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You only get one chance to have your dying wishes met – the importance of making end of life plans

This week sees the fifth annual Dying Matters Awareness Week. With a focus on ‘You Only Die Once’, the coalition, which was set up in 2009 to change public knowledge, attitudes and behaviours towards dying, death and bereavement, is hoping to raise awareness of the importance of making proper end of life plans.

To coincide with the week long awareness raising event, Dying Matters has released the results of a recent survey which show that millions of Britons are failing to make adequate plans for their death and don’t know the wishes of their loved ones.

The survey of 2,000 adults found that despite 80% of people believing that all adults should have a Will in case they die:

  • only 21% of people have discussed their end of life wishes
  • only 36% of people have written a Will
  • only 29% of people have let loved ones know of their funeral wishes
  • 51% of people are not aware of their partner’s end of life wishes
  • 83% of people are uncomfortable discussing dying and death
  • only 34% of people have registered as an organ donor or have a donor card

While planning for what happens after you are gone is never easy, removing the fear and talking openly about dying should be encouraged. Careful preparation for end of life can provide much needed peace of mind that your wishes will be respected once you are gone and avoid the likelihood of any unwanted family and inheritance disputes.

Not only will the opening up of such discussions clarify what happens to your assets after you are gone, but just as importantly open talks will also ensure that your wishes are respected should you be unable to make decisions for yourself and/or require long-term care in the future.

In our increasingly ageing population, it is difficult to avoid the notion that many of us will end up requiring care in our later years. However many people still fail to consider how the need for such care will impact our savings, our investments and even our home. With the Dying Matters’ survey reporting that only 6% of people have written down their wishes about future care should this occur, it is clear that increased awareness on long-term care planning is desperately needed.

The importance of making a Will and planning for end of life is something the Trusts & Estates team here at Linder Myers has been advocating for many years. I personally have undertaken a number of free talks to local groups, including the Women’s Institute to help raise awareness of this subject. The latest research and awareness raising initiative by Dying Matters demonstrates once again just how important it is for us all to engage with these issues.

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