I have a 'What to do if I die' spreadsheet for my family. Here's why...

I'm lucky that my parents are financially secure and the money wouldn't necessarily be an issue, but I just feel so much better knowing that I'd be relieving some of the stress. And also for my son to know I was prepared.

Phillippa Koushk-Jalali

Tell me about yourself

I'm 32 and a completely solo parent to an 11 year old boy. He has never had any contact with his dad and I have never received any money from him. I'm also a homeowner and a higher rate tax payer. I do unfortunately have some debt, which I am paying off, but also invest for my son in a JISA for his future and save/invest for myself. My son also attends private school and this is a non-negotiable expense for me and I do sacrifice a lot to be able to do this for him. My parents are amazing and have always helped with childcare etc. and I would not be as qualified as I am, and earning as much as I do, without their help and support. Because of all of this, I have made sure I have a good amount of life insurance to leave in trust for my son if anything were to happen to me, as well as critical illness cover, and he would also get a pay out from my employer. My parents and sister would absolutely make sure he was OK, but I always wanted to make sure he could continue in private education, pay for further education if he wished, buy a home etc.. Grief is awful so to know I'd be relieving some of the stress is comforting. My parents are less inclined to talk about dying, I think it's one of those generational things, but they do talk about inheritance they'd like to leave us. I tell them to go and spend it, live their lives! We'll be fine! But equally I'll be doing the same for my son.

What made you start the spreadsheet?

I started the spreadsheet because I saw a post on Instagram where a mum had sadly passed away but had left a folder of instructions for her children to help with everything when she was no longer with them. It really struck a chord with me because if anything happened to me, no one else knows my financial information- bank accounts, investments, savings, life insurance, pension funds etc. and I can imagine how stressful it would be for my family to have to sort out when also grieving. I'm lucky that my parents are financially secure and the money wouldn't necessarily be an issue, but I just feel so much better knowing that I'd be relieving some of the stress. And also for my son to know I was prepared. We have had a few conversations about what would happen to him if anything happened to me, and I think that's because it is just the two of us. Its not nice to think about but I imagine it's a worry of children with one parent. And he has always been happy for us to talk about it.

For anyone wanting to do the same, what kind of info does it include/ how did you set it up?

In terms of the spreadsheet itself, I actually just added a tab in my budget spreadsheet and listed every account that I have under different headings- bank accounts, mortgage, investments, savings, pensions, debt, etc. I have included account numbers, sort codes, passwords etc. as well as who to contact if needed. I will be transferring the information to a physical folder and keeping it in some sort of fireproof storage for easy access. I'm a little nervous about all my financial details being in one place, so I'll need to think about where I keep it. I also have a Will that I'll include in the folder, and, I've been thinking about including a letter to my son. Hopefully I live a long and healthy life but if something awful happens at least I know my son will be OK and some of the stress will be relieved for my family.

What you do for work and where do you live?

I am currently a senior policy & strategy advisor working in the tax industry. And I live in the North West.

Why is your son's dad not in the picture?

My pregnancy was a huge shock/surprise as I was using contraception (but obviously the best thing to ever happen to me!). I didn't know I was pregnant until quite late on in the pregnancy. Myself & his dad had broken up months before after a short relationship. I was only 20 and he was a few years older. It was a shock to him too, and he didn't care to be involved so that was that. He also isn't on the birth certificate. I also talk about this with my son (age and emotion appropriate) and he doesn't want a relationship with his dad right now. I'd be extremely wary for him to have any involvement now. We have very different standards/ ethics/ morals.

Any advice for newly single parents?

I'd say, there are times where it will be tough. I really felt the pressure of being solely responsible in every way for my son, but the bond we have is indescribable. You can and will do it and you'll be amazing! Make use of any help you can, financial, childcare etc.. I was really stubborn about not wanting to use any benefits I would have been entitled to when I was younger as I worked part time and was at uni part time from my son being a month old until he was 4, which is why I ended up getting into debt. It's there for a reason, and you shouldn't be ashamed to use what's there for you. Have the difficult conversations with your kids and share what's appropriate at that time. It really makes them trust you. In some ways you end up closer with your children because it's you and them against the world. πŸ₯°