So, what is End of Life Planning?
End of Life Planning is about deciding what is important to you at the end of your life. The process of planning ensures you make the arrangements that best accommodates what you would want to happen if you become:
- permanently incapacitated due to injury or illness, or
- upon your death.
Common End of Life Planning excuses
People use a range of excuses to avoid making any End of life plans for themselves.
Starting End of Life Planning can be daunting and like most people – they will use different excuses to avoid doing it.
In this article, we will explore the 9 common excuses people use to avoid End of Life Planning and why these excuses are irrational and will ultimately cause legal, financial and emotional turmoil and distress for the loved ones that are leaving behind.
Although there is a 100% certainty that you will die, just the exact time of death is usually never certain. So why do you not plan?
What excuse do you use to avoid your End of Life planning?
The sad reality is that most people do not know what End of Life planning involves and certainly avoid planning for their End of Life.
Though you may have heard that End of Life Planning is a good idea and you know it’s logical to do, most people still avoid doing it and use various excuses.
The following 9 excuses are the ones most people use to justify either why they have not started, or why they shouldn’t consider End of Life Planning.
- Not everyone plans anyway
- Don’t have time to plan
- I don’t like to think about death or End of Life things
- My end of life care; it’s too much to think about
- Irrational fears that thinking about death will hasten it
- Concern about the confidentially of End of Life Plans
- Legal and financial advice needed for End of Life Planning is too expensive
- Fear of death and dying Only old people need to worry about having End of Life Plans
“No End of Life Plan equates to only
vague hopes and wishes“
Is Estate Planning the same as End of Life Planning?
No. Estate Planning is the process of preparing for the transference of your property and assets to someone else after your death through legal means using Wills and Trusts. It can include nominating someone to manage your assets or trusts after your death.
Estate Planning may cover and include directions for any of the following you may own:
- property or real estate
- cars or boats
- money in bank accounts
- life insurance
- your personal belongs
This may also include:
- setting up binding death benefit nominations to stipulate who would receive your remaining superannuation balance
- establishing an Enduring Power of Attorney so they can make financial decisions on your behalf
- setting up and Enduring Power of Guardianship so a person can make personal and lifestyle decisions on your behalf if you are unable to
- organising your financial affairs so your spouse and family would know how to access any funeral benefits and bank accounts.
Remember, if you die without making a valid Will your assets will be divided among relatives according to a pre-determined formula according to the law and if you have no relatives, your estate will go to the government. Learn what you need to know and the documents you need to organise before your death so your family would know what to do in the event of your death.
“Estate Planning is only a part of
any good End of Life Plan”.
What are End of Life Plans?
Good End of Life Plans should include the following important areas of:
- appointing a person to be your medical treatment decision maker if you cannot make your own decisions
- recording your wishes using a document commonly known as an Advance Care Directive. This document outlines the type of medical preferences, the level of health care and quality of life you would want if you become incapacitated by illness or a medical condition.
- writing your Life Story also known as an Ethical Will or Legacy Letter for the loved ones you will be leaving behind
- the type of Palliative and End of Life Care treatment preferences you would want so your family and loved ones would be aware if a life-threatening illness or event occurred in the future and you could not make your own decisions they would know what you would want to happen
When making your End of Life Plans you need to focus and think about what is important to you and what you would want to happen when you are not able to have a say.
The essential elements of making your End of Life Plans usually involve having an End of Life Conversation with family members, professional advisors like doctors and caregivers so your concerns and objections can be addressed.
Having an End of Life Plan will make it easier for your loved ones and family to ensure your wishes are considered when organising your final care and when making any funeral arrangements.
Your prior planning will provide solace and direction for the family in knowing they are making decisions that you would have wanted to be made and your life celebrated the way you would have wanted.
Understanding End of Life Planning is so important and overlooked by many as not needed. So, let’s debunk some of the most common excuses people make for not putting their affairs in order:
The 9 most used excuses people use to avoid End of Life Planning
1. Not everyone plans
Unfortunately, this is true, most people haven’t thought about starting their Estate Planning let alone their End of Life Planning. Remember, just because people don’t plan doesn’t mean you shouldn’t or make the false assumption it isn’t important.
