What happens after you die?

There are some mysteries to life that being British are seemingly awkward to discuss, especially with our close family. I have no idea if this is true in other cultures and countries, perhaps not, but that is still the way I perceive it here in the UK.

Sex, money and how we wash; these are just some of the topics to avoid. Then there is the question of death. This has even more unpleasant undertones than the other subjects mentioned. When children question their parents or grandparents there is just a hint of vulturism; asking your forebears about when they are going to die and what is going to happen, is ghoulish however delicately the approach to the conversation.

If parents or grandparents start explaining what will happen to themselves or their children it immediately and naturally raises claims of morbid interest. It does not make for an easy or comfortable discussion; invariably it is left for another day.

Notwithstanding the awkward nature of the subject we firmly believe that it is a worthwhile exercise to prepare yourself. Perhaps now more than ever, with sudden illness and even death haunting countries around the world? This is not about COVID-19, but there is no denying that the virus outbreak sharpens our thinking about planning for the worst.

This short piece will just lay out the practical procedures that you need to think about when someone dies, and what will take place for you when you die. It is useful to know, and there is a sense of security to be taken from knowing the steps that are going to be followed and what you can easily and readily do today to get a better outcome should the worst occur.

The first thing that should happen when you die is that your death will be registered and this should occur within five days. It is possible that a doctor may report your death to a coroner if you died violently, or for sudden, unexplained or unnatural reasons. A coroner must hold an inquest if the cause of death is still unknown, or if the person:

  • possibly died a violent or unnatural death
  • died in prison or police custody

Once your death has been registered your funeral can be arranged. At this point hopefully those who love you will be able to come forward and make sure that your wishes are followed through. That might include what music is played, what food is served, the readings that take place and any other details that will help people see you off in style.

If you have used a service like Kwaetus you will be able to detail physical markers, like planting a tree or dedicating a bench in your favourite spot and managing your digital assets. All of this really eases the work and stress of those closest to you and helps them to remember you well. You have to imagine that in one hundred years there might be relatives of yours that will be curious to read about your life and learn about your world. You can write the script to help ensure that the picture is as you see it.

Then someone will use the UK Government’s Tell Us Once service to make sure that the government knows of your death. Following on from this there may be bereavement benefits, taxes and pension issues to be worked through. Having a professional executor, some legal and or accounting help can really make a difference if you are leaving a complex or large estate behind. Certainly your loved ones will want to be confident that your will doesn’t have any nasty surprises and if you have left money to charities then they will be informed. All of this has a positive impact and helps mitigate the sadness that all those who love you will be feeling.

Your estate will be valued, and once again if you have used a service like Kwaetus, it will be easier for people to find all the assets, accounts, valuables and insurance details that there are. Sometimes this is one of the most painful and laborious tasks, so if you can record things before you die it is a big plus.

Once all the admin work is done there might be an annual remembrance that you have left money to pay for, so that people can meet, swap stories and memories and this helps keep the link between us all alive.

Now you have read this, do you feel better about your death? I do hope that your experience is much like mine; that is once I started to organise and think about it, the whole prospect was much less threatening and I feel more positive.

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