Learn how to avoid the 36 common End of Life Planning mistakes
Imagine you could avoid making many of the common mistakes in your End-of-Life Plans that will cost your loved one’s unnecessary stress and money?
Many people rely on professionals, but will you receive what you wanted?
It doesn’t have to be this way
What if I told you avoiding End-of-Life Planning mistakes is easy
All you need to do is follow this guide and you will avoid many of the common mistakes that people make. Because in this article I’m going to tell you exactly what you need to know to avoid making End of Life Planning mistakes. Absolutely free, by reading through this article.
End-of-Life Planning Mistakes
The question you need to ask yourself when tragic events occur, was any End of Life Planning done?
The following is a list of some of the common and not so common mistakes that everyday people make about End of Life Planning. You will learn the consequences of making these End-of-Life (EOL) Planning mistakes and what to avoid.
This will be invaluable when considering your own End of Life Plans, assisting someone else, or when working with other professionals. The reality is that small unintentional mistakes may cause the most problems, be stressful, and expensive to rectify.
Part of the End of Life Planning process is dealing with the legal paperwork to carry out your wishes.
So, let’s get started.
1. END-OF-LIFE PLANNING IS LIKE EUTHANASIA OR ASSISTED DYING
Definitely not…… Euthanasia and Assisted Dying are still illegal in every state within Australia.
End of Life Planning is about ensuring what your wishes for your care are known when you are unable to communicate your wishes.
2. YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE TIME TO DISCUSS YOUR END OF LIFE CARE PLAN
Unfortunately, statistically, you probably won’t!
About 90 percent of people say that talking with a loved one
about End of Life Care is important, but, only 27 percent do it. (2)
3. TALKING ABOUT DEATH AND END OF LIFE WILL HASTEN THE EVENT
No, talking about death won’t kill you but it will make your death a lot less stressful and less painful for you and your loved ones.
4. AVOIDING STARTING AN END OF LIFE CONVERSATION AS IT’S TOO HARD
Talking about death and dying is not something that comes naturally to most people. Concerned about what your loved ones will think if you try to discuss your final wishes and desires is nothing compared to failing to do it.
An End of Life Conversation can prevent estate planning mistakes and save everyone heartache, money, stress, uncertainty and possibly needless treatments if you broach the topic with the best of intentions.
5. NO ONE CAN HAVE A ‘GOOD DEATH’
A ‘Good Death’ is about whether you have control over where you die, the care that you will be provided with, who will be there to support you and make sure your symptoms (pain) is well managed. So, if you wish to die with dignity, a choice, privacy and support you must plan for it.
6. BELIEVING YOUR DEATH WILL BE AT HOME
Another Australian myth. Although most Australians say they would prefer to die at home, this is not the reality.
7. NOT HAVING A WILL FOR YOUR ESTATE?
If you die without a Will, your estate will be distributed to your family based on a specific formula that differs in each Australian State.
For example, if you’re married or in a de facto relationship and have children from a previous relationship:
- In NSW, your spouse gets the first $350,000 of your estate, your personal effects and 50% of the rest of the estate; your children get what’s left, compared to
- In Victoria, your spouse gets the first $100,000 of your estate, your personal effects and 1/3rd of the rest of the estate; your children get what’s left.
It is estimated that only 55% of Australians have a valid Will, with the
remaining 45% having no Will or a Will that has not been updated. (1)
8. FAILING TO UPDATE YOUR WILL BEFORE YOUR DEATH
In many Australian states, your Will is no longer valid if you marry or get divorced. If you’re separated but not divorced, your ex-partner can often still inherit. This is probably not what you would have wished for!
9. THINKING YOUR WILL IS FINAL AND BINDING ON YOUR DEATH
Most, of your property, can be disposed of in a Will. Some of the common reasons your Will could be changed is:
- The beneficiaries do not consider they have received a fair share of the estate and they want to make a claim
- A person has left a Will that only deals with part of the estate, or
- The Will is out of date
To learn more about How to Avoid Your Will from being changed after your death and why this occurs.
10. NOT UNDERSTANDING THE LAW RELATING TO WILLS AND ESTATES
Not realising debts don’t die with you – they must be paid out from your estate.
Even if you disinherited various family members or dependents, may still be able to contest your Will.
11. TRYING TO SAVE MONEY AND USING A “DIY” WILL FOR YOUR ESTATE PLANNING
To ensure a Will is valid several specific issues that need special consideration and knowledge of the law must be correctly accounted for. These instances include:
- A blended family
- You’re separated from a spouse and have not yet had a property settlement
- Property you wish to give to someone which would otherwise automatically go to someone else such as a joint owner
12. NOT NAMING A SUPERANNUATION DEATH BENEFICIARY – I HAVE A WILL
People often believe their Will is all that is required when nominating the person to whom they wish to leave their superannuation monies to.
