Video calling software can now be used when witnessing Last Will & Testament's


Every Last Will & Testament needs to be signed and witnessed by at least two people who are not beneficiaries of the estate for it to be legally binding. The Government has now introduced legislation that allows people to use video-conferencing technologies to witness the signing of wills. This is a temporary measure and a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Introduction

A need for changes in the law around Last Will & Testament’s had been identified by the Law Commission in 2017. A project was launched and work on this is ongoing. From the start of the Covid-19 crisis, the Law Society has been in discussion with the Ministry of Justice to explore a range of options available to government to alleviate the difficulties the public are encountering in relation to the making of wills.

A number of options were discussed with the objective of making the process of making a will simpler but to also ensure adequate safeguards remained in place to guard against abuse and undue influence of the elderly and vulnerable, especially in such unprecedented circumstances. We welcome the temporary use of video conferencing technology to witness wills in the absence of physical presence to help people make wills.

The Law Commission’s review of the law of wills is to continue and it is hoped that the final report will be published in advance of the end of the period of temporary measures. The Law Society will continue to work with both the Law Commission and Ministry of Justice on changes to to wills law over the coming years.

Ian is a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners “STEP” and is a workshop tutor for the “Administration of Trusts” paper on the STEP Diploma for England & Wales. He has been the chair of the Law Society ‘Wills and Equity Committee’ since July 2017 and a member of the technical committee advising the Law Society’s Wills Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS).

Ian Bond, Chair of the Law Society’s ‘Wills & Equity Committee

Interview with Gary Rycroft about will writing during the pandemic

 

  • Why is it important to have a Last Will & Testament?

If you don’t leave a Will fixed legal rules called the Intestacy Rules dictate who receives your estate. If you are in a relationship but not married or in a civil partnership this will NOT be your partner. If you are married or in a civil partnership, your other half may have to share with your children. If you are on second or subsequent marriage your kids from earlier relationships may miss out. So making a Will is about you having control. I also think it’s about showing your loved ones that you took the time to think about how they would be provided for on your death and that you care.

  • How has COVID-19 affected the ways in which solicitors support their clients

Lockdown and social distancing has meant solicitors are now unlikely to see their clients at their offices, but from the word go solicitors making Wills were classed as ‘Key Workers’ so we have been able to work through out and support our clients with telephone or video conferences to take instructions for Wills. Wills can be witnessed by any two adults who have mental capacity. During the pandemic I and other solicitors have witnessed the signing of wills outside our offices (e.g. the car park) or at client’s own homes (either in the garden or in the house subject to suitable ‘Covid’ measures e.g. gloves, masks, hand washing and social distancing). In some ways it has made the process more collaborative and at a time when many people have felt isolated and lonely Solicitors have enjoyed being in touch with and visiting our clients.

"Making a Will is about you having control. I also think it’s about showing your loved ones that you took the time to think about how they would be provided for on your death and that you care."

Gary Rycroft, Solicitor, Dying Matters Chair, Trustee for The Silver Line and MyWishes Legal Advisor

  • Why allowing people to sign their Last Will & Testament remotely / using video calling technology is important?

I actually don’t think it is for the reasons I have explained that we have been coping that well. I have serious worries about the uncertainty the new guidelines might produce. For example, the problem with ‘video witnessing’ has always been what about the bit offscreen that you can’t see. Is someone being subject to ‘undue influence’ by a third party who is out of shot? Also the Government have made clear the dispensation for video witnessing is only to be used as a last resort, when conventional witnessing is not possible. I have real fears this will be misunderstood and be misused and will lead to more Wills being challenged than ever before.

  • When someone writes their Will on MyWishes how should they have it witnessed

Once someone has has written their Last Will & Testament on MyWishes they can download it and send it to any fully qualified solicitor by email or print it and provide a hard copy to them for completion. If they want a solicitor to witness the signing I would recommend that the document is signed in front of the solicitor in person, when possible.

If the Last Will & Testament is shared remotely with a solicitor the testator (the MyWishes user who has made a will) might want to consider having a total of three witnesses on the video call. One witness might be the solicitor overseeing proceedings to the best of their ability remotely. The other two witnesses could be in close proximity with the testator. The two witnesses would then counter sign the document in view of the solicitor and the testator. It is important to remember that witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of any possessions allocated within the Last Will & Testament. Partners of of beneficiaries also cannot act as witnesses. 

  • What is the difference between a solicitor and a ‘will writing expert’ or a ‘legal expert’

To call yourself a ‘solicitor’ you have to have certain defined legal qualifications (which take years to obtain) and be subject to ongoing supervision and insurance. For a consumer of legal services it is the Gold Standard in terms of consumer protection and a right to redress is you have a complaint. On the other hand anyone can call themselves a ‘Will Writer’ or ‘Legal Expert’ even though they may have no relevant expertise or experience, nor any qualifications or be regulated by a professional body. I am all for consumers having total choice about who they engage and pay for legal services, but it should be an informed choice about who and what they are getting and what consumer protections, or not, are in place

Gary is a practicing solicitor with experience supporting those who are vulnerable and the charity sector. Gary served on The Law Society Wills & Equity Committee 2009-2017 and The Law Society Private Client Advisory Committee 2007-2017 (acting as Chair 2015-17). He was a trustee of the National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) until it merged with Hospice UK. He currently sits on the National Mental Capacity Forum Leadership Group (a joint initiative by The Ministry of Justice and Department of Health & Social Care) and is Chair of the Dying Matters Forum (set up by NCPC and now part of Hospice UK) which seeks to promote discussion about issues around end of life care.

How the new changes affect MyWishes users

MyWishes is the UK’s leading end of life planning software. One of our software’s features is a free to use will writing tool. This has not needed to adapt in order to adhere to the new laws around witnessing wills remotely using video calling technologies. The ways in which solicitors support our users might however might need to change in some circumstances. Gary highlighted that video and over the phone consultations have been important during the pandemic. He then went on to highlight that virtually witnessing the signing of Last Will & Testaments should be carried out as a last resort.

It is important that testator’s discuss their own unique circumstances with their solicitor before their Last Will & Testament is completed. This can be carried out using video technologies and / or in person. Whether or not you would then like your will to be witnessed in person or virtually is a conversation you should have with your solicitor, the decision should then be made by you.

Further details can be found on the Gov.UK website.

 

 


MyWishes - Event Dying Matters Awareness Week

Free Webinar: How to plan for death without leaving the sofa

Most people have not stated what they would like to happen should they die unexpectedly or lose capacity to look after themselves. This ultimately means that most people have not made plans for their possessions, estate and their loved ones.

It is important that every adult takes ownership of their life and puts suitable plans in place. Not making plans simply passes the task onto a loved one to address at a later date. Not making plans might increase the amount of anxiety, heartache and costs involved with you future care, funeral and when distributing your possessions.

During a global pandemic the relevancy and urgency of this task is amplified.

MyWishes - Event Dying Matters Awareness WeekThis event is taking place as part of Dying Matter Awareness Week 2020.

