Death – The Only Compulsory Thing in Life

Few of us want to think about dying – especially as life often gives us more than enough to think about. It can help those who are close to us (at what is usually a very difficult time) if we make it clear what we would like to happen when we are no longer around.

Making a will.

If you don’t make a will your property (the estate) must be shared according to the rules of intestacy which means only your spouse or your married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit your estate. The rules also apply to an estate when a will is not legally valid. It is generally advisable to use a solicitor to draw up a will (unless it is straightforward) or to check a will you have drawn up to make sure it will have the effect you want.

Mistakes commonly made in preparing wills include:

  •  not being aware of the formal requirements needed to make a will legally valid,
  •  failing to take account of all the money and property available,
  • failing to take account of the possibility that a beneficiary may die before the person making the will,
  • changing the will (if alterations are not signed and witnessed, they are invalid),
  • being unaware of the effect of marriage, a registered civil partnership, divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership on a will,
  • being unaware of the rules which enable dependants to claim from the estate if they believe a will does not adequately provide for them (this can invalidate the will).

Other things to consider

It would also make things less difficult for your family if you make clear your wishes regarding organ donation for transplant. This will be easier if you are on the NHS Organ Donor Register, carry a donor card and have discussed your donation plans with your family. Most organ donations come from people who have died while on a ventilator in a hospital intensive care unit.

It is helpful to have discussed your wishes regarding funeral arrangements with your family or the person close to you who will arrange the funeral – whether you want to be buried or cremated for example.  If there are no relatives or friends to arrange a funeral, in England and Wales, the local authority or health authority will arrange a simple funeral and will recover the cost from any money left by the person who died.

According to the Royal London National Funeral Cost Index Report 2017, the average cost of a funeral with a traditional burial is about £4,250 and the average cost of a funeral with cremation is around £3,300. The person who arranges the funeral is responsible for paying the final bill and it is important to know where the money will come from. You might want to take out a pre-paid funeral plan which should cover the cost of the funeral. You may also have an insurance policy which will cover funeral costs. In other cases, relatives may need to borrow money until the person’s money and property are sorted out. Some funeral directors will allow payment to be delayed until this has happened.

So don’t spoil living by worrying about dying – just give some thought as to how you would like things to be after you have gone.

Worried about anything else?

Citizens Advice Waverley can almost certainly help. For free, independent, confidential advice on a range of topics, from debt to immigration or housing and benefits to worries about how you are treated at work call:0344 848 7969 or visit

Citizens Advice Waverley is a registered charity. You can help local people get the support they need by making a donation to Citizens Advice Waverley at Your donation stays local and will ensure we are here to help local people when they need it most.

You can follow Citizens Advice Waverley on:

Share this article