9 Important Things You Should Take Care of as a Family

9 Important Things You Should Take Care of as a Family

Family ties will eventually become tested. This might be due to a traumatic event or involve a time of great joy. There are some things in life that require a family touch.

Use this guide as your checklist. If there’s anything on this list you’ve yet to take care of, do so as soon as possible.

1. Hire a Good Family Lawyer

A competent family lawyer will guide through anything from property disputes to the execution of wills. They will be your rock when everything goes wrong.

Take the time to research lawyers in your area. Ask your friends if they have anyone they can refer to you. Talk to the candidate in question and only choose when you feel comfortable with somebody.

2. Decide on the Wills

The head of the household will eventually fade away. This is inevitable and a lot of families don’t want to think about it.

You have to tackle the subject sooner or later. It’s better to do this now rather than later, or when it’s too late.

Sit the relevant parties down and write down who gets what after you pass away. Consult your family lawyer before proceeding with anything. Make sure it’s the right decision for every family member.

3. Insurance Policies

Insurance is the barrier between financial and emotional ruin. It’s what allows you to have a fresh start when everything goes wrong.

There are a lot of insurance policies for a lot of different things. These are not decisions you take without the full support of your family.

You have to figure out whether it fits in with the family budget, and how often you’ll have to upgrade it. Then there’s the hassle of finding a suitable insurer.

4. The Family Budget

The family budget impacts everybody. Consider your economic situation and where you need to make savings.

It’s important to have a family budget because it helps you to provide a safety net. You don’t want to become another American family that’s only a month away from destitution.

Prepare this on paper so every relevant party can see it. Make sure that your budget is meeting the present and future needs of your household.

5. Education

If you have children, your choice of school or college will seriously impact your offspring’s future. Preparing for the move into the next stage of education requires input from the family.

It might involve deciding what schools to visit, or what subject your offspring should take.

Let your child have the bulk of the decision. You should have the opportunity to put your opinion forward. It doesn’t mean you should force them into anything they don’t want to do, though.

6. Medical Care

Practically every family reaches a point where one of their own has to be taken to hospital. You have to make a decision on their medical care as a family. It’s wise to plan for this early, however.

In the event of a serious illness, your loved one needs to have given the authority for you to dictate their medical care.

For example, you might have to make the decision as to whether they should come off life support. You can only make this decision if they gave you the power to do this.

Sit down as a family and discuss this. It’s a sensitive subject, but it’s a talk that needs to be had.

7. Family Planning

If you’ve reached a point in your life where you’re ready to discuss adding to your family, you need to have this debate.

Too many families in America don’t have a proper plan for their family. We aren’t saying that you have to have a plan for exactly when you need to expand your family. What we’re saying is you should have a rough plan in place.

Even if it’s just making it clear that you’d like to have a child in the next ten years, it’s crucial to open the debate.

8. Property Changes

The homestead is the heart of your family. It’s where everyone spends their time. You want it to be a place everyone covets and everyone enjoys staying in. It’s also something that your family should take of together.

We recommend working with your family whenever you consider making any major changes to your home. Have a debate over the style changes and whether anyone else has a better idea.

It’s also a good idea to get them involved in the execution of the renovations. Someone should take care of finding the contractors, making the decisions, and informing any relevant parties.

Tackling obstacles like this as a family makes everything easier to handle.

9. Emergency Plans

You never know what might happen. Today could be your last day. What’s important is how the rest of your family reacts to an unexpected event, especially the younger members of the family.

One of the things you have to consider is an emergency plan. What should people do in an emergency?

If they should contact a specific family member, or travel to a certain address, make sure everyone knows this. Again, it’s a morbid subject to look into, but it’s a necessary one.

Here are the most important things every family member should know about:

  • Who to contact if you need help.
  • How to get in touch with the family lawyer.
  • How to contact an appointed family guardian who will handle the family’s affairs should something terrible happen.

BUNGSTOPPER: CORRUPTION WOULD VANISH IF COPS HELPED PRESS MORE

There’s been a lot written recently about the supposedly murky world of police-press relations. But amid the sensational tales of bribes and bungs – completely alien, I should say, to most journalists – what’s gone unremarked is just how difficult it is to get the most basic information from the cops.

