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Getting your affairs in order

Organising your finances, health directives, and superannuation plans is a good idea no matter what stage you’re at.

This section provides comprehensive information about various legal, health, and financial documents.

What is Advance Care Planning?

Is an important process to discuss a person’s wishes for end-of-life healthcare with:

  • those close to them and/or
  • their healthcare team, in the case of them being too unwell or unable to speak for themselves.

The process of Advance Care Planning can begin at any time. Talking with close family/friends and/or the healthcare team about your wishes is a good way to start. Early discussions gives you time to learn about your choices and think about what you might want.

Although talking about your wishes is important, people should write them down using an

  • Advance Health Directive, or
  • Statement of Choices Form

Another important part is giving someone you trust the legal right to make decisions about your

  • financial,
  • lifestyle and
  • healthcare if you’re unable to do so.

A substitute decision maker can be appointed for healthcare or financial matters, or both. Legislation and documents may vary from state to state. If you appoint someone, it’s important you talk to them about your wishes so they can speak for you in the event you’re unable to.

Watch this short video:

Important considerations

Why should people do Advance Care Planning?

Advance Care Planning gives people more control over their healthcare. It’s important to have open and honest conversations about:

  • the way you wish to live
  • the care you actually want
  • your desired quality of life
  • end of life care (even if treatment is going well)

It is especially important for people with serious illnesses.

These conversations help health professionals and families understand a person’s:

  • beliefs
  • values and preferences

This allows healthcare professionals and families to plan and help you make decisions. This is particularly important for those unable to make decisions for themselves.

An Advance Care Plan only comes into effect in the event a person becomes so unwell they lose the ability to make or communicate decisions.

Practical advice for Advance Care Planning
  • Advance Care Planning documents apply across all healthcare settings (i.e. hospital, GP, community health centres).
  • Give copies to family, your general practitioner and treatment team at the hospital.
  • The plan is generally called an advance care directive.
  • Your substitute decision maker will ensure your preferences are respected
More information

You can find more information here:

Read this booklet:


Legal matters

The best time to get your affairs in order is when you are in good health. Here are some of the most common legal documents you should have and where to get help.

Considerations for legal documents

Creating advance care planning documents

Each state has different names and processes. Before documenting your plan, it’s important to have a good understanding of what is required in your state.

See the requirements for different states and territories.

Wills

If you die without leaving a valid Will, you may leave what is known as “intestacy”. Although you may feel your affairs are very simple and your immediate family will receive your assets, this is not always true.

The consequences of dying intestate can be serious for your heirs:

  • your estate and beneficiaries will incur greater than normal costs
  • they may pay some unnecessary tax
  • your estate may be distributed to unintended beneficiaries
  • possible prolonged and expensive court proceedings between beneficiaries
  • there could be significant delays in the final distribution of your estate
  • distribution of your estate could be determined by a formula set down in legislation
  • you have no control over who distributes your assets as this will be handled by the state

If you already have a Will you need to consider if it is still current. Some questions to consider include:

  • Have you married or divorced since your Will was established?
  • Is your choice of executor still appropriate?
  • Do you want to include any specific gifts?
  • Have you appointed a guardian for dependent children?
  • Is your Will tax effective?
  • Do you have beneficiaries with special needs, such as disabilities?

You can utilise a solicitor or the public trustee to help you. There are also online options:

Superannuation beneficiaries

You have the right to nominate the beneficiaries of your superannuation account. If you do not do so, then the balance will usually be transferred to your estate. This may not be the most tax effective option. You should lodge a ‘Binding Death Nomination’ form with your fund every 3 years. Otherwise, the trustees of a superannuation fund are not bound by your nomination of beneficiaries in your will. If in doubt seek advice from your financial or legal adviser.

Getting help

There are more than 160 community legal services, spread across all states and territories, that provide mostly free advice and legal services to their communities. These are independent non-profit organisations.

Search for a service near you.


Take a financial stocktake

You may lose or suffer a reduced income – the first step should be to take a quick ‘financial stocktake’.

Assess what income you can expect. What financial resources do you have available?

Possibilities may include:

  • Are you or your partner able to work part-time?
  • Do you have sick leave or long service leave?
  • Do you have Income Protection or Trauma Insurance, either as a stand alone policy or part of a life policy? Check if your superannuation provides this type of cover.
  • Do you have money in the bank (and is it in a high-interest account?).
  • Do you have a line of credit against your mortgage which can be drawn against?
  • Can any investments be accessed? You may not need to dispose of them immediately but just assessing your position is helpful.

Check on important expenses which need paying in the immediate future, including:

  • rent or mortgage payments
  • electricity, gas and phone accounts
  • school fees and other education expenses
  • car and other loan repayments
  • medical and other insurance policies – it is important not to let these lapse when health is a problem
  • day-to-day living costs, such as food.

What can you do?

  • avoid or defer all unnecessary expenses – pay when circumstances allow.
  • avoid making charges to credit cards, unless you can repay the full amount by the due date.
  • seek advice from a financial counsellor

Start a budget

  1. Use our budget planner – A planner will help you figure out your budget. You can also find ready-made planners online. Remember to select a timeframe for your budget – weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
  2. Write down your income – Remember; income can come from many sources not just your salary or wages. Include any government benefit payments.
  3. Write down your expenses – Writing down your expenses will identify what you are spending. Include the major expense categories.

Seek assistance

There are many government agencies and organisations that can help.

Further information is also available on our Financial Information page.


Useful contacts

This listing provides contact details of organisations who provide help to patients, carers and their families. The information is correct at time of printing but is subject to frequent changes and you should check the latest details.

Connect with the Leukaemia Foundation blood cancer support coordinators

We offer emotional support and assistance through our highly trained health professionals. Our emotional support services are available at no cost to anyone living with blood cancer, their family and friends.

Government

  • Money Smart for
    • Money management
    • Budget planner
    • Superannuation information
    • Information on credit, loans and debt
    • Helpful financial publications

Australian Bankers Association financial assistance

Financial Counselling

Early access to superannuation

Medicare assistance

Services Australia (Centrelink)

National Debt Helpline

Financial Information

Find out further options to assist with financial stress

More help

Find out how we can support you