Every year in May, Dying Matters and a coalition of members host events during an Awareness Week. It gives society the opportunity to talk about and make plans for death, dying and bereavement. In 2020, the week will run from 11th to the 17th of May and the theme will be “Dying to be Heard”.

MyWishes provides a complete one-stop shop when planning for death. The platform is free to use and empowers each person to make plans for themselves and their loved ones. Our software integrates design principles familiar to those who use social networks. Our software’s features include: Will writing, advance care planning, funeral planning, bucket list creation, funeral playlist curation and digital legacy safeguarding.

*Please register (free) to virtually attend the event. Those who attend will be provided with a webinar link and an access code in two days before it takes place.

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


COVID funeral planning

How COVID-19 is changing funerals

An overview of funerals before the COVID-19 age

The funeral sector has seen a number of changes over the last 10 years. It is now commonplace for celebrants to conduct funerals and for people to opt for a celebration of their life rather than a traditional funeral (often referred to as a Victorian funeral). 

In a similar way to how wedding ceremonies have become ‘bespoke’, many funeral ceremonies have become a lot more personalised and a reflection of the life that the person once led. The charity Dying Matters has spearheaded national conversations about the importance of thinking, talking and planning for death. Their work has helped change attitudes and behaviours both in the UK and abroad around death and dying. If you require help talking about death their Talking about death and dying resource is a good place to start.

Bespoke funeralA survey of 2,000 people suggested that 54% wanted their funeral to be a “celebration of life”. Some 48% said they wanted it to incorporate their favourite “hobby, colour, football team or music”. (ICM 2019)

 

The cost of funerals 

The cost of funerals and the total cost of dying (burial fees, registration fees, cremation fees etc) have continued to increase over the last 10 years.

Cost of funeralsWith rising funeral costs, rising living costs and a stagnant growth in people’s income many are unable to pay for their loved one’s funeral. Loans are often taken out and the bereaved take on high funeral’s debts (this is called ‘funeral poverty’). 

 

Digital memorials and grieving online

When someone dies they are normally either buried, cremated or their body is donated to medical science. When buried, cremated and after the body is no longer needed for medical purposes the remains or ashes are often buried or scattered. This act remains an important ritual and part of the grieving process. Almost 87% of us now use the internet and spend more than 3 hours per day using it (OFCOM 2019). This is a huge amount of time and the sentimental and monitory value placed on social media profiles, photos, videos, purchased media etc is increasing. For many, the importance of where someone’s remains are located becomes secondary to what remains of them online. The information that is available about someone online and in a digital format is called a digital legacy. A digital legacy might include family photos uploaded to Facebook and Instagram, videos uploaded to Youtube and information that remains about someone after their death on websites and blogs. To learn how to make plans for your digital legacy within a ‘social media will’ click here.

How COVID-19 is changing funerals

Funeral ceremonies

At the time of writing funerals are still allowed to take place in the UK. Social distancing measures now mean that only close relatives of the deceased are allowed to attend someone’s funeral. This is the case for those who die from COVID-19 and for those who do not.

COVID funeral planningBeing able to hug and shake hands at funerals by those outside of each person’s household is not allowed. The ritual of “saying goodbye” or “paying our last respects” cannot currently take place at a funeral by those who are not ‘members of the person’s household’ or ‘close family members’.

In line with Government guidance, funeral services should therefore only be attended by members of the immediate family who are not in any of the high-risk categories and are not self-isolating. No specific number has been set by the Government. Only the following people should attend:

  • members of the person’s household
  • close family members
  • if the deceased has neither household or family members in attendance, then it is possible for a modest number of friends to attend

There may be additional restrictions in place at the service venue. Please check these in advance.

Further changes around social distancing and funerals might occur in the weeks and months ahead.  For up to date guidance please visit the National Association of Funeral Directors website).

Funeral Directors

Funeral Directors continue to carry out their vital work during this very difficult time. Their practice has changed and arranging a funeral is now largely carried out utilising the phone, video calls and other electronic means.

Psychological impact

Many psychologists believe that the sudden change in behaviours around death, dying and bereavement will lead to large numbers of people experiencing complicated grief for years to come. 

There are a number of charities and support phone lines about to assist. Some of these are listed below:

  • If you are bereaved and would like to speak with someone, you can call Cruse Bereavement Care for free on Tel 0808 808 1677 or visit www.cruse.org.uk
  • Child Bereavement UK offers support for families and professionals when a child dies or when a child grieves national helpline 0800 028 8840
  • At a Loss has a website with useful bereavement resources www.ataloss.org
  • Independent Age provides information and advice on a range of subjects including welfare, legal and financial Tel 0800 319 6789 or www.independentage.org/information/personal-life/when-someone-dies 
  • If you are looking for local help and support, Marie Curie has information on a range of issues including practical, legal and financial. Tel 0800 090 2309 or click here

The information above was extracted from NHS London Clinical Networks bereavement leaflet.

 

How to plan a funeral during the COVID-19 pandemic

 

  • You might want to use MyWishes free funeral software to make plans for your funeral. Once completed it can be printed at home and a copy emailed to those close to you. Your funeral wishes can be shared with your local funeral director via email and request a quotation. 

Advance Care Plan software

  • Consider postponing a funeral ceremony or wake until a later date.
  • Consider stating if you would be happy for your funeral to be live streamed (in your funeral wishes). If so, let a friend of family member know.
  • Learn how to how to arrange and video stream a funeral on Facebook during the COVID-19 pandemic should you be asked to required to carry out this task. (this tutorial might also be of value for Funeral Directors)
  • Learn How to Arrange a Funeral in a more traditional sense. Many things addressed in this tutorial are applicable when arranging a funeral during the current pandemic.
  • Talk to your housemates, friends and family members about your funeral wishes. If you live alone, call or video call a friend or family member (instead of visiting them).
  • Create a WhatsApp or Facebook group when arranging a funeral. Invite relevant family members and consider adding a funeral director to the group. This might help ensure that everyone is kept up to date with the administration and facilitation of the ceremony. 
  • If you are not very tech savvy you might want to ask someone else for technical assistance with specific tasks 
  • You might want to set money aside for your own funeral. To get a better idea of the costs that might be incurred, document your wishes and email them to your one or more local funeral directors and request a quotation. 

 

Pre-Paid funeral plans

Pre-paid funeral plans allow people to pay for funerals in advance. We strongly recommend that you do not take out any pre-paid funeral plans until the pandemic is over. This is due to the following reasons:

  • In light of current social distancing measures funerals do not allow for many guests to attend. In accordance with current guidelines limousines should not be used unless there is no other alternative transportation. Many funeral directors have stopped providing limousines and specific services for families all together. 
  • Further measures might include banning all funeral ceremonies (as is currently the case in Italy). If you pay for a funeral in advance and the services are not provided your next of kin might not be reimbursed. 
  • Corporate debt is very vulnerable at the moment. Pre-paid funeral planning companies are likely to be deemed as ‘high risk’ and might not survive in the months ahead.