In fact, superannuation will not be automatically distributed as part of your Will. It is not classified as an ‘estate’ asset and thus not included in the Will
13. SUPERANNUATION DEATH BENEFIT NOMINATIONS ARE BINDING FOREVER
No, they must be reconfirmed every 3 years otherwise it will lapse. The person who will receive your superannuation payout will then be at the discretion of the Super Fund’s Trustee
14. CONFUSION OVER THE TYPE OF POWER OF ATTORNEY
There is a General Power of Attorney that is a legal document which grants control of your financial affairs to another person for a specific period.
An Enduring Power of Attorney – gives someone else control of your financial life indefinitely
15. NOT KNOWING WHEN A POWER OF ATTORNEY STARTS OR STOPS
A General Power of Attorney is no longer valid once you become incapacitated or unable to communicate.
In contrast, an Enduring Power of Attorney is activated when you’re no longer mentally or physically capable of making informed decisions.
16. YOU MAY NOT HAVE A SAY IN WHO WILL CONTROL YOUR ESTATE
This can be a difficult decision for you to make and get this organised, but don’t delay once you recognise the need. If you are deemed to lack the mental capacity to look after your finances (i.e. due to Dementia), it’s too late to enact an Enduring Power of Attorney.
17. INHERITANCE IMPATIENCE – DON’T BECOME A VICTIM OF A BAD ATTORNEY
In the hands of a family member, an Enduring Power of Attorney agreement amounts to giving them a blank cheque. Once your Power of Attorney is applied there’s no independent oversight of the person you have nominated as your “attorney” who has control of your affairs.
Misuse of an Enduring Powers of Attorney is occurring more regularly to parents by their own children. This occurrence is common enough to have earned itself the title of “inheritance impatience”.
18. FAMILY AND MONEY A TREACHEROUS MIX
The best option for you is to have your nominated person that will hold your Enduring Power of Attorney be totally without any possible conflict of interest issues. This would be someone who doesn’t stand to gain (not legally) from taking over your affairs. This will rule out most family members.
19. KEEP THEM HONEST – LAWYERS ADVICE
When it comes to entering into financial transactions always seek independent legal advice. This is very important when the other person is going to benefit from the deal (especially family members). This is also important if you are going to act as a guarantor for a loan or you are going to reverse mortgage your property to help family members.
20. ENDURING POWER OF GUARDIANSHIP
Depending on your specific State legislation, you can appoint an Enduring Guardian or Substitute Decision-Maker. This is not a Power of Attorney, they cannot make decisions in relation to your property or financial matters.
21. NOT UNDERSTANDING WHAT AN ADVANCE CARE PLAN IS?
An Advance Care Plan will state your preferences for future health care decisions if you cannot make decisions relating to medical treatment options for yourself at the time due to an accident or illness.
22. WHEN THE TIME COMES, I WILL DECIDE
A myth…… Research has shown that up to 50% of patients are incapable
of taking part in important End-of-Life decisions for themselves.
23. THINKING YOU CAN REFUSE TREATMENT
Only adult patients that have the “decision-making capacity” have a right to consent to or refuse medical treatments recommended to them by a doctor. Even any life-sustaining treatments
24. YOUR ADVANCE CARE DIRECTIVE MUST BE IN WRITING
Though it’s always recommended to have your Advance Directive written and often in a specific legal format, it is not legally required in some Australian states.
25. MY ADVANCE DIRECTIVE OR LIVING WILL IS VALID AUSTRALIA WIDE
No, each Australian State has their own individual legislation to cover Advance Directives and Enduring Guardianships and it may not be legally enforceable in another State.
26. DO ADVANCE DIRECTIVES GIVE YOU CONTROL?
An Advance Health Directive is the legal way of giving instructions for your future health care. Your Advance Directive outlines any medical treatment preferences or the ones you don’t wish to have administered to you in the event you cannot communicate or are deemed incapable of providing informed consent.
A study has shown that over 50% of seriously ill hospital patients would rather not be kept alive on life support when there is little hope of significant recovery. Therefore, Advance Directives are important.
27. DOCTORS CANNOT OVERRIDE MY ADVANCE DIRECTIVE?
Irrespective of state legislation, medical professionals have the power to dismiss the document if they disagree with the Directive where they believe you were not fully aware of all the facts or options at the time of making the Directive.
28. MOST AUSTRALIANS HAVE AN ADVANCE DIRECTIVE ORGANISED
No, an Australia survey found that
“Only 14% of Australians have an
Advance Care/Health Directive in place. ” (2)
29. TERMS USED ARE COMMON IN EACH STATE
Again no. The states also use different terms, for example, you can record your treatment choices through Advance Care Directives, Health Directions or Anticipatory Directions.
Which terms are used in your State?