Everyone ought to have an Estate Plan suited to their circumstances and stage of life. It needs to be regularly reviewed and updated.
2. Don’t have time to plan
How much time you have is rarely something you can control. Death is inescapable and can occur at any time. If you have doubts just read your social media feeds or a newspaper to appreciate how many people die daily.
Not only from various illnesses but due to car accidents, killed by some rare workplace accident, returning from a night out due to being “king hit” or a victim of a terrorist attack. Those people certainly didn’t think life would end so soon!
Did you know about 452 people die in Australia every day? (1)
3. I don’t like to think about death or End of Life things
Nobody starts End-of-Life Planning because they want to. Many find it a confronting task, it should be undertaken out of love and consideration to make sure life is not made any more difficult than it already would be for those loved ones left behind.
Your End of Life Care Plan shouldn’t be left until the end. Talk to your family today!
4. My End of Life Care: Its’ too overwhelming to think about
The danger of not having your wishes communicated to your loved ones, or having your affairs in order, may come at a very high price. With people making treatment options on your behalf that don’t know or understand what you would want you may be subjected to medical interventions that reduce your quality of life dramatically.
Around 90% of people say talking with a loved one about
End of Life Care is important, but only 27% actually do it. (2)
You may never have the opportunity to say your goodbyes as you would have liked to or expressed how you would like to be remembered by your children, grandchildren or friends. Have you considered the benefits of writing or recording an Ethical Will or Legacy Letter for those just in case situations?
5. Having irrational fears about death
Irrational fears about death and dying shouldn’t be an excuse not to have an End of Life Plan. As with all fears, they are feelings induced by a perceived danger or threat from a situation, that is out of proportion to the potential reality of the danger or the likelihood of the event occurring. Planning and talking about your End of Life Plan will not hasten your demise nor will it stop the unpredictable from occurring.
6. Concern about the confidentiality of End of Life Plans
You can control and limit the amount and type of information you wish to share with specific professionals on a need to know basis. Remember though, you need to make sure that when seeking advice from different professionals such as solicitors and financial planners you need to give them enough information so they can accurately advise you.
Most professionals charge a fee for their services and do not have a financial interest in your estate so they will focus solely on your requirements.
7. Legal advice for the End of Life Planning is too expensive
It will be far more expensive financially, legally and emotionally for you and your loved ones to make sure your wishes are carried out if you don’t have the correct legal advice. Besides, you may give up the right to direct your affairs as you would have wanted if you are incapacitated due to injury or suffer from dementia.
8. Fear of dying and death
Conversations about death are becoming increasingly taboo or seem to be distasteful. Dying has become more institutionalised over the last several decades. The sooner you communicate your wishes for your own End of Life Plan, the sooner you will be better prepared, as will your loved ones in knowing what your wishes are when the inevitable occurs.
If you wish to die at home and not in a hospital, you will need to ensure your wishes are communicated in your Advance Care Plan or Advance Health / Care Directive.
9. Only old people need to worry about End of Life Plans
Sadly, incapacity and death can strike you down at any stage of your life! Even young and healthy people can have accidents or sudden health emergencies. If you want your wishes to be known and followed in the event of your incapacity and/or death, you must have a thorough End of Life Plan in place to provide you with the peace of mind that your wishes to be known.
The time of death is one of the great unknowns. You need to be aware that 34% of deaths in Australia in 2017 were amongst people aged below 75 years of age. (4) So, you’re never too young to ignore the possibility that death can occur at any time!
“Death is not a mistake….. It is a normal part of life“
The 5 benefits of overcoming the 9 common excuses for avoiding End of Life Planning
You need to consider and understand the importance of End of Life Planning. Ignorance of this will not lessen the impact that a lack of an End of Life Plan will have on your loved ones and family who will be left behind after your death.
Would you wish to inflict upon them more stress and hardship because of your excuses?
The 5 benefits of overcoming the 9 common excuses for not making your End of Life Plan are:
Every day that passes without you getting your affairs in order through your End of Life Planning increases the probability that you will not have them done when the need arises. Failure to do so will often mean additional stress and distress for your surviving loved ones.
