Return Ticket

2 min read 09 April 2020

I think of end of life as having a ‘return to sender’ ticket that we are all born with and studiously ignore!

It’s an invisible return ticket, to destination unknown. You can’t take anything with you when the plane takes off not even your mobile phone, so no last minute texts saying ‘Sorry i didn’t get round to writing my will but the kids get the lot’ or ‘my will is at the back of in my sock drawer – sorry I didn’t get round to updating it’.

Return Ticket

So we ignore it. We ignore it when we’re young because we have the arrogance of youth and we believe that we’re immortal.

We ignore it when we’re adults even though we know we will not live forever, since preparing for our end of life clearly indicates that we are going to die at some point and – well – that’s unimaginable.

When we hear of the death or terminal illness of a friend or acquaintance out comes the ticket – quick furtive glance – and then back it goes

When death hits closer to home we put it on the kitchen table glancing at it every time we walk past, perhaps calling out to our partner ‘darling we must do something about our will’ before slipping the ticket to the bottom of the pile of mail and then quietly returning it to our back pocket telling ourselves that we really must deal with this at a later date. But of course we don’t.

When your flight is called and you have no choice but to ‘head to the airport’ with your ticket in hand you want to be as certain as you can that your journey to the airport is as stress free as possible, so you will want to make sure you are organised before you get on that plane.

You don’t want to be worrying about who will feed the dog and whether anyone will discover that your grandmother’s priceless diamond ring is hidden in the sugar bowl (as mine was, discovered only by accident) or realise that as you haven’t left a will, and there is no other parent, so the courts will have to decide who will look after your children.

There is no upside to lack of preparation

No one will thank you for leaving your affairs in a mess. No one will thank you if you haven’t made it clear that you want to be buried not cremated (or vice versa) so that families fall out at a time that they most need to pull together.

No one will thank you if they have to spend hours trying to figure out the computer password that unlocks all the information critical to paying your family’s bills and the key to the family’s survival.

‘My partner’ sounds very loving and committed until you die and they find out it means nothing at all in the eyes of the law. Common law relationships do not exist in the legal world and haven’t done since 1753, so your partner will not thank you when they find out that without a will or some legal footing they have no rights to any part of your estate.

And that diamond ring, hopefully no longer in the sugar bowl, to whom did you promise that? Resentments can rumble away for years and the promisee will not thank you if they’re denied that gift because you haven’t written it down.

Everyone is caught up in an emotional drama when someone dies, but after the funeral there’s a pause when reality strikes and the need for organisation sets in. Bills need to be paid, possessions need to be sorted and it is now that the deceased person’s wishes are made clear.

Or not.

And if not – no one will thank you for it.