At some stage during your illness decisions not related to your health care may need to be made on your behalf. These decisions may have to do with finances, legal matters or lifestyle (eg. where you will live).

Again you can consider appointing the equivalent of a general power of attorney to oversee your legal and financial matters or separate powers of attorney to look after different matters. The roles and terminology can differ from state to state.

Q&A

Q: Is it strange to want to plan your own funeral?

A: For many people whose illness is considered terminal, this is a comforting part of preparing to die. You can be as general or as detailed as you like – even down to the music, readings and epitaph. You can put your instructions in your will, write notes for your family or lodge a formal plan with a funeral company (often with advanced payment).

What may help

Get expert advice

The Justice Department websites for each state often have good information on the different types of guardianship and powers of attorney. You can also try looking up the Public Trustee in each state or territory which can also help you make a will.

You may feel more comfortable letting a solicitor handle it all for you. They should be able to talk you through the planning decisions and draw up the papers.

Clear the obstacles

You will want your family and those looking after your affairs to strike as little red tape as possible. It may be wise, to transfer a joint bank account into your partner’s name to stop the account being frozen if you die. Your accountant or solicitor, or even a palliative care social worker may talk this through with you.

Life, Hope & Reality was developed and written by Afaf Girgis, Claire Johnson, and Sylvie Lambert with funding from the NHMRC and Cancer Council NSW.

Last updated 30 August 2015