Frequently, reporters trying to find out why, for example, a flock of police cars are parked up in the middle of the high street are met with, if not downright deception, then certainly obstruction and obfuscation. Inquiries go unanswered, promised return phone calls never materialise. Why?

Around ten years ago, the government made a series of changes to the way the police work, one of which was to make reducing the fear of crime part of their job description. This led to some arguably worthwhile initiatives – neighbourhood policing, for example, has done much to silence those who bemoan a lack of bobbies on the beat.

But somehow police forces up and down the land got it into their heads that the way to drive down the fear of crime was to make it as difficult as possible for the media to find out about it. Guess what? It doesn’t work.

Police who help the media will always get more help from the media

Police who help the media will always get more help from the media

A few years back, I was working a weekend shift on a daily newspaper in the West Midlands. Driving out to a district office on Saturday morning, I found the main underpass into the middle of town had been cordoned off by the police, who were standing guard at each end and stopping anyone from getting through.

This being a largely rural force that didn’t stretch to press officers on the weekend, a phone call was duly made to the duty sergeant, who would only tell me they were investigating ‘an incident’. Despite repeated pleas for more information, that was all he would tell me and that was what he had to report in the paper.

If he’d been trying to play down what had happened, it spectacularly backfired. Over the next 48 hours, Facebook, Twitter and – no doubt – the local pubs and clubs were filled with speculation about the so-called ‘incident’. Some particularly lurid posts claimed to have it on good authority that there had been a rape and murder. One even named the supposed victim.

Come Monday, the force were in a position to categorically assure me it was nothing of the sort, but it’s doubtful many people who’d heard the gossip over the past few days saw the filler tucked away on an inside page of the paper explaining this.

A few months earlier, during a round of early calls on a Monday morning, a different duty sergeant assured me there had been no crimes of interest to the press overnight. Minutes later, a contact called to report there had in fact been a murder. A quick call back to the officer confirmed this. It was reported on the front page later that day.

When asked why he’d neglected to mention such a serious crime, the sergeant told me: ‘You said “overnight”. This happened yesterday evening.’

Those are just a couple of examples from one police force. Others are slightly better, but similar occurences are depressingly common.

And it’s not just us journalists who thinks the system is ridiculously counterproductive. As far back as 2003, the Police Federation pointed out there was no reliable research that linked media reports to an increase in the fear of crime. No one listened, and the policy was rammed through regardless.

It seems to me this lack of fundamental information has been something of an elephant in the room at the Leveson inquiry, which in its second phase is tried to lift the lid on the relationship between the press and the police. A few regional press hands tried to kick it up the agenda, but most involved appeared more interested in a spot of Murdoch-bashing.

I think it’s high time something was done. After all, would there really be any need to pay for information if general inquiries from the media were answered in an open and honest way?

1,000 YEARS OF MURDER: THE SECRETS OF THE OLD BAILEY

Being led to meet your executioner with the noise of a baying mob ringing in your ears is perhaps not the way most of us would chose to meet our end.

It was a fate that befell hundreds of condemned men and women who were led from the cells of the Old Bailey to the scaffold in the street outside.

But those responsible for the convict’s ultimate demise had no sympathy for them – and in fact appeared to delight in making the final journey as tortuous as possible.

They were led from the condemned cell in what was then Newgate Prison through ‘Dead Man’s Walk’ – the last few steps from the court to the gallows.

The prisoner had to go through five archways and each was made narrower than the one before it until the prisoner had to squeeze through the last.

Old Bailey boss Charles Henty on 'Dead Man's Walk'

Old Bailey boss Charles Henty on ‘Dead Man’s Walk’

For those who have trodden those steps the effect is claustrophobic, unsettling and terrifying.

Old Bailey boss Charles Henty, a former Coldstreams Guard Major who is no stranger to some of life’s more unpleasant situations, has no doubt why it was done.

‘It was pure psychological torture. You would be able to hear the crowd from here too,’ he observes.

