The topic of end-of-life planning is a conversation many people shy away from, yet it is a critical aspect of ensuring a smooth transition for both the individual and their loved ones. In Australia, like many other countries, end-of-life planning encompasses various aspects, including legal and financial considerations, healthcare decisions, and legacy preservation.
The following delve into the importance of planning for end-of-life situations, offer tips for effective preparation, and emphasise the role of family involvement in the process.
Dying-to-Know Day is an initiative in Australia that encourages individuals and families to engage in conversations about death and end-of-life planning. Observed every 8 August, It offers resources, workshops, and events aimed at demystifying the process and empowering individuals to make informed choices.
In 2022, the organisers collaborated with The Groundswell Project Australia and YouGov to collate Australian attitudes on their future passing, using data from YouGov over three days in June 2022 with 1,027 Aussies over 18 years old as respondents.
The study noted that while 87 per cent of Australians understood the importance of end-of-life planning, there were still differing attitudes by age group. Fifty-nine per cent in the over-65 category stated they already have some end-of-life measures being prepared against 32 per cent for ages 50-64 – while only 16 per cent of 18-34 years thought of planning it as well.
The study pointed out that 39 per cent of people in the capital cities are considering end-of-life against 32 per cent of respondents in regional Australia.
The Need for End-of-Life Planning
While it may be uncomfortable to contemplate, end-of-life planning is an essential step towards ensuring that your wishes are respected and your loved ones are not burdened with difficult decisions during an already emotional time.
End-of-life planning allows you to maintain control over your medical treatment preferences, financial decisions, and other important matters, even when you may not be able to communicate them directly.
When your dying wishes are not clearly defined, family members may face agonising decisions without guidance, potentially leading to disagreements and emotional strain. The study acknowledged 48 per cent of respondents as saying the preparation gave them much mental relief. A female respondent who lost her mother two years before said her mother was careful to define her roadmap with frequent reviews.
End-of-life planning is an opportunity to ensure that your personal and financial legacy is preserved according to your wishes, benefiting your loved ones and the causes you care about.
Properly planned end-of-life arrangements can trim the potential for legal disputes and uncertainties among family members.
Tips for Effective End-of-Life Planning
The above survey does take in some cardinal elements for end-of-life preparation well, with the factors defined below:
- Open communication. Start by having open and honest conversations with your family about your end-of-life preferences. This can include decisions about medical treatments, funeral arrangements, and distribution of assets, especially the Superannuation Death Benefits Nomination, which the study pointed to as having been done by 38 per cent of respondents.
- Create a will. A will is a legally binding document that outlines how you want your assets to be distributed after your passing. Consulting an estate planning solicitor can help ensure your will accurately reflects your wishes and adheres to legal requirements. The study noted a strong 69 per cent as one of the common yet effective preparation measures made by Australians.
- Power of Attorney. Designate someone you trust to make healthcare and financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated. This can help avoid confusion and disagreements among family members. The study accounted for 36 per cent of respondents as having set up enduring powers of attorney.
- Advance healthcare directive. Prepare an advance healthcare directive, also known as a living will, to specify your medical treatment preferences in case you cannot express them yourself. Thirty-two per cent of respondents have confirmed setting this up.
- Organ donation preferences. If you wish to donate organs or tissues upon your passing, make your intentions known through official organ donor programmes.
- Legacy preservation. Consider how you want to be remembered. You can document personal stories, values, and life lessons for future generations or contribute to charitable causes. The study noted in particular that 21 per cent of respondents do collate their digital assets and access codes while 6 per cent are working to chronicle the best parts of their lives for remembrance.
- Review and update. Regularly review and update your end-of-life plans as circumstances vary, such as changes in your family structure, financial situation, or health status.
The Role of Family Involvement
Family involvement is integral to effective end-of-life planning. Families should encourage open conversations about end-of-life wishes, creating an environment where individuals feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and preferences.
The above survey underlined the importance of open talks, with 52 per cent admitted having shared with their loved ones about end-of-life – but 23 per cent, or 4.5 million Aussies, are uncomfortable with the conversation.
Family members should be informed about the individual’s appointed power of attorney and healthcare directives. This ensures that decisions align with the person’s wishes in case they are unable to communicate.
Planning for end-of-life can be emotionally challenging. Family members can provide comfort, understanding, and a listening ear during discussions and decisions.
Families can collaborate on legacy preservation efforts, such as collecting and documenting family stories, photos, and memorabilia.
While family involvement is important, they have to respect the individual’s autonomy and wishes. Ensure that decisions are made in alignment with their expressed preferences.
The ASAG Reverse Mortgage
End-of-life planning is an integral part of ensuring a smooth transition for yourself and your loved ones.
The ASAG Reverse Mortgage facility provides assistance for funeral expenses via Funeral Loans. Depending on the amount of equity in your home, the loan you receive can potentially cover all your funeral expenses.
If you’d like to learn more about our equity release options, please don’t hesitate to contact ASAG at 1300 002 724 or send an email to email@example.com.
Furthermore, you can evaluate your own equity using the tool provided below.
DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. The Australian Seniors Advisory Group has no relations with any end-of-life care service or the Dying-to-Know Day organisers. Please consult your estate planning solicitor.