Seize the Day

It is funny how, sometimes, unexpected events can suddenly change one’s course of action. I wasn’t going to write this piece: I was going to write on a completely different subject, but a chance meeting changed my mind.

I was walking past an old haunt, and decided to look in, briefly, hoping to have a quick word with the manager on a business matter. Just inside the door was an old friend who I have known since arranging a mortgage for him, some 30 years ago. I greeted him warmly and enquired as to his health. “So, so,” he replied and asked if I could spare a few minutes for a chat. The Boss wasn’t available so I sat down for a word with my old pal. Commenting on his not being his usual chipper self, he told me that he had just been diagnosed with cancer, and asked if I would help him to “get all his ducks in a row.” Needless to say I agreed I would, and said how sorry I was to hear his news.

“No-one should be sad,” he said, “my life has been a great adventure. I have travelled the world; seen countless beautiful things; met many wonderful people; and seen many of my heroes playing beautiful music.” (his passion) “Millions of children are born with little or nothing to eat or drink, and die without even having had the benefit of a basic education.” It is unlike me to be lost for words, but I was, for a minute.

You may wonder what all this has to do with finance, but my friend asked specifically about Equity Release to provide some extra cash, to finance his ‘to do list’ and in these circumstances it is important to have a current will in place, to ensure that one’s estate is distributed in the desired way. Another useful thing to consider is putting some assets (principally policies) in a Trust. This will sidestep the sometimes tortuous process of probate, and ensure that these assets go straight into the hands of the beneficiaries.

End-of-life planning isn’t just for the twilight years. It is something that can start relatively early, principally when we first have financial or family liabilities. In these cases, it is an unexpected death that is protected against by way of Life Assurance policies, but as the years pass the inevitable becomes more so. Moreover, it is worth remembering that in the UK people are five times more likely to protect against death than critical illness; and critical illness policies outsell Income Protection polices, again by five-to-one. The single, most incorrect statement ever must be “It’ll never happen to me”, but that seems to be the subtitle to most people’s lives, in some way, shape, or form. However, too often ‘it’ does and, far too often, no protection is in place to help to deal with the effects. I would be amongst the first to advocate not spending so much on insurance and committing such an amount to savings and investments that you can’t afford to have a life. But it is as vital to allocate something towards protection provisions, as it is to save and invest. Life can be too short!

Sorry if I’ve been a bit low-key this time. Next issue I shall be full of the joys of Summer. Until then, seize the day!

David Foot


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