Supporting you

If you have any ideas or suggestions how this post could be improved or how we can better assist you please do get in touch

37% of people surveyed had thought about which songs they would like to have played at their funeral

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


Tutorial: How to arrange and video stream a funeral on Facebook during the COVID-19 pandemic

Introduction

funeral streaming dataWhen someone dies from the Coronavirus (or anything else) funerals in the traditional sense cannot currently take place. Social distancing guidelines only allow for a small number of immediate friends and family to attend the ceremony. For many people watching and participating in a funeral online will not be as powerful, moving and meaningful as if it were to take place in a place of worship, crematorium, burial ground or other such space. Watching a funeral online may however help the bereaved feel like they have marked the person’s death with an event and help with the grieving process.

Our photos, videos and and interactions have increasingly moved into the digital space over the last 10 years. For many people social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are their main (and in some cases only) photo album. Until now however most people have not watched a funeral or memorial service online. Despite most people not having watched a funeral online many are able to envisage the benefits and would want to watch a funeral stream someone who they deem a significant person in their life.

When streaming is not possible & what to do if funerals are banned

Funerals might be banned altogether if social distancing measures are increased. If this occurs many aspects of the tutorial outlined below can be adopted and altered to fit the new guidelines. If video streaming is not possible due to logistical or technical reasons a virtual funeral, memorial or wake can still be held without a live stream.

 

How to arrange a funeral on Facebook

 

We recommend that when possible, the person who live streams a funeral is not a close friend or family of the deceased. This is due to the added stress video streaming can cause. In these difficult times and and when adhering to the current social distancing measures this might not however be possible.

  1. Create or login to your Facebook account
  2. Create an event, state when the funeral is due to take place and invite people to attendArrange a funeral using Facebook
  3. Decide whether or not you would like the funeral to be private or public. Generally funerals in the UK are pubic occasions open to all. Unless there are any special circumstances we would recommend making the funeral / wake public on Facebook to all to help reduce potential accessibility issues.
  4. Insert all of the details onto the event page (full description, date, time, photos etc) before inviting people to attend. You might want to ask someone else to review the content with you.
  5. Once you are happy with the design invite friends and family members to attend.
  6. Those attending will be able to comment using text, adding photos or by leaving a video message.
  7. Do not use the ‘schedule’ feature. This schedules when the event is made public. Ideally the Facebook Funeral event will be made public immediately after the content is added.
  8. You should state exactly what time and date the funeral is due to take place. Once again we do not recommend making a funeral event public until you have all of the details including the date, time and location of the funeral.

Many crematoriums now have video streaming facilities. If the ceremony is streamed by the crematorium you may want to post the video link provided by them in the event description and as a comment on the wall when the video stream starts. If the crematorium, place of worship or funeral director provides a video stream they should work with you to ensure that it is either streamed directly to the Facebook event you have setup.

If video streaming services are not provided you might want to employ a freelance videographer or local camera person to film the funeral. Their expertise, superior equipment etc might provide a better video stream and reduce the stress and anxiety experienced on the day of the funeral. If an external videographer or camera person is used you might want also to share this tutorial with them and provide any necessary access information (the reasons for this are highlighted below).

 

How to live stream a funeral on Facebook

 

The main problem when live streaming a funeral is the internet connection and the quality of the stream. Streaming can occur via a mobile phone, tablet or laptop. When possible we would recommend using a modern laptop (with a good camera or connected to a external camera / webcam).

Positioning the camera

The camera (external camera, webcam, phone or the laptop’s inbuilt camera) should be placed and fixed in a central point close to where the ceremony takes place. The diagram below highlights a suitable location where a camera could be located for a church funeral. If a tripod is not available a small table can be used to mount the laptop, camera or webcam.

*If the funeral is taking place outside the camera might need to be placed very close to the those conducting the ceremony. Outside conditions such as wind, rain and background noise can make it hard for devices to pick up the desired audio when an external microphone or amplification is not used.

Going live

The person who makes the video stream live should be the host or co-host of the Facebook event. This will give them administrative access to the funeral facebook event page. Without being a host or co-host they will not be able to publish the video stream automatically and directly onto the event page. To add a co-host simply add them when setting up the event or ‘Edit’ the event and add them. The host and any co-hosts will need to be ‘facebook friends’ with one another in order for this to happen.

Co-host funeral facebook

When the live stream is published onto the event page (by a host or co-host) those who have confirmed that they will ‘attend’ on Facebook are notified that the live stream has started. They will only be notified if they are online and logged into their Facebook account. People who are offline or unable to watch the stream in real time will be able to watch the video after the funeral has taken place if it is published afterwards (recommended).

Video streaming funerals

Viewing the service through Facebook’s viewfinder. 

The person who is streaming the funeral will be able to view what the camera sees on the laptop or mobile used before the stream is made live. An example of how this might look can be viewed below (image taken from a Macbook).

Funeral streaming Covid-19

Inserting the funeral stream into the Facebook event

Before starting the stream (and clicking on the ‘Go Live’ button) click on the button labelled ‘Share in an event’. Using this dropdown find and select the previously created funeral event and select.

When the event stream is published the stream will now automatically be shared within the Facebook Funeral page.

Using third party cameras and microphones

If the device used is connected to third party equipment (like a external camera or sound card) a drop down option next to the camera and microphone icons will populate. These can be seen on the righthand side in the image below.

Funeral streaming Covid-19

Go Live

Click on the ‘Go Live’ button when ready. To stop the stream end the stream within the Facebook viewfinder do not simply switch off the device. We recommend that someone reviews the stream (watches the video through the device capturing the video) on a regular basis during the ceremony.

Facebook users will be able to comment on the video stream and the event. Those who are not Facebook users will still be able to watch the video stream if they are provided with the video link (URL). or event link when containing the video stream. For this to occur the event and video stream should both be set to ‘public’. Non-Facebook users  will not however be able to comment on the stream or within the event.

How to arrange a wake (using Zoom)

The tutorials above highlight how to create a funeral event and how to live stream a funeral on Facebook. They also explain how these two features can be used in conjunction with one another to provide a virtual funeral.

Facebook do not have a feature that enables realtime video conversations to take place between many people at once one another. This type of interaction often happens in virtual meetings however it can also be used for a virtual wake.

online wake

If you do decide to use Zoom for the wake afterwards you will be able to host a room. If you decide to create a wake on Zoom you might want to schedule it for an hour or so after the funeral ceremony has finished. To do this someone (the host) would need to create a Zoom account, generate and share the link and access code. A good place to share the zoom link and access code would be on the Facebook Funeral Event page days or weeks before the funeral. After the funeral has taken place those wanting to speak with one another could do so by clicking on the Zoom link and share condolences and stories.

