End-of-life planning is an essential part of our lives, ensuring that our desires are honoured and our affairs are organised when the time comes. However, for individuals who lack close family or friends to depend on, this process can be intimidating and overwhelming.
Unfortunately, it's a common situation in later stages of life. Loved ones pass away, move, or simply fade from our lives, leaving us without a support network to rely on.
In Australia, there are specific channels and resources accessible to help people in this situation. The purpose of this blog is to offer guidance and assistance to those who are confronted with end-of-life planning without close family or friends for support.
Seek legal advice.
The best first step is to seek out legal advice for end-of-life planning. This is because it will protect your independence and guarantee that your wishes are honoured in important healthcare, financial, and asset distribution matters. Legal guidance assists in creating legally binding documents, appointing responsible individuals, and minimising the likelihood of disagreements. Ultimately, it provides reassurance and a reliable structure for managing their affairs, even in the absence of a conventional support system.
For a confidential discussion, you can call our affiliate law firm, Bare Law, on 1800 959 371. If they are unable to help, they will help point you in the right direction for the advice and support you need.
Explore public guardianship services.
When it comes to end-of-life (EOL) planning, public guardianship services are available for individuals who don't have family or close friends. In such situations, there may not be anyone to advocate for you or ensure that your wishes and interests are respected during this sensitive phase of life.
Public guardianship services act as an important safety net, providing protection and guidance for those who might otherwise be vulnerable to decisions that don't align with their preferences. These services can step in to make healthcare and financial decisions based on the person's values, ensuring that their EOL planning respects their autonomy and dignity.
Public guardianship bodies can also offer emotional support and assist individuals in accessing necessary resources and services, ultimately improving their overall well-being during EOL planning.
See below for Trustees and Guardian services across Australia:
- Office of the Public Guardian (OPG)
- Office of the Public Advocate (OPA)
- NSW Trustee and Guardian
- State Trustees of Victoria
- Public Trustee and Guardian ACT
- Public Trustee of South Australia
- Public Trustee of Tasmania
- Public Trustee of Western Australia
- Public Trustee of the Northern Territory
Consider an Advance Care Directive.
An Advance Care Directive (ACD) is a legal document that enables individuals to express their healthcare preferences and designate a surrogate decision-maker in the event that they are unable to make decisions for themselves.
If you lack immediate family or close friends to advocate on your behalf, this document will ensure your wishes are followed during your final days. It is best to seek guidance from a healthcare professional or legal advisor when crafting an ACD. You will want the document to accurately reflect your personal values and preferences regarding medical treatment and end-of-life care, and will require a certain process to become legally binding.
Explore community and support services.
Australia provides a wide range of community and support services to help individuals with their end-of-life planning. Notably, organisations like Palliative Care Australia play a crucial role in this process by offering comprehensive resources and assistance to those facing serious illness and end-of-life decisions.
Through their services, you can access a network of healthcare professionals, counsellors, and support groups, ensuring that you do not have to navigate this challenging journey alone.
These resources and professionals are committed to providing guidance, empathy, and a sense of community, creating a supportive environment that empowers individuals to make informed choices and find comfort during this significant life transition.
Build a support network.
Building a support network may be something you want to explore, especially if you don't have close family or friends to rely on. It's surprising how understanding and compassionate neighbours, colleagues, or acquaintances can be when they know you need support. Don't hesitate to share your situation with them and express your needs.
Research into your local community and see if there are any groups or social activities you can join, such as Men’s and Women’s Sheds, Bowls clubs, RSL’s or Veteran’s associations. Your local council should have a directory of community groups in your area. Facebook may also be a way to reach out to people in your local area with similar situations and interests.
Engaging with these groups not only expands your social circle but also allows you to form meaningful relationships with individuals who can offer emotional support and companionship.
Document your wishes clearly.
It is important to clearly and thoroughly document your wishes, regardless of the support network you have. This includes stating your preferences for medical treatment, organ donation, funeral arrangements, and the distribution of your assets. Make sure to keep these documents in a secure and easily accessible location, and inform your lawyer, healthcare providers, and trusted individuals about their existence and whereabouts.
Regularly review and update your documents to ensure consistency. This is particularly important if your wishes or circumstances change. For instance, if you have recently received a medical diagnosis, it is crucial to revisit your medical treatment preferences. In today's digital age, it is advisable to keep a secure digital copy of your documents. There are encrypted platforms and cloud services that can safely store personal and sensitive information, such as in the Bare Digital Vault.
When you are formalising your documents, particularly a Will, it is important to have witnesses. This adds an extra level of validity. Make sure you follow the legal requirements in Australia for witnessing such documents. You may seek out your local pharmacist, GP or lawyer to witness the signing of your documents.
Final thoughts on how to approach end of life planning when you don't have close family or friends.
Embarking on end-of-life planning without any close family or friends to rely on can be a particularly difficult and lonely task, highlighting the need for self-reliance and thorough preparation. While the absence of immediate support networks may make this process seem overwhelming, there are still ways to ensure that your wishes are respected and your affairs are in order.
At Bare, we’re here to support you through this phase of your life. If you would like to chat or have any questions for our incredible arrangers, please give us a call on 1800 071 176.