Planning For End Of Life

older couple planning detailsWhen you’re busy living life to the full it’s easy to put off planning for the day when you’re not here anymore – or talking to family and friends about death.

Avoiding the subject until you, or someone close to you, is seriously ill can make things difficult – especially when you, or they, are too ill to talk about what happens next.

Inevitably, people will be asked to make end of life decisions for you – and it will be so much easier for them if they already know how you’d like your funeral to be, and what you want to happen to your possessions.

When all is said and done

We’ve put some helpful advice together to help you and your family plan for those difficult times – and cope with them when they arrive.

Advance Decisions (Living Will)

Make sure that your wishes concerning resuscitation, medication or treatment are taken into account, even if you can’t communicate them, by making a ‘living will’ which gives you the opportunity to put them down in writing, in advance.

These advance decisions are legally binding – so those caring for you have an obligation to follow your instructions, even if it could lead to your death; but this only comes into effect if you lose the capacity make decisions or communicate them yourself.

Visit Age UK to find out more about advance decisions, or living wills

Making a Will

making a willWriting a will is the only legally recognised way of making sure your money, property, possessions and investments (known as your estate) go to the people and causes you care about.

See our Making A Will page for more information and to download a factsheet.

Read more advice on making a will from Age UK

Writing a Will can be daunting and if not worded properly can cause misunderstandings and sometimes ill feeling between family members and friends.  You might have told some people about your wishes and not others, members of your family might have different views about your wishes.

Using a solicitor to write your Will

Writing a Will with a solicitor can save a lot of confusion and heartache.  They’re trained to help you realise your assets and may not be as expensive as you think. You might not think you have anything to leave but this is not always as clear cut.

There are some charities that will help you for free at certain times of the year, sometimes for a donation; visit Free Wills Month and Will Aid and other recognised charities. Also The Money Advice Service article on using a solicitor to write your Will is a very useful resource to understand why a Will might be beneficial.

Make use of a trusted family member to know where your Will is.  They can attend appointments with you. Also let someone you trust know where the details are of bank accounts and insurance documents especially if you don’t have a Will. You don’t have to give passwords or sensitive information but do provide contact numbers and account or policy numbers.

Choosing not to make a Will

If you choose not to make a Will with a solicitor make sure that more than one person understands your wishes to avoid confusion and upset. The more organised you are will avoid unnecessary stress to the ones you love and give you more peace of mind.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

lasting power of attorneyA power of attorney is a legal document allowing someone else to make decisions for you, or act on your behalf, when you are no longer able to. You can give a family member or close friend lasting power of attorney at any time – stipulating that they can only act for you under specific conditions.

See our Lasting Power Of Attorney page for more information and to download a factsheet.

You can also find helpful information at:

Age UK  legal advice
Sue Ryder Foundation 'Better Death Guide'

Planning Your Funeral

These days, people often plan their funerals long before they die.  Whether you like the idea of a traditional religious ceremony, a Humanist service, or a Green and Woodlands funeral, you need to let your family and friends know what you want.

Thinking about your funeral, or planning it in advance, can feel really strange; but leaving some guidance for those you’re leaving behind will make organising your funeral less stressful. It will also reassure them that they are celebrating your life in the way you wanted.

Funeral costs are increasing, starting from £3,500, but there are various funeral plans available to help you put money aside in advance. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t want any fuss, you can even look into having a ‘no frills’ funeral.

Find out more about funeral plans at:

Age UK 'The Basic Plan'
Sue Ryder 'Planning ahead for your funeral'
Co-operative Funeral Care