What is Death Positivity? 0

Death positivity is an attitude towards life and death that emphasises the importance of open and honest discussion about death and a re-familiarisation with end of life processes. Rather than treating death as something that should be hidden away and not talked or thought about, death positivity argues that individuals should take a more open approach to death, break down the taboo surrounding the topic and not shy away from the difficulties of thinking and talking about it. In recent years, death positivity has become increasingly popular, even solidifying into a burgeoning movement of activists and practitioners that hope to spread the message about death positivity and what it can do.

 

What death positivity is not

Death positivity does not involve the glorification or trivialisation of death, nor does it consider it a good thing. Instead, it preaches that death is an inevitable part of life that we all will experience at some point. It does not aim to force people toward a certain perspective or world view, but does encourage an open approach toward the subject of death. Death positivity is not associated with any single organisation or religious authority and can be considered more of an attitude than a doctrine or rigid set of beliefs.

 

Why is death positivity important?

For many, the taboo surrounding death prevents them from openly discussing their feelings or grieving in a way that suits or benefits them. This taboo means that we often hide death away and don’t confront it directly – an attitude that can have profoundly negative effects on our ability to make essential end of life choices and ensure everything is prepared for someone’s eventual passing. The fear surrounding death can lead to individuals bottling up emotions and thoughts that really do need to be released, potentially making a tough time even more difficult.

 

While everyone must be allowed to grieve in their own way, death positivity is about removing barriers to healthy grief; with the intended consequence that people are able to deal with the challenges and trials of bereavement in a constructive way.

 

Many also find that choosing to take on a more positive attitude when it comes to mortality can liberate them from anxiety when it comes to their own death, and as a result feel that they are free to make the most of their finite lives.

 positive attitude to death

Why is death positivity emerging now?

The attitudes reflected in the philosophy of death positivity are hardly new ideas. They are ideas that are re-emerging now as a response to modern society’s detachment from death. As medical treatment and methods have improved over the years, death has intruded less on our everyday lives and we are not faced with its reality as regularly as past societies would have been. This has resulted in a detachment from the reality of death and a desire to avoid it as a topic. Similarly, the way in which we respond to death (our end of life customs and traditions), have changed significantly, limiting our exposure to death even further. The death positivity movement has emerged in an attempt to provide some perspective on death and to encourage greater interaction with the issue.

 

What can you do?

Although there are a number of organisations, such as The Order of the Good Death, which provide a more focused outlet for the ideas of death positivity, it’s more akin to a state of mind that can be adopted by individuals at any time than it is to a movement which you can join. You can start by beginning to talk with loved ones about their end of life wishes and asking a number of important questions. For instance: Do you have a will? How do you want to spend your last moments? What kind of funeral would you want? What do you think happens after death? These are a just a few ideas but are a good place to start if you wish to open up discussions about death. There are also death cafes around the country that allow individuals to talk openly about mortality. If you or a loved one is approaching end of life, you may wish to enlist the services of an end of life doula. A doula can often be an enormous source of comfort for someone who is unwell.

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5 Excellent Reasons Why Every Parent Should Make a Will 0

A mum makes her will online with her two children

As a busy parent, death probably isn’t on your mind all that often.

Yes, young children do have an eerie ability to find and eat/climb/touch the one thing in any given place that will kill them. And yes, stepping on an abandoned Lego brick may, on occasion, make you feel like death is the preferable option. 

But death, and wills, often take a backseat to more immediate problems. Like giving lifts (so many lifts) and prising the Lego out of your feet.

That’s a mistake. For parents, making a will is one of the most important things you can do for your family. Here’s why!

 

5 reasons every parent should make a will

Half term is over. After a week of juggling a full house, you finally have some time to yourself. Why not take 15 minutes to make your will? After all, you can…

 

1) Choose guardians

If you were to die tomorrow, who would you want to raise your children?

The obvious choice isn’t always the best one. The grandparents are an option – but kids can be exhausting, even for young sprightly people. You also might have siblings, but how close do they live? Who actually feels the same way as you about things like discipline, religion, medical care and education? 

With a will, you get to pick guardians for your children in case something happens to you. That way, someone you trust will raise your kids the way you’d like them to be raised. 

 

2) Protect a partner

Can your partner pay rent without your help? Or the mortgage? Would they be able to afford child care without your salary in the mix?

If the answer is ‘no’, a will is essential. Why?

If you and your partner aren’t married, they aren’t automatically entitled to any of your estate when you die. 3.3 million couples in the UK are cohabiting without that ring on the finger. If you’re one of them, you’ll need a will to make sure your partner would inherit anything from you.

If you and your partner are married, they STILL won’t necessarily get everything! They’re entitled to the first £270,000, all your belongings, plus half of whatever is left over (the rest goes to your kids). 

This might seem fine and dandy. But there’s a real benefit to leaving your whole estate to your spouse: anything you give them can’t be taken in inheritance tax. Spending just £90 on a will could save your family thousands.

 

3) Protect your children

You might not want your partner to get everything if you die. After all, while we might like to imagine them mourning us forever, casting a single rose on our grave every day and never loving again, there’s a good chance your partner will find someone else – making their new partner their heir. 

