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Only one in four keep their finances tidy

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If your family had to sort out your financial affairs, would they find everything in neatly labelled files, with a clear statement of your accounts, investments and pensions?

Or would they find a metre-high heap of paper, covered in illegible post-it notes, with ancient, possibly-cancelled pensions, savings accounts and old payslips?

A new report from Royal London shows that only one in four people organise their financial information well enough to allow their loved ones to locate it easily on death. The other 40m adults are more haphazard in their approach. More than one in 10 (12%) adults admitted that it would be very difficult for anyone to handle their financial affairs after they died.

One in three adults (33%) have dealt with the financial affairs of someone who has died. In many cases, the difficulty of dealing with another person’s financial affairs has galvanised people into organising their own finances more efficiently. More than two thirds (69%) of this group have their financial affairs well organised compared to those who have never had to deal with this (45%).

In the event of a death, most families rely on savings (33%), followed by pension funds (26%) and cash from the sale of a property (21%). Worryingly, one in seven (14%) adults under 55 didn’t know what assets or income their family would live off if they were to die.

Royal London’s consumer spokesperson, Mona Patel, said: “While it’s unsurprising that money and health are the nation’s top priorities, it is worrying that only a quarter of people have their financial information organised well enough to let someone else deal with it. It’s not nice to have to think about dying, but the last thing you’d want is for your family to struggle to locate and deal with your finances. Perhaps a first step could be writing an “after I’m gone list”, to make it easier for loved ones to deal with your finances.”

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