There’s that expression, ‘you should be putting your affairs in order’ which we all understand as code for telling someone they don’t have long to live!
But the practice of sorting out your ‘affairs’ can happen at any time and, like many things in life, sooner is often better.
If you find yourself needing to think about aged care, and you haven’t thought about putting your affairs in order, you’ll need to do it now.
What does it mean? Well simply, it means, making sure you know where all your important documents are and ideally putting them into one safe place and making arrangements to deal with any unfinished plans about your life, your finances and your wishes.
Making sure you have nominated substitute decision makers that can step in if you become unable to make decisions yourself 2.2 Legal permission to act on someone’s behalf and 2.3 Your substitute decision makers
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Making sure the right people know your plans, where to find everything and any important information that will make things easier for your loved ones.
Assemble your documents
These are some of the main documents and details you need to find and put together:
- birth, marriage, divorce and citizenship certificates
- bank and credit card information
- investment details (e.g. shares, funds, trusts)
- Centrelink and Medicare details
- superannuation information
- private health insurance information
- life insurance information
- other insurance information
- house title(s); lease documents
- mortgage and loan details (e.g. house, car, etc)
- receipts and appraisals for valuables
- tax information
- your will
- substitute decision making documents eg. Power of Attorney, enduring guardian
- advance care directive see 2.3 Your substitute decision makers
- funeral information – including any plans made, wishes etc not included in your will
- names and contact details for your lawyer, financial planner, tax advisor, broker and anyone else with knowledge of - or control over - wills and finances
- a list of all your user names and passwords for important services you perform online
Remember to make copies of the key documents and certificates and have them certified by a person who has the power to certify the copy. The ‘Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages’ in your state has a list of the people who are able to do that. It includes people in certain jobs, like academics, pharmacists, architects, lawyers, teachers, doctors and many others. Having copies of these documents will make everything much easier for you as you negotiate aged care.
At the end of your life, it will also make things much easier for your family and loved ones.
Following is a list of some of the questions you should consider.
Financial and administrative matters
- Are your financial affairs in order?
- Have you nominated someone (or more than one person) to be your substitute decisions makers if you are not able to?
- Do you have a current will?
- Does it need updating?
- Have you prepared a letter setting out gifts or heirlooms for family or friends (if you’d like to do that)?
- Where are your personal valuables, like jewellery stored?
- Who knows and how can they be accessed?
- Do you make regular donations to charities or other organisations?
- Do you have an online log-in and password?
- How can they be notified in the event of your death?
- If you have life insurance, is the beneficiary information up to date?
- If you have superannuation, have you nominated a beneficiary?
- If you do online banking or other transactions online, have you made a list of your various usernames and passwords?
- Do you have the passwords, usernames, log-in details etc for any clubs or organisations you belong to?
- What about subscriptions you have?
- Charities you donate to?
- Does someone know where to find the important papers?
Health and medical matters
- Have you discussed your wishes for end-of-life care with your loved ones and your doctor?
- Have you considered who can make decisions about your end-of-life care if you’re not able to make them yourself?
- Are there certain treatments that you don’t want to have in certain circumstances? For example, a ventilator, use of CPR, tube feeding?
- Have you recorded these decisions in an advance care directive or appointed a substitute decision maker?
- Do you give your permission for organ and tissue donation?
- Other medical treatments?
- Does your doctor know these wishes?
- Who else needs to know?
- Are there unresolved issues that you would like to sort out with particular people?
- Who would you like to have around you as you get closer to death? Are there people you don’t want around?
- Are there any cultural, spiritual or religious practices that you would like carried out before or at the time of your death, or once you have died?
- Who do you need to ask to make sure this happens?
- Do you want a member of the clergy or spiritual adviser with you at the end of your life?
- Do you want to be buried or cremated?
- Do you have a burial plot? Would you like your ashes scattered in a particular place?
- What are your preferences for a memorial service? Have you shared your wishes?