Virtual funeral check list

  • Try this tutorial at home days before the funeral. Do not wait until the day of the funeral to test live streaming.
  • Ask the venue (church, crematorium etc) if they already have video streaming facilities and experience?
  • Ask if the venue has WIFI (if not, you will need to tether from your phone to your laptop or use a mobile device)
  • You are able to create a Zoom link for a meeting in advance. This can be shared via email and in the description of your Funeral Event Page in Facebook
  • After inviting attendees to the funeral on Facebook you might also want to send a link to the event in WhatsApp, Facebook messenger etc. This will help reduce the risk of people not seeing the event until after it has taken place.
  • Make sure that the device you are using is pugged in (when possible).
  • If a laptop is used do not shut the laptop when the streaming starts
  • You may want to disable screensavers or automatic power saving modes. These might cause disable the stream or be distracting for those attending the funeral in person.
  • If streaming cannot take place you might want to take photos of the ceremony and add it to the Facebook Funeral event page afterwards.

Why Facebook & Zoom

Facebook is a used by most people in the UK and the USA (around 75% and 69% respectively in March 2020). Facebook ‘events’ including funerals are fairly easy to create and Live Streams on Facebook can be made public and accessible without needing to login. Streaming via Youtube could be used as an alternative however it might be more challenging when inviting friends and family members to attend and watch the stream (especially when in realtime).

Zoom is free to use (up to 75 people) and enables real time video discussions. This video conferencing service is used widely for business purposes and since the COVID-19 pandemic began used by the UK government, corporate and not for profit organisations across the globe.

Documenting your funeral wishes on MyWishes

MyWishes suite of tools are free to use. Our funeral planning software has a number of features to support society when documenting what they would like to happen at their funeral.

funeral planning software

Our users can document, download and share their funeral wishes, write or upload their own video message (obituary) and publish their funeral playlist (songs that they would like to have played at their funeral). We have made a number of changes to the funeral planning software in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes adding the question ‘would you like your funeral to be live streamed if people are unable to attend?’.


Video message

Leaving a "Goodbye" Video message using MyWishes

Overview

More and more people are filming videos of themselves to be shown after their death. These can be hugely powerful ways to both say” goodbye” and leave a lasting video legacy. DeadSocial’s free ‘goodbye’ tool is one way to schedule videos to be shown online after death. Other ways include leaving a video with a trusted party or a solicitor.

Video message

Getting started

Things to think about

  • Be as serious, creative or somber as you see fit. There isn’t a right or wrong way to do this. It’s your video and should reflect you in today’s world. Stuff to think about…
  • Don’t wear thin-stripy shirts, as your video may appear fuzzy when viewed.
  • Wear something that reflects who you are.

 

What should I speak about?

  • What is important to you?
  • Who inspires you?
  • Your family history knowledge?
  • A story that you would like to be remembered and recited?
  • What is your favourite saying (for example: always look on the Brightside of life)
  • What are the highlights of your life (so far)?
  • What are the low-lights of your life (so far)?
  • Where you and your family are from?
  • What your life has been like (to date)?
  • What advice do you have for those you leave behind?
  • What is your favourite music, art, books, aftershave, sports team?
  • What are your religious / political views?
  • What your hopes and dreams are for your friends and family? …or anything else that springs to mind. It’s YOUR video and your legacy.

 

Two very different ‘Goodbye’ videos

 

Lawrence Darani

A video by Lawrence Darani passing down some of his own stories and knowledge to help comfort his friends, family and inform future generations of the Darani family.

 To watch more videos by Lawrence and learn from him about creating your own ‘ethical will’ click here

 

Carla Zilber-Smith

A video by Carla Zilber-Smith passing down comfort through comedy and a smile

 

How to leave a goodbye message using MyWishes

  • My Goodbye Message

Our Flagship ‘Goodbye’ messaging tool enables our users to send out a goodbye message and a series of scheduled messages. These are only published after the user’s death and in accordance with their wishes.

 

Goodbye message after death

To learn more about this feature click here 

  • My Funeral Message

Our funeral planning tool enables users to either write or record a video of themselves to be featured as part of their obituary

my-funeral-wishes-publish

To learn more about this feature click here 

What kind of videos will you leave behind?

You can use MyWishes to leave video, image and text messages for your friends and family. Once logged in to the software our step videos will guide and support you if you need it.

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


grief confusion

Dealing with Grief in today's World

"Just as death is a certainty, so too is grief. It is a universally shared experience and yet totally unique to each individual. Asking for and finding the right support for each person can be challenging. But it is available"

— Annie Broadbent, author of We Need to Talk About Grief

Annie Broadbent

Supporting the Bereaved

Someone you love has recently been bereaved. You desperately want to be there for them, but you don’t really know how. It can be a daunting prospect – supporting someone you care about through a time of so much pain, especially as there is currently not a huge amount of support available for the supporters. Finding the right words to comfort your friend, and knowing what you can offer to do is often overwhelming, confusing and sometimes quite frightening. Each person responds differently, and what they need from you will be further influenced by who it is that died, how they died, and what their specific circumstances are. But there are certain things that can help, and other things that might be best avoided.

Supporting the recently bereaved

A letter to Frankie Knuckles family

The Obama family wrote a letter of support following the death of the influential DJ and music producer Frankie Knuckles. This letter was sent at a time when Barack Obama was president of the United States of America.

Talking about Grief

We all experience grief in different ways. This will be influenced by a number of factors such as the type of death, the relationship to the deceased, and the age/culture/support network of the bereaved. Some people may find talking about their experience helpful, others may find it very difficult and it is likely that the bereaved will oscillate between the two. Things such as the Death Café offer a safe and welcoming place to talk about all things death, dying and grief.

Grief from a ‘Reddit’ thread (contributor unknown)

Over the years many different psychologists have tried to define and calculate grief into different stages and phases. The diagram below debunks one of these attempts and reworks it based on the creator’s own experiences.

 

 

stages of grief

Grief online

The internet has changed the way in which we remember and grieve forever. It’s important to bear in mind that this can be both supportive and also difficult for some people. There are now a range of online forums for those experiencing grief and various blogs of people’s experiences which can be subscribed to.

Social media sites such as Facebook offer an online forum for people to share photos, memories of the deceased and invite people to funerals and memorials.

Conclusion

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. People may feel anger soon after a loved one dies often turning to sadness later on. Knowing that your emotions may change overtime and that this it common may help the bereaved understand that this is normal.

grief confusion

Annie Broadbent

This article was written for MyWishes by Annie Broadbent, author of We Need to Talk About Grief

A selection of grief and bereavement resources from Charities within the UK

MyWishes is the UK’s leading end of life planning software. It is free to use and can empower your to write your will, plan your funeral, safeguard your digital legacy, plan your future care and publish a bucket list.

I am ready to start documenting my wishes

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


social media will

Digital Legacy Checklist

James NorrisOverview

The actions we take, the way we behave and the choices we make in life help to shape the legacy we leave behind in death. These actions are increasingly being carried out and overtly spoken about online. By thinking about our digital legacy and planning for our inevitable departure we are able to highlight certain personally traits and our tell stories for those left behind.

