One in five people talk to a lawyer about end-of-life wishes

Date: Jul 30, 2014

The Council on the Aging NSW (COTA NSW) released its 50+ report on Valentines Day this year. The purpose of the report was to uncover the experiences and priorities of older people in the state by analysing the COTA NSW Consumer Survey findings. There were 1804 respondents that qualified for the 50+ report.

Nearly two-thirds (64.2 per cent) of people who are 50 or older have discussed their end-of-life wishes with someone according to the report. However, this was not necessarily with a lawyer. A lawyer can help you write up your end-of-life wishes as part of your estate plan

When respondents were asked about end-of-life planning, only 20.6 per cent conceded they had discussed their wishes with a lawyer. However, 63.6 per cent of respondents had talked about this issue with their partners or carers. Older people also reported that they discussed their end-of-life wishes with their children (58.3 per cent). 

Friends (34 per cent), other relatives (23 per cent) and general practitioners (22.6 per cent) also ranked above lawyers as individuals to discuss end-of-life wishes with. Minister for Health Jillian Skinner said in a 2013 report on advanced care planning that it is important to discuss your wishes with all these groups, including your lawyer. 

"Each of them may have some part to play - each need to know what we want so that each of them can help provide it for us," said Ms Skinner.  

The 50+ report also asked about palliative care in NSW. The majority of respondents (55.3 per cent) know or knew someone getting palliative care. However, a quarter of these respondents (26.3 per cent) "did not feel that it provided enough comfort towards the end of the person's life".

COTA NSW CEO Ian Day said in a February 14 2014 press release that older people are active and engaged in the community. 

"They take responsibility for their health, and most people who responded to our survey express high-levels of well-being. It's when they feel like their ability to take control of their life is compromised that older people express high levels of dissatisfaction," said Mr Day. 

The NSW Health Advance Planning Quality Care at End of Life - Action Plan 2013-18 outlines that advance care planning should be encouraged earlier in people's lives so that choices such as enduring guardians are considered.

Estate planning can provide peace of mind over end-of-life care and how your assets will be distributed.