All too often I come across situations when families are faced with unnecessary heart ache at a difficult stage in their lives because their loved one has not expressed their advanced care wishes or put in place a lasting power of attorney or will.
None of us know what the future holds. That is why we encourage everyone, regardless of their age or health, to consider taking a number of practical steps. Doing this when you are able to can give you confidence that your wishes are documented so people close to you know what you would want.
It is not easy to do but the first step is to find the right time to talk about death with those close to you and express your future care needs.
Sometimes family and friends are reluctant to have these conversations. It could be that they don't want to think about your death or don't really know how to talk about the issue.
It might help the situation if you tell them it would help you to talk. If they are still reluctant, try telling them they don't have to talk about it now, but it is something you would like to discuss at some point. You then need to find the right time to address this again with them.
Only one in 10 of us talk to family and friends about where we would like to die. This often results in people spending the last moments of their life in hospital, which would not necessarily be their first choice. Developing an advance care plan will enable you to express what you want for your future care, where you want to be cared for and by whom. This plan can change at any time and is not a legally binding document.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legally binding document that protects your assets by asking someone of your choice to deal with your affairs on your behalf.
If you lose mental capacity and you do not have an LPA, then the Court of Protection takes control, taking up to 10 months, with a cost of approximately £1,000, for someone to be appointed.
There are two types of LPA. A Property and Financial Affairs LPA allows your representative to make decisions relating to your money and property for you.
A Health and Welfare LPA allows your representative to make decisions relating to your personal wellbeing, social care and consent or refusal for medical treatment. These decisions can only be made when you lack mental capacity.
Both types of LPA can only be used once they have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.
An LPA ceases to be effective upon death. This is when a Will comes into force. Having a Will in place ensures there are clear instructions about what you want to happen to your money, property, possessions and online accounts after you die.
If you die without a will, it can take much longer to deal with your estate and the people who inherit your money and possessions may not necessarily be the people you would have chosen.
Jewish Care has information booklets that outline how to plan for the future, including advanced care wishes and lasting power of attorney. We also have a team of social workers who can provide advice and support. Should you be faced with a life limiting illness our end-of-life care team can help co-ordinate care for you.
As a provider of social care for older people, Jewish Care's primary focus is to develop services that enable people to age well and live meaningful lives.
However, we are also realistic. We know that life doesn't go on for ever. That is why we don't want to shy away from talking about and planning for the inevitable.
Jewish Care has produced a series of information leaflets about these issues. For copies of these leaflets, or if you are in need of information or support, contact our confidential helpline - Jewish Care Direct on 020 8922 2222 / email@example.com