James Norris, MyWishes founder

 

Digital Legacy Checklist

Below is a basic checklist of things you may want to consider when evaluating your online footprint (this is sometimes referred to as a ‘digital footprint’). By evaluating the points below we hope that it will evoke thought and lead to a proactive outcome.

  • Search for (your name) in Google and see what appears (in Google search, Google image search and Google video search). If there is information or media (such as photos and videos) that you do not want to be remembered for consider removing them.

Make sure that you have given directions about what you would like to happen to your online accounts and profiles in your Social Media Will.

social media willMyWishes free software includes a section where users document their online accounts and forge a social media will. If you decide to create a social media will using MyWishes you should download a copy (PDF) printed or email the document to someone you trust once it has been completed.

  • Tell at least one person where your Social Media Will is stored and consider sharing a copy with more than one person.
  • Consider leaving a ‘goodbye’ message‘ for your friends and family as part of your Ethical Will.
  • Download and backup your media saved on third party social media and online sites. Once downloaded you may want to print and share the photos, videos and files that are of the greatest sentimental and monitory value.
  • If you have a website or blog that you would like to remain live once you have died make sufficient plans, technical resource and budget for this to occur.
  • Understand the terms & conditions of the online platforms and services that you use.
  • Consider how to pass on your passwords and what levels of access you would like others to have.
  • If you have digital assets that are of a monitory value (business website, cryptocurrency etc) add them to your Last Will & Testament

law-society-logo

“People should leave clear instructions about what should happen to their social media, computer games and other online accounts after their death”
The Law Society on England and Wales

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


My Funeral Wishes document

How to find someone's 'My Funeral Wishes' document

This guide will first help you to understand what different formats ‘My Funeral Wishes’ documents can be saved as. It will then provide advice as to how to find someone’s document if you think they had stated their funeral wishes using MyWishes.

Once a MyWishes user has completed their funeral wishes they are able to:

  1. Download the document locally to the device they are using (PDF)
  2. Email the document to someone they trust (friend, family member, funeral director etc)
  3. Print the document and keep it in a safe place.

My Funeral Wishes document

 

If you are looking for someone’s funeral wishes document a copy may be available

  1. The device they use for logging into MyWishes (saved as a PDF)
  2. With someone they have entrusted with the document (friend, family member, funeral director etc)
  3. Within their email ‘Sent’ box.
  4. In a safe place where they live (after a copy was printed out).

Someone’s My Funeral Wishes might be saved as a PDF document on one of the internet enabled devices they use (computer, laptop, work computer, tablet etc). It may also be printed out (normally on A4 paper) and timestamped with the last time it was updated (as shown above).

Talking about funeral wishes

Some MyWishes users have not completed and shared their Funeral Wishes documentation. You may however find that their wishes have been told to a friend, relative or a funeral director.

Further support

If you require any support please feel free to get in touch .

Documenting your own wishes

It is important that we all document our wishes. MyWishes makes the complex and fragmented task of documenting our wishes easy. To learn more about our free funeral planning software click here.

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


My Funeral Playlist

How to create and share your funeral playlist on MyWishes

What is a funeral playlist

A funeral playlist is a collection of songs and poems that someone would like to be played, sung or spoken at someone’s funeral.

Why should I create a funeral playlist?

If music is an important part of your life you may also place an importance on the the music that is played or sung at your funeral. It takes a couple of minutes to document your funeral playlist on MyWishes and once it has been completed you can share it with your friends an family via email or publicly on your social media channels

Creating your own funeral playlist on MyWishes

It is really easy to collate and share your funeral playlist on MyWishes.

  • Register and login and go to the my funeral wishes feature.
  • Click on the ‘My Funeral Playlist’ section.
  • You will now be able to add Items to your funeral playlist and state whether or not you would like the information to be public or private. If you set items to private they will not display on your unique, public URL. Furthermore items set as private will not show if shared across your social media sites.

 

Funeral songs

“You may want to add a song from a band you went to see perform, request a friend to perform a piece on the piano or for a family member to read a poem”.

Deciding whether to make your funeral playlist public or private

Your funeral wishes document a private document. Your funeral playlist however will be made public by default. If you would like to use the My Funeral Wishes feature but would like it to be private you will need to change the viability of your MyWishes public URL from ‘public’ to ‘private’. A step by step guide showing you how to do this can be found here

Sharing your funeral playlist

  • PDF download

Once you have completed your funeral playlist it will be added to your ‘Funeral Wishes’ document and available to download to the device you are using. The document will download as a PDF and can be attached and emailed to friends and family. You may also want to email your funeral wishes directly to chosen funeral director. By sharing your wishes there are more likely to be adhered to.

  • Social media

You may want to share your funeral playlist on your social media accounts. This might help evoke conversations around the songs that you have chosen and your wishes in general.

Creating and publishing your funeral playlist on MyWishes is free and easy.

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


Bucket list App

How to create a Bucket List on MyWishes

Overview

A bucket list is a list of items someone would like to do or achieve before they die. The phrase originates from the term “kicked the bucket”.

Creating a Bucket List

No matter our age, financial or health circumstances we can all create a bucket list. This might be a short list of personal activities or an elaborate list of goals. Inspiration can take many forms. Your bucket list might be inspired by friends, family and a range of different interests. We are all unique and everyone’s bucket list will differ. The most important thing is to list items that are important to you at this moment in time and then focusing on experiencing or achieving them.

Bucket List Software

Learning from other peoples regrets can be a powerful catalyst for self-reflection and improvement.  You might find the ‘top 5 regrets of the dying’ of value and inspiration before adding items to your Bucket List.

Top 5 regrets of the dying

The top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Bronnie Ware (a Palliative Care Nurse) can be found below.

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

“This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

Creating and sharing your bucket list on MyWishes

Creating your bucket list

Register or login to your free MyWishes account and go to the Bucket List feature. Now click on the ‘Add New Item To My Bucket List’ button. You will now be able to add the item to your Bucket List and assign a date that you hope to achieve it by.

Bucket List App

Making your bucket list public

By default MyWishes vanity URLs are set to ‘public’. This allows for non-sensitive information to be shared publicly when a user would like to do so. If your account is set to public and you would like to share your Bucket List item tick the box as shown below.

If you do not want the item on your Bucket List to be made public do not tick this box. If you would like to disable your vanity URL and in doing so disable the ability to share anything onto your public MyWishes page click here.

The image above is from of a ‘Public’ Bucket List

Publishing your goals and achievements

You can publish the goals that you have set on your bucket list across your social media channels. This may help give you the encouragement you need to achieve them. The social media sharing buttons can be found next to each of the items you add to your Bucket List.

Bucket list on social media

Your Bucket List 

Once you have saved your Bucket List you can refer to it and update it as often as you like. If you do not achieve a Bucket List  item within the timeframe you have set simply change the ‘due date’ to an achievable date in the future.

