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Settlement Guide: How to plan ahead for when you’re no longer around

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In many cultures, talking about death can be taboo, but it's important not to avoid these conversations. You may not decide when and how you’ll die, but you can still take steps so that your wishes are respected at the end of your life.

Talking about death can be daunting, but it’s better to do when we’re well rather than wait until it’s too late.

Here's a list of things you should get in order now to make life easier for you and your loved ones when the times comes.

Wills

  • In many countries, when a person dies, their property or assets are automatically given to the family. However, in Australia, making a will is the only way you can ensure your assets will be distributed according to your wishes.
  • The will needs to be clear to reduce the chances of arguments as to who gets what. For this reason, it’s recommended to get independent legal advice rather than using a will-kit.
  • Choose an executor that you trust and who is good with finance. You can also appoint a professional.
  • Anyone over 18 can make a will, as long as they have the mental capacity to understand what they are undertaking.
  • It’s important to keep the will up-to-date when your circumstances change, like when you marry, divorce or have grandchildren.
  • If you have substantial assets both in Australia and overseas, it’s recommended that you make two wills.

Man signing will
Many people don't think to write their wills young.
Getty Images

Advance Care Directives

The Advance Care Directive, also known as a 'living will', ensures that your wishes are respected when you can no longer make medical decisions for yourself.

"It is a form which sets the medical care you wish to receive or not receive, in case you're no longer able to speak for yourself, Or make decisions for yourself, " explains solicitor Nalika Padmasena from the Aged Rights Service in New South Wales.

"It is also advisable that you fill in this form in consultation with your doctor because your doctor knows your medical history," she says.

"It is particularly important when you have a progressive illness or life-limiting illness or terminal condition. You can give general and specific instructions in that document about the treatment, such as resuscitation, life support or artificial feeding.

"So these are the things that you can decide to, whether you want to carry on or not"

Organ Donation

Have you thought about becoming an organ donor? If your answer is yes, the first thing to do is register on the Australian donor register. You can do it online here.

You also need to speak to your family and let them know that you’ve registered as a donor. You can find out more about organ donation here.

Talk to your loved ones

Through all that process, it’s important that you talk to your loved ones about your end-of-life plan. You can also inform them of your preferences for funeral and burial.

Dying to Know Day
Dying to Know Day

Dying to Know Day

With events all over Australia on 8 August, Dying to Know Day wants to create conversation around death. It’s a good opportunity to think about your end-of-life plan and talk to your family.

Useful links

Dying to Know Day

The GroundSwell Project

Palliative Care Australia

Wills and Power of Attorney

Advance Care Directives

Register to be an organ donor

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