Wealth

Inheritance 101: How to Prepare Your Finances for When You Die

Getting your affairs in order.
ILLUSTRATOR Jorel Arcebal
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Suck at money? Congrats. You’re part of the 99 percent of people in their 20s floundering when it comes to finance. Adulting is hard, and money is harder—especially when it’s your own and not your parents. My Two Cents is here to break down everything you need to know about finance, business, and entrepreneurship. We’ll tackle all the basics, from how to get a business permit to how to invest in stocks, to educate the fledgling adults on how to not go broke.

Welcome to the idiot’s guide to money. Lesson #30: Dealing with inheritance, death, and money.

Death is the debt all men must pay. Everyone knows that, yet so few prepare for the inevitability. You live life to the fullest forgetting that death itself is a heavy burden for those you leave behind. Many have dealt with death in the family and understand the headache that comes with all the government paperwork and inheritance forms. The absurd amount of paperwork is almost enough to make you forget your grief, but then you're faced with a bigger problem: handling the finances of someone who’s deceased.

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A great gift you can give your loved ones even after death is to have your affairs in order before you pass. Instead of writing about how to deal with finances when someone dies, we're going to spin the table and focus on what you shoul do before you die.

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Here’s how to get your affairs in order (and basically prepare to die):

1| Make a Will

Wills aren’t normalized in the Philippines since many come from big families, but having a notarized will can help ensure your wishes are followed after you pass. Decide who gets what, when, and how much. Determine their inheritance so they won't be left with nothing when you pass. A will can put an end to unwanted family feuds as it’s legally binding, at least most of the time.

2| Share Your Account Details

Or make a child or spouse the joint owner of a bank account. This will save you a trip to the bank that might require all sorts of documents to access the account. You can share your account details with a trusted family member so that they’re prepared to pay for any spontaneous medical bills or funeral costs when the time comes.

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Inform them of all the accounts you have open (savings, stocks, credit cards), so they know which ones to close when it’s time. This is important as your accounts could be hacked after your death and the bank wouldn’t be the wiser.

3| Pay Your Funeral, Cremation, Burial Costs

It’s too damn expensive to die in the Philippines. Burial and funeral costs can get absurdly high, and even just the cost of getting people to dig a hole in a plot of land can hurt your wallet. Decide what sort of burial you want to have, whether that’s with a funeral or a wake or simply a cremation, and then find the funeral home or crematorium you want to take care of you in death.

Most of these establishments offer installment options that you can settle while you’re alive. For issuance of death certificates, embalming, cremation, etc., these establishments can cost you around P20,000 to P80,000. Some cities offer free services for residents, so look up the policies of your city.

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Start paying for the land you want to be buried in as soon as possible, because land is no joke in the Philippines. Depending on the memorial park, it can cost anywhere from P30,000 to P300,000.

This doesn’t even include the cost for funeral/wake food, the flowers, or even the church service if you opt to have one.

Cremation is definitely a more cost-efficient option, and it’s something to consider if you want to save your family the burden of extensive funeral expenses.

4| Buy Life and Health Insurance

Something common among Filipino parents is the tendency to purchase life and health insurance for the children, not the parents. While this is a considerate decision, the children will benefit more from the parents’ insurance than their own.

If you have kids or plan to one day, invest in a good life insurance plan that will support them even if you’re no longer around, especially if you’re the breadwinner. Calculate how much your family would need to survive at least five years without you, and find a plan that matches that amount. The younger you are, the more affordable the life insurance premium, so you might as well get started ASAP.

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5| Settle Your Debts

Don’t leave behind utang to your family. In some countries, like Japan, debt is inherited when a person dies. And it’s kind of similar to the situation in the Philippines. If a loved one dies before their debt is paid, their heirs can be blocked from accessing their estate, funds, and basically their inheritance until the debt is paid. 

Regardless, debt must be paid one way or another, so it’s best to settle all your debts before you kick the bucket so as to not let the debt haunt your loved ones.

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About The Author
Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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