Further resources of inspiration

  • ‘The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying’ book by Bronnie Ware (further information)
  • The Bucket List film with Jack Nicholson & Morgan Freeman (IMDB Review)
  • Stephen Sutton’s Bucket List – Possibly the most incredible and elaborate buck list of all time can be seen here (Stephen Sutton’s website)

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


My Profile - MyWishes Software

How to make your public MyWishes profile, private!

The documents created on MyWishes are private. Once completed they can be downloaded and shared with those you trust within your friendship group, with family members of professionals (for example your doctor, a solicitor or your appointed funeral director).

MyWishes Privacy

MyWishes have however also developed ways for out users to share non-sensitive information on their public MyWishes page. Non-sensitive content may include their bucket list, the songs that they would like to have played at their funeral, small gifts that they have allocated to their loved ones within their Last Will & Testament and Goodbye Messages that are only sent out onto their MyWishes profile after they die. The Goodbye Messaging feature is basically a Victorian Memory box for today’s digital age.

How to make your MyWishes public profile private or public

Every MyWishes user has their own vanity URL. This is created when a user registers however the name can be changed at any time in the MyProfile section.

MyWishes vanity URL

Your MyWishes URL has to be set to public if you would like to share sensitive information information on it. This setting can be altered by clicking on the ‘Edit’ button and changed private or public.

 

MyWishes public or Private

When a MyWishes URL is set to private the user’s public page will not display allow them to share any non-sensitive information on their public profile.

The GIF above highlights how a public MyWishes profile appears when it is set to ‘Private’MyWishes set to privateMyWishes set to private

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


MyWishes Hard Drive

How to keep your documents safe (and accessible)

Overview

It is extremely important that you keep you Last Will and Testament and your other end of life documents in a safe place. Whether you store your files electronically or virtually you should tell someone where they are stored in order for access to be obtained when required.

 

1. Download your documents and email them to those you trust

It is important that once you have documented your wishes that you download and share them. When you click on any MyWishes ‘Download’ button you will receive a PDF of the document that you have just saved.

Once you have downloaded you might want to email the document to one or a number of people you trust. In the example above someone’s funeral wishes are downloaded. In this case the MyWishes user might decide to email a copy to their partner, a copy to their children and a copy to two different funeral directors in order to receive a quote. By understanding the costs budgeting can occur.

 

2. Print your documents

We strongly recommend that you print copies of your MyWishes documents.

In today’s ever digitised world you might be inclined to do everything online and after downloading your MyWishes documents locally on your computer simply emailing them to those you trust. By printing hard copies you could help ensure that they are immediately accessible in case of an emergency or should someone be unable to retrieve an electronic copy of your document.

MyWishes documents3. Keep your documents safe

  • In your home.

Dedicate a suitable box or draw to keep your important MyWishes documents safe. Tell someone you trust where your safe location is should they need to access the documents,

  • With those you trust.

Provide a copy to your documents to those you trust. These may include a family member, your partner, your doctor, your solicitor, a funeral director or a close friend. If you decide to leave a copy of your documents with a solicitor there may be a cost for both you and those wanting to access the documents.

  • Save copies digitally

Saving copies of your important documents, files and even your favourite photos and videos digitally can make life a lot easier on those you leave behind. To create a digital copy of your Last Will and Testament, Advance Care Plan, Funeral Wishes or Digital Will using MyWishes use the ‘download’ buttons are shown above. If you use a password to protect your computer you might want to tell someone the password. If you decide to encrypt your folder to make it even more secure once again, you may want to tell someone you trust how to access these documents.

  • On an external hard drive or USB stick

External hard drives and USB sticks can be a great way to store and share large numbers of documents, photos, videos and files. If you have a large number of personal photos and videos or if you own digital songs and movies that you would like to pass transferring them to a hard drive or a USB stick might be a good idea.

MyWishes Hard Drive

Once transfered simply tell the recipient of the Hard Drive what is stored on the device and what your wishes for the content is.

 

  • The Cloud

There are an increasing number of ‘online vaults’ and cloud storage solutions that look after your documents, photos and videos. These include Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive and Google photos. Such cloud services can be great however we recommend that they are are not the primary way in which your important photos and videos are stored due to the complexities of sharing access, obtaining access and sharing passwords.

If you would like some of your files not to be seen until after your death we recommend asking an accredited solicitor to carryout this task for you instead. The cost of a solicitor to carryout this task will probably be less than the monthly charges accumulated by services with a monthly subscription. It may be ironic for us to state this but “just because a process can be carried out online it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be better, easier or cheaper.

 

4. Don’t forget about your photos and videos

As well as keeping your important documents safe also think about how you might want to keep the photos and videos you have uploaded to social media sites safe. A number of guides about this can be found on the Digital Legacy Association website.

 

5. Using a safe

If you own a safe you may want to keep a copy of your important documents, files, photos and videos within it. If you do use a safe it is paramount that at least one person you trust knows where it is and how to access it.

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


Bespoke funeral

How to arrange a funeral

Good funeral guide

“It takes a few minutes to plan out a funeral. You’ll want to do what the person who has died wanted. And, together with those closest to the person who has died, you will also want to do what you feel you need to do”. – Charles Cowling, founder of The Good Funeral Guide

 

Overview

Most people don’t want their family and friends to put themselves out massively for their funeral. Listen to what they say then go ahead and give them the celebration you think they deserve. The law does not require you to use a funeral director, nor does it require you to hold a funeral service. Funeral wishes are not legally binding.

A survey of 2,000 people suggested that 54% wanted their funeral to be a “celebration of life”. Some 48% said they wanted it to incorporate their favourite “hobby, colour, football team or music”. (ICM)

 

Seven things to consider when planning a funeral

Here are the 7 most important things to hold in your mind when you plan a funeral for someone:

  • There’s no rush (except for some religions)
  • Set your budget and shop around. This can save you a lot of money
  • Use the internet for info, ideas, goods and services
  • Don’t pay others to do what you can do yourself
  • Follow your heart. There are no rules, so do it your way
  • A good funeral is more about what you say and what you do than what you spend
    When all’s said and done you must be able to look back with pride

The content above was written by The Good Funeral Guide for use on MyWishes

 

The different types of funeral

A survey of 2,000 people suggested that 54% wanted their funeral to be a “celebration of life”. Some 48% said they wanted it to incorporate their favourite “hobby, colour, football team or music“.

There are a wide range of ways that a funeral can be arranged. It is not a legal requirement to use a funeral director and the choices ranging from the ceremony to body disposal are increasing each year. MyWishes free funeral planning tool empowers the general public to state what their funeral wishes and preferences are.

To use MyWishes free funeral planning feature click here. To learn more about our software click here

Why do we have funerals?

It may sound simplistic and and obvious however funerals are for the living. They can be an important way for the bereaved to deal with the death of a loved on and move on. They are to commemorate the deceased but it is important to once again, remember that they are not for the deceased they are for the living. The reasons why we have funerals include:

  • To help us express grief
  • To help us acknowledge someones death and the life they led
  • To celebrate the a life now ended
  • To say “goodbye”

Changing attitudes towards personal funerals and bespoke ceremonies

Funerals and remembrance ceremonies are becoming evermore personal and unique. Following in the footsteps of the bespoke wedding movement, bespoke funerals are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to a traditional or religious ceremony.

