When I started thinking about my own end of life planning

November 14, 2020
Pen on Paper with Purple Flowers
end of life planning
anticipate life
supporting others
Bernadette Fulton

I would like to share with you how I first started thinking about my own end of life planning. Unfortunately, it was the result of a very sad event.

A sudden loss

Many years ago one of my younger sisters died suddenly, without any warning at all. The cause of her death was a brain aneurysm. One doctor described it to me as a ‘ticking time bomb waiting to go off at any minute’.

It is impossible to predict or avoid this type of medical catastrophe. My sister was only 37. She was a single working woman who was busy and active. She had no known medical problems.

Her unexpected death was a terrible shock to all our family. What made it more difficult was that we did not have a chance to say goodbye. Or to resolve any of the usual loose ends of family life.

What did we need to do?

Well first we had to arrange a funeral for my sister. As she had not left any funeral wishes  we could only hope that we had planned it as she would have wanted.

The next task was to sort out her estate and personal affairs. Unfortunately, my sister had not left a will.  Or if she had, we could not locate one. None of the family recalled her ever mentioning a will or any other end of life plan.

At the time of her death, my sister seemed like a normal, healthy woman in her 30’s. So I could understand why she hadn’t given much thought about dying or end of life planning. Or to how her affairs would be managed when that happened.

It turned out that the lack of a will created a lot of problems when it came to dealing with her estate. My sister owned an apartment and a car, she had bank accounts, superannuation, and employee allocated shares in the company she worked for.

She also had a budgerigar at her home.  Our parents decided to ‘adopt’ it which was a lovely gesture but my sister’s pet bird became a sad reminder of their loss.

Some problems we faced

Dealing with my sister’s estate became a complicated and time-consuming exercise. Fortunately in Australia we have clear laws dealing with intestacy (when the deceased has not left a will) so we were eventually able to finalise everything. But the process would have been so much faster and less stressful had my sister left a will.

The biggest problem though was dealing with the employer company shares my sister had owned. They were not of significant value but the company was based overseas, in the U.S. As a result, without a will or proof of my sister’s intentions it took several years and a lot of expensive legal documentation back and forth to sort it out.

The importance of end of life planning

What I learnt from this experience was the importance of getting my own affairs in order. If you do nothing else about your end of life planning, at least make sure you have a current will, no matter how short or simple. Make sure it can be easily located when needed. Because we never know when that ‘need’ is going to arise.

Anticipate Life’s app is designed to help you with all aspects of end of life planning. These range from details such as where your will is located to other important information and personal wishes that can be kept updated and all stored in one place.

I know that the personal information I have stored in my Anticipate Life account will greatly assist my loved ones when the time comes. It also gives me peace of mind knowing that they will not be faced with many of the difficulties which arose in my sister’s case.