Alex Hutton, along with her tax-expert-cum-vicar father, are passionate about helping people prepare their affairs for the end of their life.
I was at a party the other night and was asked the perfectly normal question of “what do you do?” by some well-mannered 30-year-old Londoner. He, I think, wasn’t expecting my response as it left him looking slightly red-faced and bewildered. “I work in death and rock 'n' roll.” He choked a little on his glass of lukewarm Sauvignon and I embellished a bit more to ease his discomfort. I have been casually dishing out this line since I started working with my Dad in developing a book to help people get their affairs in order before they die. I then also spend the rest of my time as a singer-songwriter under the name Alex Kate.
What I have learned is that death is the ultimate conversation killer (reference to the recent Barbie Film). But even so, it’s important to talk about. The Church is great at helping us work out what comes after death, and so we can have immense hope when we trust in Jesus we will be with him after we die. However, sometimes the practical side of what we leave behind is avoided.
The Church is great at helping us work out what comes after death, however, sometimes the practical side is avoided.
My Dad was a tax expert for 30 years and now a vicar in the Church of England and so is eager to help people with both aspects of preparing for death. I first experienced a life changing death when I was 14 years old. My auntie suddenly died of lung cancer. It was devastating. At the time I wasn’t aware of all the paperwork that overwhelmed my uncle. Thankfully she came to faith just before she passed away, so we were assured of where she is now.
Recently a close friend of mine lost her father and he, although a banker, didn't have his affairs in order and it landed on the shoulders of my 34-year-old friend to sift through everything and make sure the tax man was happy. It was pretty traumatic for her to say the least. The stress that I witnessed my friend go through exemplified how important it is to get the message out there. Here are three tips to get you started with getting your affairs in order:
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Tip 1: “Keep it secret, keep it safe”
Log all your passwords for everything in an online vault (e.g. Last Pass) then tell your trusted family members the master password for them to store themselves. If you are afraid of tech then pop them on a sheet of paper and hide them somewhere safe.
Tip 2: “An apple a day keeps the tax man away”
There are handy little tricks to decrease inheritance tax for your loved ones. One lesser known tactic is about being able to save on items you own. If you decide you want to give certain objects (pictures etc.) to loved ones but still want a little bit more time enjoying them, you can get them valued and then pay the individual a market rent (maybe around one per cent) of the value. If you live on for seven years after this, no inheritance tax will be payable by the beneficiaries.
Tip 3: “All you need is love”
Relationships are more important than stuff. Wills can create rifts and people can get greedy. Do everything in your power to focus on this when writing your will and when communicating with your next of kin what might happen and if there are significant assets to be divided up in different proportions. It’s so important to communicate what will happen earlier rather than later, Highlighting always that relationship is paramount.
If you want to find out more on how to get your affairs in you can get a copy of Matthew Hutton’s book Your Last Gift here.