 

Bespoke funeral

If directions have not been provided orally, in a funeral wishes document or in the deceased’s will the person arranging the funeral or the nearest relative will usually decide whether a cremation or burial will take place.

Changing attitudes and practices

There is not a right or wrong way for us to live our lives. In a similar way there isn’t a right or wrong way to address death. The only parameters are the laws of the land, social etiquette and each person’s imagination.

ashes in a bottle

Paying for the funeral

Funeral costs are increasing above inflation in the UK, USA and most western countries. The person who is arranging the funeral is responsible for paying for it. Before making any arrangements it is important to see if the deceased had a funeral plan, health insurance or had stated any specific wishes for their funeral.

Funeral payment checklist

If you are arranging a funeral you may wish to investigate and see if the deceased has any documentation(s) shown below

  • A prepaid funeral plan
  • A pension scheme or insurance plan
  • Belonged to a union or professional association that pays benefits on the death of a member (military etc)
  • Had a national savings account from which a lump sum might be released (bank and building society accounts may be frozen until probate is granted, but some may agree to release funds to pay for a funeral)

Funerals can be expensive, so you should attain a quote from more than one funeral director (if you decide to use one). You may want to ask for a written quotation and check that everything, from the venue to the flowers, has been included. If a MyWishes ‘My Funeral Wishes’ document was sent to you, you may want to email it to a number of funeral directors requesting a quote.

Inviting people to a funeral

When arranging a funeral you may worry that not enough people will find out about it in time. You may want to invite people to the event though the following ways

  • Over the phone
  • Publishing an obituary in the local newspaper
  • Announce the funeral time and date using Facebook and other social media channels
  • Create a ‘Facebook event’ for the funeral that is due to take place and invite people to it Consider streaming the ceremony or wake. Learn more
  • Send invitations by email

 

Email Funeral Invitation

Document your own wishes and share them with someone you trust

Making plans for your own funeral is an altruistic and selfless act. You are undertaking a task for which you will never see or experience the outcome. You are however thinking about those who might take on the burden of arranging your funeral and making their tasks easier.

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


Why you need a Social Media Will (sometimes called a Digital Will)

Law Society

“People should leave clear instructions about what should happen to their social media, computer games and other online accounts after their death, according to the law society “– The Law Society (UK)

If you have social media profiles set up online, you should create a statement of how you would like your online identity to be handled. Just like a traditional will helps your survivors handle your physical belongings, a social media will spells out how you want your online identity to be handled”. – USA Government 

 

Social Media Will (Guide)

Both the USA government and the UK Law Society agree that we should make plans for our ‘digital assets by writing a social media will. By doing so we can help make our passing easier on those left behind from both emotional and financial reasons.

McAfee released a survey that found global consumers in the USA placed an average value of more than $37,000 on their digital assets (the value was even higher in the U.S. at nearly $55,000). The Digital Legacy Association also found that the perceived value society places on their loved one’s digital legacy is increasing year on year.

Digital Death Survey - Digital Will

Each online service (Facebook, Amazon, eBay etc) have their own ‘terms of service’ (TOS). The TOS for each platform differs due to the differing services they each provide. It is important for all of us to understand the TOS for each platform that we use and document what our wishes are for each platform.

 

MyWishes free Social Media Will software

We have developed a free Social Media Will tool as part of the suite of services offered on MyWishes. It is simple to use and helps our users document what they would like to happen to each of their online accounts.

To use MyWishes Social Media Will generator register and we will help you to safeguard your social media account and all of your other online accounts.

 

What happens if I do not leave a Social Media Will?

Most people have not made plans for their digital assets and their digital estate. If your wishes are not documented photos, videos and other items of sentimental value might be lost. If you have online only bank accounts, cryptocurrency, business assets, purchased media, a website and other items of a monitory value these may deleted or withheld. This in turn could mean that those you care about are unable to access or receive the assets you would have otherwise wanted them to receive.

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


What is an Advance Care Plan

Why you should have an Advance Care Plan

What is an Advance Care Plan

Advance care plans are a set of directions and preferences concerning someone’s future care. They are often documented whilst someone is healthy and only take effect if they lose capacity of their body or mind.

 

Why you need an an Advance Care Plan

An ‘Advance Care Plan’ can help ensure that you are not given treatment that you do not wish to receive. It can also ensure that you receive the type of care you would like to receive in your preferred setting. An Advance Care Plan can also empower a friend or family member to make decisions and act on your behalf if you wish them to.

You can state your wishes in a paper Advance Care Plan. These can be obtained from your doctor, hospital and hospice. Alternatively you can use our free Advance Care Plan tool to document you wishes. Once completed simply download the document (as a PDF), print it or email it to someone you trust.

Key principles of Advance Care Planning Process

The process of creating an Advance Care Plan is voluntary. No pressure should be brought to bear by the professional, the family or any organisation on the individual concerned to take part in writing an Advance Care Plan (ACP)

  • An ACP must be a patient centred dialogue over a period of time
  • The process of ACP is a reflection of society’s desire to respect personal autonomy. The content of any discussion should be determined by the individual concerned. The individual may not wish to confront future issues; this should be respected
  • All health and social care staff should be open to any discussion which may be instigated by an individual and know how to respond to their questions
  • Health and social care staff should instigate ACP only if in the context of a professional judgement that leads them to believe it is likely to benefit the care of the individual. The discussion should be introduced sensitively
  • Staff will require the appropriate training to enable them to communicate effectively and to understand the legal and ethical issues involved
  • Staff need to be aware when they have reached the limits of their knowledge and competence and know when and from whom to seek advice
  • Discussion should focus on the views of the individual, although they may wish to invite their carer or another close family member or friend to participate.
  • Some families may have discussed their issues and would welcome an approach to share this discussion
  • Confidentiality should be respected in line with current good practice and professional guidance
  • Health and social care staff should be aware of and give a realistic account of the support, services and choices available in the particular circumstances. This should entail referral to an appropriate colleague or agency when necessary
  • The professional must have adequate knowledge of the benefits, harms and risks associated with treatment to enable the individual to make an informed decision
  • Choice in terms of place of care will influence treatment options, as certain treatments may not be available at home or in a care home, e.g. chemotherapy or intravenous therapy. Individuals may need to be admitted to hospital for symptom management, or may need to be admitted to a hospice or hospital, because support is not available at home
  • ACP requires that the individual has the capacity to understand, discuss options available and agree to what is then planned. Agreement should be documented
  • Should an individual wish to make a decision to refuse treatment (advance decision) they should be guided by a professional with appropriate knowledge and this should be documented according to the requirements of the MCA 2005.

(The Key Principles copy was provided by Dying Matters)

Advance care planning PDF

How to document your future care wishes on MyWishes.

