Legal Planning

Legal and End of Life Planning

Knowing they are nearing the end-of-life often motivates people to put their affairs in order and ensure their wishes known about certain things. Having financial interests tidied up and appropriate legal documentation in place can help to reduce the stress on  loved ones after somebody dies. The more unresolved matters and unanswered questions, the harder it will be for you and your family, at a time when you will also be grieving. Helping your loved one make these plans can be a good way of reducing your own fear and anxiety about their death. It may also help to reassure you and your loved one that any important legal issues are understood and clarified between you at an early stage.

Discuss practical matters ahead of time

Family/whānau often feel confused, exhausted and numb when their loved one dies, so taking care of business affairs beforehand can ensure that these things are sorted well before time and alleviate stress and anxiety at what is usually a very difficult time. Discussing “what do you want to happen when…” scenarios opens the conversation for important discussion around difficult topics. If these issues are discussed early, requests are known and can be supported throughout the journey.

It may include your loved one writing down what they want to happen with their medical care and other matters, choosing an enduring power of attorney to speak and act for them, where their will is held, and detailing what they want for their farewell or memorial service. There are many other practical things a family needs to know after somebody dies, which can all be captured in a Go With Grace Plan.

Recording and sharing final wishes

When somebody dies, unanswered questions and missing information can make life so much harder for families and loved ones that it needs to be. The Go With Grace Planning Tool has been thoughtfully designed to capture key information to help families after the loss of a loved one, so they can honour their loved one’s wishes and they can finalise their estate.

With sections such as About Me, Health, Life Admin, Digital, My Farewell and Personal Wishes, working through the tool will prompt you, or your loved one, to think about end-of-life plans and important things family and friends should know when the time comes. You can assist your loved one by completing it with them, on their behalf. This can be done over time – your loved one’s plan will be saved and you can continue to come back to it as you have the time and energy. When you are ready, this plan can be shared with key people such as children, close family, your lawyer and your doctor.

Help your loved ones get their affairs in order

Helping your loved one get their affairs in order ahead of time may help to relieve some of the stress and uncertainty they will be feeling about nearing the end of their life and leaving their loved ones behind. Knowing their wishes are known and that they have legal structures in place for when they can no longer make decisions themselves, can give people genuine peace of mind. Here are some things they may need help with organising:

It can be helpful to start with just one thing, so your loved one doesn’t feel overwhelmed, but also remember that some matters, like finalising a will and setting up powers of attorney can take time, and money. Once these documents are completed and decisions are made, it is important that this information is stored somewhere that is known to close family so it can easily be accessed after your loved one dies.

Access to bank accounts

Once a person dies, any bank accounts in their sole name will be frozen, until the lawyers acting for your loved one’s estates can confirm how any funds in such accounts will be managed or distributed. Joint accounts are not usually frozen because they are in two or more people’s names.

As part of end-of-life planning, your loved one may want to set up a savings account in their spouse or partner’s name to ensure there will still be money available when they die, until their will and estate are resolved.

Helping your loved one make their final plans can be helpful in reducing your own fears and anxiety.