Sorting out practical and financial affairs
If you are nearing the end of your life, you may have practical and financial affairs you want to sort out.
You may want to make important choices about your care and treatment in the later stages of your illness. Usually, you can talk about this with the doctors and nurses looking after you. However, there may come a time when you cannot make decisions or communicate easily for yourself.
There are different ways you can plan ahead in case your health changes and you are unable to tell other people what you want to happen.
This is sometimes called advance care planning and includes:
- your wishes for your care
- advance decisions to refuse treatment
- power of attorney.
Everything you leave when you die is called your estate. This is made up of everything you own, minus everything you owe. This includes money, property and belongings. It also includes your share of anything you own jointly with someone else.
Anything you owe is taken off the value of your estate. This includes any unpaid debts.
We have more information about dealing with debts and where to get support.
There may come a time when making financial decisions becomes difficult. For example, it may be difficult if you lose mental capacity.
Power of attorney gives one or more persons the power to manage your finances if you are unable to. Setting this up before you become unable to make decisions for yourself will give you more control over what happens in the future. We have more information about setting up a power of attorney.
There are other ways someone you trust can help if you are not able to manage your financial affairs yourself. Even if you can make your own financial decisions, it may help if someone you trust manages the practical things for you.
For example, the effects of cancer or its treatment might make it harder to get out of the house. If this happens, it might be hard to do things like go to the bank or manage state benefits. Getting help from someone you trust could make things easier.
You could set up:
- a joint bank account
- a third-party mandate
Whichever option you choose, you should ask someone you trust completely. You should also make sure they are happy to do it. If you are not sure about what might be best for your situation, our financial guides can help. You can call them free on 0808 808 00 00.
Banking and benefits
There are different ways that you can arrange for someone to manage your banking or benefits for you.
Setting up a joint bank account
You can arrange for someone you trust to be able to take money out of your account and make payments for you. You can do this by setting up a joint bank account. This means the following:
- You change an account you have already so that it is held jointly with someone else.
- You and the other person will both be responsible for any overdraft on the account. An overdraft is any money you take out of your bank account after your balance reaches zero. You may already have an agreed overdraft amount with your bank.
The other person will automatically inherit any money in the joint account if you die. They will also take full responsibility for the overdraft if the account is overdrawn when you die.
The law is different in Scotland, where any money that you put into a joint account still belongs to you when you die. However, it must be proved that the money was put into the account by you. If this is the case, that money becomes part of your estate.
Setting up a third-party mandate
You can arrange for someone you trust to take out money, write cheques and make other transactions in your name. The bank account will still be yours. It does not become a joint account. This arrangement is called a third-party mandate. This means the following:
- Most banks ask you to fill out a form to apply for a third-party mandate. They do not always approve mandates.
- The mandate should stop working immediately if you lose your mental capacity. This means becoming unable to make a decision for yourself. It should also stop if you die.
- The bank will not know about any change in your condition. This means the person you nominate in the third-party mandate must tell them as soon as possible if your condition changes.
Arranging for someone to collect your state benefits
You can organise for someone you trust to collect your state benefits for you. This means the following:
- If your benefits are paid into a bank or building society account, third-part mandate will let someone else collect them for you.
- If your benefits are paid through a Post Office card account, you can ask your local Post Office about arranging for someone else to collect them.
- If you receive benefits another way, speak to the office that deals with your payments. This might be Jobcentre Plus in England, Wales or Scotland, or your local Jobs and Benefits office in Northern Ireland.
Arranging for someone to manage your state benefits
You can arrange for someone you trust to manage your state benefit claims for you. This person is called an appointee. This means the following:
- Your appointee can deal with the benefits office for you.
- Your appointee is responsible for making sure your details are correct.
- If you are paid too much because your details were wrong, your appointee could also be responsible for dealing with this.
For more information about the role and responsibilities of an appointee, visit gov.uk