B. Safeguard Your Rights to Make Your Own Decisions
Having decisions made from your point of view and in line with your values and beliefs — not someone else’s. You will have expressed your wishes on how decisions need to be made for you if you can no longer speak for yourself.
This takes thought, commitment and determination to arrange, yet it will be the most loving and considerate thing you can do. It may certainly prevent the heartache, emotional turmoil, bitterness, indecisiveness and arguments that can otherwise occur between your remaining family members if they are uncertain of your wishes. This will happen if you have never had the necessary End of Life Conversations with them to express your wishes.
More than 50% of people lost someone
without ever discussing End of Life wishes. (2)
C. Demonstrating Your Love for Those You love
The more comprehensive your End of Life and Estate Planning is, the less your family will have to do or worry about. Good thorough preparation eliminates the potential for family disputes over what to do about organising your final farewell and the distribution of your assets.
This prior preparation will give you peace of mind now when you will need it the most as you have told your loved ones your wishes and given both you and them a chance to move on.
Approximately 63% of people that had an End of Life Conversation
said they felt better knowing they were honouring the wishes
of their loved ones, while 39% knew their loved one was able to
die just the way they wanted. (2)
D. Reduce the financial burden
Good Estate Planning will minimise the costs and legal fees that may otherwise be incurred due to no or poor planning.
E. Reduce your stress, fear, shame and sense of guilt
By not making the excuses and avoiding doing your End of Life Planning you will ultimately save yourself the emotional impact of your failure to act and feel secure in the knowledge and satisfaction of having put all of your affairs in order.
The better you can accept your mortality, the more fully you will be prepared for the end
and be able to embrace and enjoy the life you have now.
THE END OF LIFE
Stop using excuses and start on your End of Life Plan TODAY as you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.
There should be no excuse to start planning at any age as:
– death will strike according to its own timetable.
– from the information in this article, there really should be no excuses for
not starting your End of Life Plan.
Have you avoided your End- of -Life Planning?
- Ever used any of these excuses to justify your fear of planning?
- What steps did you take to face this challenge?
Share your experiences in how you coped in the comments section below.
(1) 3302.0 – Deaths, Australia, 2018 – Australian Bureau of Statistics web site accessed 30th March 2020.
(2) Institute for Healthcare Improvements (IHI). The Conversation Project National Survey – “Conversation Disconnect”. IHI, Sept 2013. Web site accessed 29th March 2020.
(3) Relationships Australia, (2016), Research On-line Survey, May 2016: End of Life Planning, web site accessed 29th March 2020.
(4) Australian Government – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) – Deaths in Australia. 17 July 2019. Web site accessed 30th March 2020.
(5) Victoria State Government – Better Health channel – Making Plans And Decisions For The End Of Your Life. March 2018. Web site accessed 29th March 2020.
Frequently Asked Questions
What excuses do people use to avoid End of Life Planning?
Many people use at least one of the following 9 excuses to justify why they have not started, or why they haven’t considered End of Life Planning even though death is an inevitable reality.
1. Not everyone plans
2. Don’t have time to plan
3. I don’t like to think about death or End of Life things
4. My End of Life Care; it’s too much to think about
5. Irrational fears that thinking about death will hasten it
6. Concern about the confidentially of End of Life Plans
7. Only old people need to worry about having End of Life Plans
8. Fear of dying and death
9. Legal and financial advice needed for End of Life Planning is too expensive
What are the benefits of making an End of Life Plan?
There are 5 benefits in making your End of Life Plans which include:
1. Reduce the financial burden
2. Demonstrating your love for those you love
3. Reduce your stress, fear, shame and sense of guilt
4. Safeguard your rights to make your own decisions
5. Dealing with the reality that death is an unavoidable and unpredictable event
What is the difference between End of Life and Estate Planning?
End of Life Planning is a holistic approach to preparing for death whilst Estate Planning is just one part of the overall End of Life Plan. Estate planning primarily focuses upon the distribution of your property and assets to the people you wish to inherit them after your death.
When should you start doing End of Life Planning?
People of any age who wish to have a say and make the decision about what type of medical intervention they will want to be aligned with their values if they require medical intervention for a life-threatening injury or illness. Including ensuring that their wishes are known in relation to their End of Life Care including funeral and memorial services.