Putting your affairs in order if you have advanced cancer
Sorting through some of your important documents and thinking about who will receive your possessions after you die can be upsetting.
Putting your affairs in order can spare family or friends painful decisions and even financial difficulties that could happen if you don’t make your wishes clear. Putting your affairs in order may also clear your mind of lots of worries, leaving you free to concentrate on the present.
Things you can do to put your affairs in order
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There are things you can do to put your affairs in order:
Make a will (or update your will if you have already made one).
If you have children under 18, discuss arrangements for their future with your partner, and appoint guardians, in the event that you both die.
List where you keep important documents (for example, the title deeds of your house) and details of such things as your bank account or insurance premiums.
List the people who should be told when you die (for example, anyone who has been named as executor of your will, your employer, your solicitor, if you have one).
Some people like to make plans for their own funeral, or discuss whether they would prefer cremation or burial.
There may also be some everyday tasks that you have always done. You should note these down, so that there is some record of, for example, where you got the car serviced, how to turn the central heating boiler on or how to use the washing machine.
Making a will ensures that you have control over what happens to your property. It makes sure your loved ones and people or issues you care about are looked after, and that your wishes are carried out. If you die without making a will, the state decides who gets your possessions, and they may not be shared out in the way you wish.
You may find making a will a painful and upsetting thing to do. However, you may also gain a sense of satisfaction and relief at sorting out your affairs and knowing you’re safeguarding the future of your family and friends.
Making a will is not always as difficult or expensive as you might think, but it is a legal document and should be properly prepared. It’s advisable to go to a solicitor to make a will. A solicitor will know the precise wording to use to make your wishes clear and ensure they are carried out exactly as you want. If you don’t use a solicitor, your will might not be clear, which may cause delays and unnecessary legal expenses later on.
You can find a solicitor by asking someone you know for a recommendation, or by looking in the phone book. The Law Society’s website has a ‘find a solicitor’ search facility, as well as helpful information about making a will. It’s a good idea to call a few solicitors and get quotes before deciding which one is best for you. Solicitors will sometimes make home or hospital visits.
If you’ve already made a will, you can update or change it quite easily by adding a codicil. This is an extra instruction to your will that can be added at any stage, and alters it in any way you want. It helps to prepare a list of the changes you want and then go to your solicitor, who can easily draw up the codicil for you.
We have more information about making a will.
A Power of Attorney gives someone you trust the right to make decisions about your financial, legal or health affairs if you become unable to do so.
Some types of Power of Attorney allow the person to make decisions about your care and treatment. Other types allow the person to make decisions about your property or financial affairs.
We have more information about a Lasting Power of Attorney in England and Wales.
The laws covering Power of Attorney are different across the UK. A legal adviser, or organisations such as Citizens Bureau can give you more information about how the laws apply where you live.
You can also get more information from the following organisations: