4. Unclaimed or unfound money (most people don't even know when this happens)
We don't think it will happen to us because it isn't something we hear about. Why? Because if we knew, we would claim it.
Every year $3.5 million goes unclaimed in shares, bank accounts, super funds, insurance policies, safe deposit boxes, cash stashed in hiding places. ASIC provides a free service to locate unclaimed funds.
Take 5 mins to check if you have unclaimed money on the https://moneysmart.gov.au/find-unclaimed-money.
WHY - I LOST MY PATIENCE (and maybe took it out on my keyboard)
1. Constantly being told, "We need to speak to the account holder"
It doesn't matter how many times you tell customer support it isn't possible. They have processes to protect our privacy that must be followed. If you don't have the proper authority to access accounts, there isn't much you can do other than follow their processes and be patient; it can take time.
2. Being frozen out of bank accounts until I could produce an original death certificate
We hear this story a lot! Most people assume obtaining a death certificate after someone dies will be easy and fast.
It can be. Provided you have the required information, the funeral director will take care of everything but, it can take up to four weeks. The problems happen because there are many things you won't be able to do until you have a registered death certificate.
Many people run on the assumption they'll cover the costs of the funeral service, flowers, catering, service books and maybe even travel expenses, with funds from the deceased person's account. However, without the proper authorisation in place ahead of time, these accounts are usually frozen to protect against fraud.
Depending on what you choose, you'll be looking at anywhere from $5,000AUD and up. Experiencing this can feel like a pile on in the pressure department when we're least equipped to deal with it.
So, if you don't have a lazy few grand lying around, make sure you're legally nominated to access the accounts of anyone you may be responsible for.
3. Finding out at the end of the journey that it didn't need to be that hard
You don't have to take our word for it. Ask anyone responsible for managing the affairs of someone after they die. Knowing you can avoid these common problems ahead of time will save a lot of problems later.
So, why do we still not talk about this?
If your friend tells you their electricity or gas is only in their partner's name, will you blurt out, "Oh, that's not a good idea. If they die, it will be a real headache for you trying to get it in your name" or, choose to keep quiet and avoid being seen as "that" person?
Although excellent advice, it is also a pretty good conversation stopper. Tread lightly friends but please don't shy away from helping spread the word.
Agree others need to know, but not quite comfortable talking about it yet?
Everyone can benefit from knowing these things ahead of time although it's not an easy topic to raise. You can contribute to increasing awareness and helping people be more prepared for dealing with the loss of a loved one.
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PLEASE NOTE: Our advice should be considered general in nature. We do not provide any legal, tax, medical or other professional advice and would advise that you seek expert professional or medical advice before making any decisions based on your individual circumstances.