So, you might prefer to leave a decent portion of your estate to your children: a little untouchable nest egg that spouse 2.0 won’t be able to touch. 

Similarly, your parents may well need care as they grow older. Without a will, they don’t have a claim to your estate unless you’re unmarried with no kids. You could set aside some funds to help them manage.

 

4) Prevent family disputes

No one wants their legacy to be a really bitter fight between their relatives. Least of all parents, after years of threatening to turn the car around if the kids don’t. stop. bickering. 

With a will, you can make your wishes clear, and make sure everything is fair, too.

If there’s a family heirloom that would be better off with your sister than your partner, you can pass that on: fight prevented. 

If you’re a step-parent, you might want to make sure your step-children get the same benefits as your biological children. Without a will, step-kids have no automatic claim to your estate, even if you’ve been acting as their parent for years.

 

5) And remember: it’s never too early

A lot of us put off making a will. Plenty of time for that later. But when you’re a parent, the consequences of dying without a will can be particularly painful for those left behind. And according to Child Bereavement UK, a parent of a child under 18 dies every 22 minutes in the UK – that’s around 23,600 people a year.

With a will, you can safeguard your family’s future, whatever happens.

 

Make a will today

It takes just 15 minutes to make a will with Beyond. Simply click here and answer our simple questions about your wishes, and we’ll turn them into a legally binding will. All you have to do is print and sign.

Make your will

A simple will with a traditional solicitor costs between £150 and £500. At Beyond, it costs just £90 for a single will and £135 if you make yours with a partner. And for just £10 a year, you can get unlimited wills: that means that whenever something in your life changes, you can update your will quickly and easily. Perfect for growing families.

Can you leave it all to your cat? Pet beneficiaries explained 0

A cat who has been left an estate in a will

Somewhere in Germany, there is a dog with more money than most of us could ever dream of. 

Gunther IV, the world's richest dog
The real Gunther IV at home.

Gunther IV owns property in three countries. He spends afternoons by his private pool. He summers in the Bahamas. He has a butler, and a maid, and a limo. He apparently lives with a team of supermodels.

Gunther IV has all this because German Countess Karlotta Leibenstein left her entire $80 million fortune to her dog, Gunther III. Who left it to his son.

Now, most pet owners would deem this a bit extreme. After years of letting the cat out, and in, and out again (ad nauseum), he really owes you — right?

But some of us do wonder: could I do that?

 

Can you leave your entire fortune to your pet(s)?

If you’re reading this in the UK, the answer is … sort of.

You can’t directly leave all your money to your cat, or dog, like you would a normal human beneficiary. In UK law, a pet is a possession, not a person (don’t look at me like that, I don’t make the rules).

But that doesn’t mean you can’t make sure your furry (or feathered, or scaly) friend will live in style without you. Here are the options.

 

The popular choice: Pet guardians

If you’re a parent, you can use your will to choose legal guardians for your kids, just in case. A lot of people know about this. 

Don’t forget to show the guardian your chin-scratching technique.

What they don’t know is that you can do the same thing with your pets. 

It’s a standard service we offer here at Beyond. When you make your will, you can pick someone to take in your beloved pet. Someone you trust to give them the love (and constant door opening) they need. 

You can also leave your chosen guardian funds and equipment to help them in their new role of pet-parent. After all, pets can be pricey. The lifetime cost of owning a cat is £17,000, and dogs can cost us up to £31,000 over the years.

For most people, the pet guardian option is perfect (purrfect?). It means your pet will go to a loving home, rather than a shelter. And it prevents vicious family debates over their eventual fate.

But for others, something more tail-ored is required.

On Beyond, it costs just £90 to make a will that protects your pets. That’s hundreds less than most traditional solicitors! Click here to make your will with us today.

 

The full-throttle option: Pet trusts

Pet trusts are relatively new to the UK, but they’re catching on fast.

A dog with money from a pet trust fund
Dogs are famously rubbish with money. Photo from Training Academy on Flickr.

A pet trust is a pot of money that can only be used to pay for your pet’s care after you die. You choose a carer, and lay out a set of things the money can be spent on (vet’s fees, food, etc.) You also choose trustees. Their job is to make sure the money is actually spent on your pet, and not on holidays in Bali. 

When your pet joins you in the great beyond, the remaining money goes to your chosen beneficiary.

Now, pet trusts can be complicated to set up. Compared to naming guardians in your will, it’s a more expensive option. But if you’re interested, we recommend talking to our complex wills team. They’ll be able to help you out.

Interested in setting up a pet trust? No problem. Call our complex wills team on 0800 054 9793.

 

The catch

As you can see, making sure your pet will be cared for is easy.

But if you want to leave everything to them — the whole shebang —  there can be issues. 

Basically, your disgruntled relatives can (and probably will) dispute the will. 

While they likely won’t be able to snatch the whole fortune back, they can claim “reasonable financial provision”. So, if you don’t want them to drag poor old Fluffy to court, it’s best to leave at least something to your human loved ones.

 

The long and short of it

So, here it is in a nutshell. You can’t bequeath your dog or cat (or lizard) money in your will. But you can appoint guardians or set up a trust for them instead.

If you do this, maybe don’t leave everything to your pets. After all, what would a dog do with all that money?

A dog whose owner left him her whole estate

Oh, right.