Thinking about and planning for the end of life is something many of us would rather never do. Yet, doing so can help put your mind at rest – and allow you to get on with the important job of living. A good way to go about this is to set aside some time to think about your wishes – and to talk these through with your loved ones. Being clear about what you want in the future helps those who may be called upon to act on your behalf to do so with confidence. Remember, any plans made need to be reviewed frequently, especially if your circumstances change.
Here are some of the things to consider when putting end of life plans in place:
This will ensure your wishes regarding your estate (everything you own) are known after your death.
Check or appoint your Enduring Powers of Attorney
Make sure you have appointed trusted attorneys for welfare and financial matters.
Make or update your Advance Directives
This can help ensure that your wishes are known if you are not able to convey them yourself.
Many people like to have a say as to what happens after their death. Planning gives them confidence that others know about their wishes, and reassurance that they have done all they can to make it easier for grieving family/whānau and friends.
There are many things to consider. If you want a funeral, who will arrange it? Would you use a preferred funeral director or is something informal desired? You can plan it all yourself but this option requires more consideration, investigation (the internet is very useful for this topic) and planning. Even if you arrange for a funeral director to take your funeral, you also need to make your wishes known to those closest to you (writing this down is helpful). Have you any special requests? Do you want to be buried or cremated? Is there a charity you would like to ask people to donate to?
Lack of knowledge about cultural differences and requirements can also have unexpected outcomes for mourners. If this might be an issue, prepare them for the possibility. In Māori culture it is an honour for the deceased to return to their home marae, so extended whānau/family may arrive to discuss this with the bereaved. Other cultures will require a quick burial.
Some people choose not to have a funeral for a variety of reasons. If you choose not to have a funeral and have family/whānau and friends who might expect some sort of farewell, let them know. They may like to arrange something else by way of remembrance.
Most funeral companies provide helpful booklets on this and other bereavement issues, some of which are comprehensive and informative. Peace of mind is often a big factor in some people choosing to prepay their funeral. There have however been some allegations of poor practice in this regard, with the result that the government is investigating the need for more regulation of funeral services. We will keep you updated.
Currently a prepaid funeral can be with a funeral director or a trust company. Ask:
- How secure is my investment?
- What happens if the funeral company ceases operation?
- Can the fund move with me if I move to another part of the country?
- Are there any circumstances in which the estate would have to pay more?
If you are being assessed for a Residential Care Subsidy up to $10,000 for a prepaid funeral is exempt from the asset test.
Funeral insurance is different to a prepaid funeral. Consumer NZ have concerns about this option and believe they are a 'poor value' product, see: Consumer NZ
The information provided in this list of Questions and Answers (Q&A) is of a general nature. It is not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose. The Q&A is not an alternative to legal advice and does not replace any requirements under any relevant Act, Regulations, Code of Practice, Rule, Standards or Orders. While we have endeavoured to ensure this information is accurate and as useful as possible, we accept no responsibility, loss or liability resulting from the use of this information. We urge you to seek appropriate or professional advice on all issues.