Do your loved ones know exactly what to do if you die suddenly? Use this as a checklist

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Not many of us know how we'll die. Financial experts break down the process of creating and keeping estate documents updated for you.
Not many of us know how we'll die. Financial experts break down the process of creating and keeping estate documents updated for you.

We all know to keep our passwords hidden in a safe place and not to share the pin codes to our cellphones, laptops or cloud drives with anyone.

But when you die suddenly and your loved ones quickly need to get cash for immediate expenses from your accounts, do they know which banks you use or know what policies you have?

What happens when information needed for loved ones to initiate claims related to your death are locked away in your laptop or smartphone?

“When a person passes away, banks will freeze all bank accounts,” says Matlhodi Leteane, Head of Client Experience at FNB Fiduciary. “Only a duly appointed executor has will be able to access any credits in bank accounts or investments for the purposes of transferring this to beneficiaries as part of the estate admin process.”

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“It’s important to not share bank account passwords or pin numbers,” warns Matlhodi who breaks down the process of creating and keeping estate documents updated as follows:

• Keep an updated inventory relating to all your assets especially information that only you know about.

• Also consider digital assets.

• Ensure your important documents are kept save and that your closest family member knows where to find it. 

• But keep confidential information safe.

• It’s important to not share bank account passwords or pin numbers

Because your family will not be allowed access to your bank accounts and investments when you die, it’s vital to consider how to make provision for dependant family members should anything happen to you considering they will not have access to bank accounts, says Matlhodi.

“Also consider the benefits of funeral policies or life assurance payable to beneficiaries.”

Use this as a checklist to make sure all your affairs are in order and easily accessible for at least one trusted person to find once you pass on.

  • Funeral cover

This ensure your funeral expenses are taken care of with by paying a nominal monthly premium towards the policy which is paid out within a short period time upon your death. 

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For example, for R20 000 funeral cover, you pay a monthly premium of R55, says Lee Bromfield, CEO of FNB Life, “thus removing the financial burden on your loved ones and giving your family access to cash in their time of need”.

  • Accidental death plan

“It offers cover from R200 000 to R3 million for Accidental Death, says Lee.

“Beneficiaries can use the money to cover any type of unexpected expenses. There are no medical tests or questions. There is an individual plan that covers your own accidental death and a family plan that covers your accident death and those of your spouse and up to five children.”

  • Life cover

“This combines traditional life cover with rich added benefits, so that in the event of your death your family receives a lump sum pay out, a R30 000 funeral pay out within 24 hours, and a spend protect pay out that covers your average monthly card spend for a period of 3 months – thus giving your family access to more than enough funds to manage their day-to-day needs.”

  • Debt protection plans

“Debt protection covers your outstanding debt in the event of death, disability, or unemployment/inability to earn an income. Plans span across the various debt covers for your credit card, overdraft facility, revolving finance debt, home loans & housing finance mortgage, and personal loans.”

  • Last Will and Testament

To avoid dying intestate and your deceased estate being the subject of years-long conflict among loved ones when you’ve died.

  • Funeral planning declaration 

Come from a Pentecostal home but have since moved away from organised religion or joined another faith? This declaration makes it clear what kind of funeral you want, who the undertakers are, and whether you want to get cremated, buried.

  • Policies and recurring expenses 

Have an updated list of all bank accounts, insurance (including policy numbers), monthly expenses with the details of accounts to which these expenses are paid, and debit orders.


Lee Bromfield, CEO of FNB Life, responded to some frequently asked questions that bereaved loved ones may need to know.

At what stage is the deceased credit card, revolving credit, and overdraft get paid up by their credit life policy.

We settle these debts on death or permanent disability, upon successful assessment of a valid claim.

Is there an application process that loved ones need to go through?

Client’s loved ones can call in and we will guide them to help them log a claim with our assessors.

Do personal, Home and vehicle loans also get paid for by the credit life policy by the credit life provider in the same way and time frame? 

In short, yes. All death benefits will be handled by the same department in the same way. If there is an active credit life cover on a loan or line of credit, we pay out all valid claims. 

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