National Palliative Care week highlights importance of estate planning

Date: May 27, 2014

Hospice staff work tirelessly to look after the most vulnerable and sick in their last days. Often the work goes unnoticed by most except the family and friends involved, but this week highlights the important work that hospice staff do.

This week (May 25 - 31) marks National Palliative Care and aims to celebrate everyone who works in the sector and the care they provide. The aim of palliative care is to improve the quality of life for people in hospices and hospitals by recognising their needs and requirements in the last part of their life. Hospice workers will also support the person's family and carers during the illness and in bereavement.

Palliative Care Australia said this sector aims to give the patient the best quality life possible.

"These people - the nurses, GPs, specialists, allied health professionals, volunteers and family carers - are our unsung heroes, supporting Australians through one the most difficult moments in their lives with respect, dignity and care," the organisation said.

"We encourage everyone to think about the care we would want to receive towards the end of life and to have conversations with those closest to us about these preferences."

This week enforces the idea that everyone, no matter what age or health level, needs to be aware of the dangers of not estate planning and having wills in place.

It is then important to consider, at any stage of your life, contacting an estate lawyer to begin planning. Even if you are in your 20s or 30s, it would be wise to start estate proceedings just so something is in place for the protection of your family and assets.

This would include naming an enduring and medical power of attorneys who can make financial, legal and medical decisions on your behalf. In some cases, a person in palliative care is unable to make any decisions by themselves so it is vital that a family member or friend can step in and help.

The thought of being in a hospice or a hospital in the final months and days of your life may be morbid, but planning ahead can make the process as stress-free as possible for your family. This could include funeral details or burial specifications so they can take care of you rather than worry about the unimportant arrangements.

For more information about estate planning and to begin proceedings, contact an estate lawyer at Craddock Murray Neumann who can work through all the finer details and provide sound legal advice.