30. YOUR DIGITAL LIFE AND ONLINE SOCIAL MEDIA WILL CLOSE AUTOMATICALLY WHEN YOU DIE
No, many people neglect to consider their online life or access to their various important accounts and documents that are stored on their computers or in the Cloud.
31. YOU NEED TO CONSIDER YOUR PETS
Pets are considered from a legal viewpoint as personal property. Therefore, you are required to clearly state who would be providing the care for them after you have died. Remember to also allocate some money for their care.
You love your “best friend” so make sure your pet
will be looked after when you leave
32. FAILURE TO WRITE AN ETHICAL WILL OR LEGACY LETTER
You do not know when your End of Life will be so I encourage you to consider writing a Legacy Letter or an Ethical Will message to your loved ones. It is all about putting into writing what you value the most, what you would like your loved ones to know about you, what life lessons you have learnt or how you felt about them. A gift to pass down to future generations.
33. FUNERAL PLANNING – IS NOT MY CONCERN I’LL BE DEAD
Not having communicated your wishes in relation to your funeral will increase the stress and frustration felt by your loved ones. It will also cause them to have lingering doubts and often left wondering if they had done what you would have wanted in relation to your funeral to honour or celebrate your life.
You will need to inform your loved ones about any funeral requests such as if you want a burial or cremation, which holy book readings or inspirational poems you would like read out at your service.
34. FAILURE TO HAVE AN END OF LIFE CONVERSATION
The purpose of an End of Life Conversation is to enable everyone the opportunity to discuss and explain what their individual expectations are in relation to their medical, emotional, personal, and spiritual care they wish to receive towards the end of their life.
Although difficult for many people, this conversation about dying long before any life-threatening situation develops is so important but usually neglected. An End of Life Conversation will reduce the stress, depression and anxiety often suffered by grieving family members.
35. PROCRASTINATING THE WORST MISTAKE, YOU CAN MAKE
Saying “better late than never” will not apply to End of Life Planning, which makes procrastination the worst mistake you can make.
“Not acting when you can, could be the
worst mistake you will ever make!”
Most of us know we should prepare an End-of-Life plan, complete with a Will and a record of accounts. We use all kinds of excuses to justify why we
- Feel it isn’t the right time, because we’re too busy,
- Don’t know what to do
- Don’t know where to begin, or
- Believe we need not worry about it right now.
If you don’t start today you may never have the chance too!
36. NOT HAVING THOUGHT ABOUT YOUR END-OF-LIFE PLANS
It’s important to consider your End of Life Planning in advance, which will put your mind at ease and avoid the common mistakes that people often make before they die.
You will be able to make financial, legal and other decisions much easier for your family to deal with upon your passing and what you wish to occur.
The reality is creating an End-of-Life plan doesn’t have to be difficult, nor does it have to take a lot of time – it’s never too early to start.
At the very least, think of the above End of Life Planning mistakes that people make and act to reduce stress for your loved ones for when you’re no longer able to make decisions.
Planned Wishes believes that undertaking this End of Life Planning will allow your family to have a clear vision of your planned wishes. This will enable you to spend quality time with your family and not be burdened at a time when you should be appreciating your final moments with your loved ones.
Planning for death before you die is for
everyone’s benefit and peace of mind.
(1) Relationships Australia, (2016), May 2016: End of Life Planning, viewed at http://www.relationships.org.au/what-we-do/research/online-survey/
(2) NSW Trustee & Guardian, Attorney General & Justice, What is a Will? viewed at http://www.tag.nsw.gov.au/what-is-a-will.html
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Frequently Asked Questions
Why is End of Life Planning Important?
If you fail to start your End of Life Planning you will ultimately fail to provide your family with clear instructions and insight on what you want to happen when you’re no longer able to make decisions for yourself. This includes the type of medical treatment, care or the type of funeral you would want.
What is a “Good Death”?
A ‘Good Death’ is about whether you have control over where you die, the care that you will be provided with, who will be there to support you and make sure your symptoms (pain) is well managed. So, if you wish to die with dignity, a choice, privacy and support, you need to do your own End of Life Planning.
Benefits of avoiding End of Life Planning Mistakes?
Avoiding the common End of Life Planning mistakes will enable you to focus and be able to spend the last precious moments with your family. Not being burdened or worried about trying to express your final wishes or have your family tormented over if the decisions they had to make on your behalf were the right ones.
What are some common End of Life Planning Mistakes?
1. Avoiding having End of Life Conversations
2. Thinking you’ll always have time to discuss your End of Life Care Plans and Funeral Arrangements.
3. Failing to have or update your Will or Power of Attornery
4. Not having or understanding what Advance Care Plans and Directives are.
5. Failing to consider your pets or online social media prescence.
6. Not seeking professional legal advice, and much more…..