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Planning ahead: why you should and how to start

Who would make decisions for you about your finances, medical care and personal wishes if you couldn’t speak for yourself? Would they be clear about what you want?

This week marks Planning Ahead Week (7-13 September 2020). It is all about safeguarding your rights and taking control of your future so you can rest assured your choices are known and will be acted upon if you are unable to express them yourself.

2020 has taught us that life and the world we live in is unpredictable and our own health could change in a moment. It is now more important than ever to talk about the future and start planning ahead.

Here are some reasons why planning ahead is crucial and why you should start today.

To provide peace of mind


So often it can be difficult to talk openly about the uncertainties of the future. However, during these challenging times of COVID-19, documenting your wishes is more important than ever. If you had a sudden accident, became ill or developed a condition that may affect your memory and decision making ability who would speak for you? It is important to have these conversations with your family or trusted friends early, before there is a health crisis or a change of circumstances. That way, your important wishes can be clearly expressed and documented in consultation with others without being clouded by emotions.

When your future wishes are known in advance, your family can act in your best interest. This will help reduce family stress and conflict during a time of crisis. In a time of grief and stress, it could be very difficult for your family to second guess your wishes if they aren’t known. Planning ahead, therefore, is a great tool to help relieve the stress from your loved ones and bring peace of mind knowing everything has been taken care of.

To ensure your wishes are honoured

Planning your future and documenting your wishes is a great way to safeguard your rights. You can rest assured that decisions made for you in the future are consistent with your wishes, values and preferences.

The best way to get started is ensure you have an Advance Care Directive, which sets out your wishes around lifestyle, health and end of life decisions. It can involve appointing a substitute decision maker when you are unable to express your wishes. When it comes to special conditions like dementia, it is essential to document your wishes in a legally binding way before you lose the ability to make independent decisions due to loss of decision making capacity.

Do your own research


Now more than ever, it is important for you to plan ahead. So what exactly do you need?

An Advance Care Directive sets out your wishes around lifestyle, health and end of life decisions and involves appointing a substitute decision maker. An Enduring Power of Attorney also involves appointing a substitute decision maker (attorney) – often a family member or trusted person – to manage financial affairs if someone can no longer do it by themselves.

You can learn more by doing some research and learning from online materials on the government website.

Get professional help


It could be that you want to have these important documents in place but you don’t know where to start. That’s why having professional help could relieve the stress and help navigate the process required to complete the paperwork more efficiently.

It is also important to consider the storage of these documents. Does your family have a copy of them? Where is the original going to be stored? It is worth considering a fire proof location.

ACH Group’s Planning Ahead Advisory Products can assist. We bring together a team of health professionals to help you understand and set up your Advance Care Directive and Enduring Power of Attorney in your own home or a place of your choosing.

The team advises on resources, suggests family discussions, helps prepare paperwork ready for sign-off and explains the role of JPs who witness and certify forms ready for distribution.

A health professional, rather than a lawyer, could be a better choice to guide you and your family through these very sensitive conversations, including end of life matters, and help you to get your wording correct so that it leaves no element of doubt if difficult decisions are required to be made. Speak with us today 1300 22 44 77.