Once you have created a MyWishes account our step by step video will visualise and describe how to create, download and share your advance care plan. Our support team will also be on hand to help support you should you experience any technical issues.

The animation below quickly highlights how our users create, download and share their Advance Care Plans.

Once you have completed your advance care plan you may also want to make plans for your online accounts in a social media wil or set yourself achievable goals within a bucket list. To learn more about all of MyWishes features click here.

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


Why you should have a Last Will & Testament

“A Will should cover all of your assets be they valuable or not so valuable. And remember it is often the possessions that have little or no monetary value can cause conflict when a loved one dies. It is therefore paramount that all our assets are taken into consideration writing a will.” – Gary F. Rycroft. Member of the The Law Society Wills & Equity Committee and Chair of Dying Matters.

Why have a Will?

Making a Will is a way of showing that you really care about whoever is left behind and that you have done your best to leave your property and finances in the most thoughtful way possible. Whether or not you leave a Will is going to have a significant impact on how you are remembered – were you someone who took time and care to ensure your loved ones were provided for after your death, or were someone who just left everything to chance and hoped it would all be alright?

Have you written a will

The Digital Death Report 2017 found that nearly two thirds of adults may not have a valid Will. That’s two thirds of adults who have decided (or are unaware) that they currently have no say whatsoever in what happens to their hard earned cash and assets after they die.

Last will and testamentWhat happens if you die and have not written a Will?

If you die without a valid Will there the law dictates what happens to your assets. These are called the “Intestacy Rules”. If you are lucky the Intestacy Rules will coincide with what you would like to happen anyway. But for many that will not be the case.

Common sense dictates that 18 may not be a good age for a young person to become entitled to a lump-sum of cash. If you make a Will you can specify the age that your children would inherit (say 25 with provision for some money to be advance before that for education and maintenance) and you can appoint guardians to look after your children. There are also plenty of situations where the Intestacy Rules just don’t work at all. Cohabiting or unmarried couples are not recognised and neither are step-children. Or what if you have a disabled or vulnerable relative you want to provide for?

By making a Will you help forge a structure to protect your loved ones and help cement a legacy that is legally binding.

So when should I make a Will?

In theory everyone over the age of 18 should write a will. However there are many life events which act like a trigger when thinking about and making a Will. These include:

  • Buying a house
  • Having children
  • Have children
  • Getting married
  • Getting unmarried
  • Inheriting assets
  • Retiring
  • A change in circumstances for an intended beneficiary (eg divorce of bankruptcy)

Areas often overlooked

  • Your Will should remain under review. Revisit it at least every five years or each time a change in circumstance (as shown above) occurs.
  • Making a Will can help with Inheritance Tax Planning in relation to business succession.
  • A Will can enable you to make Charitable Gifts (which can also help reduce the amount of tax paid by your beneficiaries) and set out arrangements for your pets and funeral wishes.

 

 

Writing a Will using MyWishes

MyWishes Last Will & Testament software offers the benefits of a online will writing platform with the quality, insurance and insights provided by a solicitor. Simply enter your details into the interactive document generator.

Once completed download the document (as a PDF) and either share it with one of our partner solicitor firms or share the document with your own solicitor.

 

Write a will on MyWishes

 

If you do decide to share your document with one of the fully qualified and insured MyWishes solicitors they will review your document and call you for a private consultation using Skype, Google hangouts or over the phone.

 

will-writing-software-skype-call

 

By providing your drafted MyWishes document to a solicitor the costs incurred will be greatly reduced. MyWishes recommends using a solicitor and recommends against using online services that use “legal experts / will writing experts”.

 

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MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


How to make your Last Will & Testament legally binding in the UK

To make your Last Will & Testament legally binding in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales you will need to have the document signed by yourself and witnessed by two people over the age of 18. The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the will, spouses of beneficiaries or members of your family.

 

You will need to ensure that the witnesses have sufficient eyesight to witness the signing of the document. Please also ensure that they have the mental capacity to understand the importance of task requested. If there are any doubts surrounding the person’s eyesight or mental capacity please consider assigning a different witness or obtaining legal advice.

If you have close relatives who you do not want to give anything to your should state why you have made no provisions for them. We recommend that you provide these written reasons on a separate document. A Last Will & Testament can become a public document when it goes to probate. By adding a separate document you may be able to reduce the stress caused from the publication of such content.

To draft your Last Will & Testament for free click here

 

stay at home

MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


Wendy

What is a celebrant?

What is a Celebrant?

We recently spoke about end of life planning and MyWishes at the annual Celebrants Convention. Whilst there we caught up with Wendy Coulton a fully qualified Civil Funeral Celebrant.

In the video below Wendy Coulton explains what a celebrant is and how a celebrant helps support the recently bereaved when arranging a funeral service.

stay at home

MyWishes free to use software was developed under the guidance of healthcare, hospice, legal and funeral professionals. To learn more about how MyWishes works click here.


Lawrence Darani

How to create an ethical will

What is an ethical will?

 

“Unlike a ‘last will and testament’ disposing of one’s estate or an advanced directive for health care decisions, an ethical will is not legally binding. Rather, a good ethical will transmits values, life lessons, family history, and other experiences to those left behind when the author dies. One pictures a written version of those few choice words of wisdom spoken by a family elder on his/her deathbed. While the legal will deals with material goods, the ethical will is meant to pass on the non-material goods and family traditions of equal or greater importance”. - Ethical Wills by Barry K Baines, 2002

Ethical Will's can be passed down in many different ways and formats. The ethical will tutorials below are articulated through video as it was Lawrence Darani's chosen medium. This is because of the poignant nature of seeing someone on film and being able to communicate directly to the viewer.

 

Lawrence Darani (1951-2014)

The MyWishes team were introduced to 'ethical wills' by Lawrence Darani. Lawrence became both someone we supported and a mentor. Before Lawrence died he created a number of ethical will tutorials for those interested in him and his thinking. He hoped that these would serve as guidelines for MyWishes users interested in creating their own ethical will.

 

Lawrence Darani

Creating your Ethical Will(s)

An ethical will can be passed down in many forms. The videos below each have a specific purpose and subject matter to address. Lawrence was inspired by Irvin D. Yalom's book 'Staring At The Sun: Being at peace with your own mortality: Overcoming the Terror of Death'.  We are honoured that both Lawrence and his family have allowed us to show them. In doing so, Lawrence is still educating and teaching despite no longer being with us. His legacy as a existentialist, teacher and forward thinker truly does, 'live on'.

 

Creating your first video

The video below provides a great overview about the person Lawrence was and the values he lived his life by. We hope that you find this as inspiring as we do.

 

The formative events of my life

The formative events of my life is a video that highlights events in Lawrence's life that had a profound influence on him.

 

 

There are no rules regarding what message or messages you should leave after your death. It should however be true to the person you are and take into consideration to feelings of those who will watch it.

 

 If you would like to use MyWishes for free to help develop your own ethical will click here to get started.