I know this can be an icky topic, but it’s an important one and I’m glad Peter raised it:
Now I’ve reached the stage of life where I have a mortgage and a family I figure it’s time to put a grown up will in place.
This got me thinking about what instructions I need to leave for my surviving relatives and the obligations that they have not only to comply with the law but to also ensure a smooth transition for my couples.
I was wondering if you guys have any tips or could give a basic overview of what process you guys have in place?
There are two important domains here: legal obligations for family members, and general planning for death or injury of a celebrant.
The obligations on family members have changed dramatically in the last couple of years. In the 1963 Marriage Regulations, our obligation to keep all marriage paperwork for six years was passed on to our families when we died or became permanently incapacitated. The 2017 Regulations turned off this obligation. So if you die or become permanently incapacitated, your family (or whoever is looking after your affairs) can simply destroy all of your documents with no issue.
I have a contingency document that sits on my desk that basically says if there’s a drama, call one of these two celebrants and hand over my passwords and files to them. Those celebrants are aware they’re on the list and would just take over all the weddings and farm them out if need be. Definitely have more than one celebrant listed; what if that person is overseas or otherwise unavailable at the time there’s an issue?
I’ve also listed details of my web designer and AdWords/SEO specialist so they can be contacted and told to turn all that stuff off.
The document also has my passwords for my computer, my password manager, and my iPhone listed on it, so whoever is looking after stuff can get into all of my files and accounts. Yes I’m aware this is not the most secure situation in the world, but I live alone and I’m generally the only person who ever comes into my office, and the document is hidden behind a bunch of other documents; you’d have to know it was there to look for it.
The thing I’m bad at is updating that document when things change; I’ve just looked at it and two of my email accounts aren’t listed on it. I think that’s an argument for keeping such a document as simple as possible so that it doesn’t need to be updated too often, but it’s probably good practice to update it once a year at least.
This stuff is important and we need to think about it!