Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Some Advice To Consider In Tidying Up Your Affairs

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Last Will and Testementt

Last Will and Testement

So!! You have cancer or a life threatening disease and your immediate response is most likely disbelief. Most people in this situation will go through disbelief or denial then to anger and to acceptance. At times these emotions keep looping around in your head but eventually you start to plan your trip down this unknown track.

Decisions about treatment, how to break the news to family and friends, doctors appointments and medical procedures. It can be easy to forget that your legal stuff should be sorted in the possibility that your cancer or life threatening illness becomes terminal. I would like to take you on a personal journey on how I prepared for the worst outcome for me.

Upon reflection I am still uncertain how I decided on a certain pathway. It may have been fate or possibly my inner sense of my impending diagnosis or whatever gods may be looking after me, or perhaps my wife’s serious car accident. In late 2007 I had been working away from home commuting between work and home when I decided to semi retire and return home.

I decided to cash in my superannuation as I had reached the age of sixty and I knew I could get part time work close to home. Because my superannuation would not be large enough to allow us to live in luxury I decided to cash it in pay off the mortgage and all other debts we had. Over the next four years I paid out the mortgage and all other debts, I purchased a new car, purchased building materials to continue the renovations I had begun at our house  and acquired our little sapphire claim out at the gemfields.

I also purchased a prepaid funeral for both my wife and myself. These funerals include all the details needed for a basic funeral service, in our case we chose cremation. Any personal stuff we thought we would like to note we have written out and included in our private papers. We have two personal fire proof boxes in which our essential papers are stored and a safe installed. The children and the Queensland Trustee know about this.

You have to remember that all that I have written above was prior to my diagnosis. My rational thinking at that time, was to consolidate all we had and have no debts. Also a car that should be serviceable for years into our retirement, A place we could escape to at the gemfields, materials to complete my renovations and our funerals paid for. I was happy to stay in part time work for as long as I was able. My superannuation money had been exhausted by this stage.

Ah!! The misplaced plans of mice and men (and perhaps Murphy) were at work when in March this year I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. The ADT treatment I began and it’s side effects added to the urinary symptoms I had, meant I could no longer work and have retired. My urologist reckons he can fix me and we have one shot with HDR brachytherapy and external beam radiation. I live in hope he is correct but my gut feeling tells me to not plan anything beyond four years from now.

After the shock and disbelief subsided and my medical treatment and various procedures began I began the process of consolidating our legal situation. Following on from the pre-purchased funerals I ensured that my wife and I had separate bank accounts. She has in her account what is left from our savings I have a minimal amount of funds in mine. This is because upon the death of one spouse any funds tied up in a joint account can be frozen until probate is settled. Our car is registered and insured in my wife’s name for the same reasons because it appears my time here on earth may be more limited than hers.

We have completed the updating of our wills with the Queensland Public Trustee which is free and we also sorted out powers of attorney for both of us. I have also created an advanced medical directive which stipulates my wishes for any medical treatment should I become incapable of making these decisions. This is a directive that everyone should consider regardless of their health position. Anyone could become unable to make these decisions due to an accident or sudden stroke etc. It basically states your wishes on how far you wish the medical fraternity to go in your resurrection attempts and your wishes to be an organ donor or not. This directive is a legal document that can relieve your family of having to make medical decisions on your behalf and will  prevent any guilt feelings they may experience if they had to make the medical decisions for you.

It comes to this

  1. So in summary: While everyone may not be in the position of pre-paying their funeral it may be of interest that the following can be done cheaply.

1) Update your will and advise family where it can be found.

2) Draw up a power of attorny this may cost approx $200 but it allows someone or several family members powers to make legal decisions on your behalf if you become incapable.

3) Ensure you and your partner have seperate bank accounts.

4) Consider drawing up an advanced medical directive.

5) My situation is simple and is as outlined in this post but other people may have more complicated. circumstances.

Thought must be given to other matters as they apply to you eg.

a) Other investments you may have, how you deal with them and where the legal documents are located.

b) Bank account details and passwords for bank accounts and computer programs may need to be documented and stored with your personal documents.

c) Any pets you may have should be documented and your wishes for their ongoing management may have to be listed and kept with your personal papers. 

This post is a reminder only, there may be a zillion other matters that apply to you that I have not listed. This post and summary is only a prod to remind you to consider those things that will need attention by you. If you document and manage these affairs in a timely fashion it will make things easier at the end of days for you and your family. This subject is a shocker but each of us needs to consider our options. Be kind to each other.


Further information.

Written by Lee

24 August 2012 at 12:00 am

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