The walk leads to an open area known as ‘The Birdcage’ where the convict would catch his last ever glimpse of the sky.

‘It’s called ‘The Birdcage’ because it would be covered with a net and it would be a prisoner’s last chance to see natural daylight,’ said Mr Henty.

‘After that you would walk through an exit and have a hood placed upon your head as you stepped up to the scaffold.’

Mr Henty appears to have a gleam in the eye as he adds: ‘There you would be hanged and meet your maker.’

‘You are going down this terribly dark tunnel. You’re going one way and one way only.

‘Occasionally they would also cut the prisoner’s head off after the hanging and display it to the crowd.’

Such was the popularity of seeing criminals hang that 28 people died in a crush in 1807 after a crowd of up to 20,000 rampaged out of control.

Hangings were such a spectator sport that the wealthy even rented ‘window boxes’ that overlooked the gallows so they could enjoy the execution in comfort.

The condemned cell at the Old Bailey. Some of Britain's most notorious killers spend their last night here

The condemned cell at the Old Bailey. Some of Britain’s most notorious killers spend their last night here

Most of the bodies were unceremoniously tossed into a pit and covered in lime and other prisoners may have literally walked over their former cellmate’s graves.

‘If your body was not taken by the family you have the Royal College of Surgeons next door so they could experiment on it,’ Mr Henty said.

‘If it was not claimed he would be thrown into the pit and lime placed over it.’

The condemned cell where inmates would have a last night’s fitful sleep is empty now and less disturbing than ‘Dead Man’s Walk’ – or at least it appears that way to the naked eye.

‘I was asked to take a medium around here once,’ Mr Henty recalls.

‘She got really spooked in the condemned cell. She just refused to go any further at all.

‘About three months later she sent us a crystal to ward off evil spirits.’

Mr Henty, who has the title of Secondary of London, Under-Sherriff and High Bailiff of Southwark, said public executions were halted in 1868.

Condemned men would then be executed inside Newgate Prison where hangings continued for another 34 years.

The current courthouse was built on the site of Newgate in 1907 and the Old Bailey was extended in 1971 – but beneath the courts themselves an eery labyrinth of tunnels, hidden rooms and secret passageways remains.

In one room you can see the clear waters of the River Fleet rushing under the building.

The River Fleet flows beneath the Old Bailey's labyrinth of tunnels and secret rooms

The River Fleet flows beneath the Old Bailey’s labyrinth of tunnels and secret rooms

Another has been turned into an informal museum, with exhibits including an old judge’s wig, the original Old Bailey switchboard and the tin hat of a WWII fire warden.

There are also the old parchment records of cases from hundreds of years ago including the case of Captain William Kidd.

The Old Bailey is the most famous court in the world and the list of those sentenced within its walls is the ultimate ‘who’s who’ of British crime.

The Krays, Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe, William Joyce (‘Lord Haw Haw’) and Dr Harvey Crippen all learnt their fate in the oak panelled courts.

One of Britain’s first serial killers, John Christie blamed his neighbour Timothy Evans for his murder so successfully that Evans hanged – after being tried in Court No1.

When the law caught up with Christie he hanged too – after a trial in the Court No1.

When it came to making the feature film it seemed only right that the courtroom scenes should be shot – yes, in the very same court.

Edwardian spendor...the Old Bailey's grand hall

Edwardian splendour…the Old Bailey’s grand hall

A jail or court has been on the site for over 1,000 years and a Roman wall can even be seen in the foundations.

The City of London Corporation, which owns the building, along with the Ministry of Justice, which runs the legal proceedings, is embarking on a £37m modernisation plan to overhaul some of the ancient facilities.

Most of the work centres on the replacement of the building’s central heating system – an operation so complex that a wall of the building will have to be demolished to get the new boilers in.

There had been talk of abandoning the plans and turning the building into a theme hotel.

‘The Old Bailey stands for a centre of legal excellence internationally,’ Mr Henty said.

‘For it to disappear with its massive past was something I wanted to avoid at all costs.

‘I have been quoted as saying: ”Over my dead body.”

