Some of the most current research in Australia suggests that at least half of Australians don’t have a valid will. That means when they die without consulting financial planners and legal experts, their loved ones likely don’t know what their wishes are or how they would have wanted their assets to be divided.
Sometimes, it’s not until you become ill that you realise how important having an estate plan can be. By then, you may find yourself struggling to put a plan in place to help your loved ones. If you need a helping hand, some of the information below may be useful.
Make a Medical Treatment Plan
Making a medical treatment plan is one of the most important things to do when you find out you’re sick and begin estate planning. Discuss with your family what your wishes are, including the treatment you would want to have as you reach the end of your life.
Many people include explicit instructions in their medical treatment plans, such as a do-not-resuscitate (DNR) order, not being tube-fed to be kept alive, and not being kept alive artificially on machines.
You may have mentioned this information in passing to a family member or two, but having it written down in a valid will and estate plan that you’ve put together with legal experts like financial planners can mean your wishes may be more likely to be followed.
Make Plans For Your Organs
Around 1,600 people are waiting for a life-saving organ in Australia, yet only around two per cent of people who die in Australian hospitals are eligible for organ donation. If there’s a chance that you might be, consider adding this information to your estate plan.
Your organs may go on to help many people, so consider registering with the Australian Government Organ and Tissue Authority to give someone else the chance to survive when you can’t. Alternatively, you may like to look at donating your entire body to a university for research and teaching.
When you find out you’re dying and begin making arrangements for your family, friends, and possessions, you are likely feeling a lot of different emotions. You’re facing your own mortality, and it can be a lot to come to terms with.
Even in the middle of planning, make sure you take the time to get the emotional support you need. You may have a close friend or family member you can confide in, or you may like to speak to a trained therapist or counsellor.
Dealing with the death of a loved one can be hard enough, but dealing with your own impending death can be even more challenging to work through.
Write a Will
Writing a will is a core part of estate planning when you get sick but preferably before you’re sick. In your will, you can outline your intentions for pets, children, properties, vehicles, and other possessions.
You might also bequeath specific assets to particular members of your family and have instructions for your funeral. For example, some people would prefer to have a private service, while others wish for everyone to be invited.
It can also be worth considering if you prefer cremation or burial with or without embalming. This is a personal choice, and your family may not be aware of your preferences if you haven’t written them down.
When your health starts to decline, and you realise your end is near, make sure you’ve spoken to financial planners and lawyers to tie up loose ends. You can then focus on your health and spending time with your family.