Don’t postpone conversations about end of life planning. Act now.

May 5, 2021
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Bernadette Fulton

Have the hard conversations before it’s too late

Don’t postpone conversations about end of life planning. You may not have as much time up your sleeve as you think. The time to start talking is now.

We all put off thinking about tough subjects like death and end of life planning. Because  we are human. And because none of us feels comfortable thinking about our own mortality or that of our loved ones.

But we have learnt that the timing of many events in our lives is beyond our control. This is particularly so when it comes to matters such as illness, incapacity and death.

We know we cannot avoid facing up to these things indefinitely.  So, it seems sensible then, that the best way to face them, is to do our planning as early and as thoroughly as possible. And to have conversations with our loved ones and advise them to do the same.

But raising these topics with those we love can be difficult. Especially if they are already facing challenges related to ageing and declining health. How do I bring it up? How will they react? What if these conversations upset them? It can all end up feeling too difficult so we just avoid the subject entirely.

How to broach those tough subjects

The best way to start conversations about end of life planning, is to explain that you want to know what they want. You want to be sure that you know their wishes and preferences. So when the time comes, you can follow the guidelines they have set out.

If you frame it this way, most people will appreciate that it makes sense to discuss these things ahead of time.  They will understand the importance of making sure those left behind know where to find important documents and information. This could include Wills, title deeds, insurance policies, and details of people to contact.

It is also reassuring if you know their wishes on matters such as funeral instructions. They will understand that, if all their information is easily accessible, it will help ease the difficult emotions of those they leave behind. It could avoid unnecessary disputes between family members, over what may seem trivial now.

Anticipate Life can help

Anticipate Life is a web-based application that allows the easy and completely secure storage of  important personal life information. It can also provide you with resources designed to help you initiate those difficult conversations about end of life planning.

The first purpose-built digital locker of its kind in the world, Anticipate Life took two years to develop. Designed by WA couple, Leanne Russell and Paul Kamarudin, to help change our approach to end-of-life planning.  

“After witnessing first-hand the confusion, family conflict and lengthy red tape that can occur when a loved one dies without leaving clear instructions and information, we decided there had to be a better way,” Leanne said.

After attending the funeral of a relative, the couple discussed their own end-of-life plans and the idea for Anticipate Life was born.

“The more we discussed, the more we realised it wasn’t just our funerals that needed pre-planning, but all those aspects of our lives not listed in our Will; those everyday aspects that would take time and a certain amount of sleuthing on our family’s part to sort out after our death,” Leanne said.

“Dying and the practicalities of what happens when we are no longer here is something people are reticent to talk about. We saw an opportunity to give people the means to not only organise their life-after-death admin, but to also start those important conversations,” Leanne said.

“When Paul’s mum passed, two brothers didn’t talk for 18 months because they couldn’t agree on what her favourite poem was for her funeral. The conflict could so easily have been avoided.”

Communicating wishes with family

The 2018 national research project Beyond Taboos? revealed that just 36% of Australians are discussing death and dying with their family.

Paul says knowing they are following their loved one’s wishes can be a real comfort for those left behind. “We hear people say the subject is too uncomfortable, too confronting, they’re not prepared or that they don’t want to traumatise their loved ones,” he said.

“Communicating end-of-life and after-death wishes is not only respectful, but it also ultimately relieves stress and conflict at what is already a difficult time.”

Leanne and Paul worked with Queensland based lawyers Bernadette and Max Fulton to develop Anticipate Life.

“Sadly, we have seen many families torn apart after a death because the Will doesn’t typically provide total clarity about the deceased’s visions for their funeral, detailed financial distribution instructions or who is to inherit special or valuable items” Bernadette said. “Anticipate Life is intended to supplement a Will, not replace it. It allows people to be very clear and detailed in their wishes, and to easily keep their wishes updated.”

Want more information?

You can find out more by visiting Anticipate Life. Subscribe for an annual membership today and receive a 20% discount.