OBSTRUCTION OF THE PRESS AT SOUTHWARK CORONERS’ COURT

Withholding the location of deaths by staff at Southwark Coroner’s Court has been the most disturbing development in my career as a crime reporter, writes Henri Burgess.

When someone dies in unexplained circumstances it falls upon the coroner to investigate in a public tribunal who that person was and where and how they met their end.

Southwark Coroners' Court: A law unto itself?

Southwark Coroners’ Court: A law unto itself?

Inquests are open to the press and information can only be withheld in exceptional circumstances.

The location of a person’s death is a matter of public interest and without it a newspaper or website cannot report the case.

It is no use only stating that someone who hanged themselves lived in Battersea to someone who lives in Battersea; residents expect and are entitled to a precise location.

Coroners and the coroners’ officers who investigate the cases for them have always recognised the needs of the press, who are after all the eyes and ears of the public who in turn pay their wages.

Throughout Britain, the staff who organise and preside over inquests are helpful and freely disclose the details necessary for the press to do their job.

That is why the singular attitude of the staff at Southwark Coroner’s Court in repeatedly refusing to disclose the location of a person’s death is to me the most astonishing example of official wrong-headedness.

Staff not only refuse to give these details – they also decline to give the first name of a witness if that person did not disclose it in open court.

They also refuse to clarify any information given at the inquest to reporters and inquiries of members of staff are met with: ‘We don’t speak to the press.’

It’s an absolute scandal.

What makes this obstruction of the press all the more concerning to me is the attitude of Dr Andrew Harris, the Coroner for Inner South District of Greater London.

It was three months, yes, three months, before Dr Harris replied to my letter to him and he then took the opportunity to complain about my ‘tone’ and make previously unaired accusations against my reporting staff.

He also added some helpful tips of his own on how journalists should learn their craft.

His letter stated: ‘It should be basic to the training of all journalists that no person may approach a judicial officer whilst he or she is sitting and this is regularly breached by your staff.’

I am not aware of an occasion when a reporter for cournewsuk has ever tried to approach a coroner when he is on the bench. But why should a journalist not ask a coroner why the location of a death is being kept a secret when he is off the bench?

There is a famous example where a coroner has retrieved documents from his car boot to help a reporter and the great coroners of London, such as John Sampson, Dr Paul Knapman and the legendary Sir Montague Levine were always as helpful to the press as they could possibly be.

I believe Dr Harris’s attitude belongs to the medieval fiefdoms of the dark ages, especially as is come at a time when the Ministry of Justice is working so hard to encourage transparency.

In his letter, Dr Harris also demonstrates his expertise as a journalist when he states: ‘I do not accept your assertion that without the full address of the deceased an inquest cannot be covered.’

Reporters are not taught that it is wrong to approach a coroner who is, after all, a public servant funded by the taxpayer and not a member of the Bulgarian royal family.

They are taught that failure to precisely identify a person can lead to a libel case, as the classic authority of Newstead v London Express Papers (1940) so amply demonstrates.

Perhaps the most worrying episode of this whole debacle is that it appears a coroner can do exactly as he pleases.

I have complained about the withholding of basic information at Southwark Coroner’s Court to the Office of Judicial Complaints but they have told me they can only deal with matters of policy.

INQUEST, the charity that provides free advice service to bereaved people on contentious deaths does not appear to be unduly worried about the dangers of creeping secrecy within the judicial process.

I contacted the Coroner’s Society and one of their members was good enough to call me to express his amazement at the attitude of Dr Harris – but that was then end of that.

Southwark Council, who actually pay Dr Harris’s salary say they can’t do anything either.

So it appears Southwark Coroner’s Court can continue to keep the press in the dark and is answerable to no-one.

At the end of his letter Dr Harris states: ‘I should add that we have a culture of being a learning organisation.’

I suggest he needs to learn that the press has a duty to perform by reporting his public forum and without disclosing basic details he defies the principles of open justice upon which democracy in this country depends.

We can only hope that when the former Old Bailey judge Peter Thornton becomes chief coroner he will put an end to the nonsense at Southwark Coroner’s Court.

We will waste no time complaining to him about this disgraceful affront to open justice.