When you think about a ‘bucket list’, you might be more likely to think of round-the-world cruises and skydiving than paperwork and planning a funeral. Though it might not be as fun as planning your next holiday, there are plenty of things to do before you die that are practical, sometimes essential, and will help you and your family cope when the time comes.
Here are five practical bucket list ideas to talk about with your family and help you plan for the future.
Write a will
Writing a will is an essential part of getting your affairs in order. Many people in Australia die every year without a valid will, sometimes causing massive complications and stress for their loved ones.
If you die without a valid will, your estate might not be shared out in the way that you want. A will also lets you bequeath specific possessions or amounts of money to certain people, as well as choose a trustworthy executor to look after your estate after you die.
To make a will, you must be over 18 and of sound mind, while under-18s must apply to the Supreme Court if they wish to make a will. Depending on how complex your estate is, you may want to hire a solicitor to make sure everything is taken care of. The will must be signed by you in the presence of two witnesses, and then signed by those witnesses.
Consider signing the organ donor register
Around 1,200 Australians have their lives transformed or saved by organ and tissue donation every year. Many of these donations are possible because people have signed the organ donor register. By signing the register, you are recording your wish to donate organs and tissue after your death.
However, doctors will always confirm the decision to donate tissue and organs with your family, so it’s best to let them know if you have decided to sign the register. This means that they are more likely to understand and respect your wishes when the time comes.
Make an advance care plan
Writing an advance care plan lets you express how you want to be cared for in your final days. This means that if you lose the ability to communicate your wishes yourself, medical professionals and your loved ones will know what course to take.
In a written advance care plan you can decide what treatment you would and wouldn’t want at the end of life. For example, would you want to be put on a ventilator? Would you refuse a blood transfusion? It also allows you to choose a substitute decision-maker – a trusted loved one who will make decisions on your behalf if you are unable.
Different state and territories in Australia have different regulations regarding written advance care plans. The organisation Advance Care Planning can provide further information.
Plan your funeral
Organising a funeral for a loved one can be a stressful process at what is an already difficult time. You can take away some of the uncertainty by making sure your loved ones know what kind of funeral service you would want.
Do you want to be buried or cremated? Would you prefer a religious or non-religious service? Should it be sombre and serious, or a celebration of life? Answering basic questions like this can reassure your loved ones that they are doing what you would have wanted when the time comes.
Why not write down your funeral wishes and keep them in a safe place? Alternatively, you can make arrangements and ease the financial burden for your loved ones by taking out a funeral plan.
Think about your digital legacy
If you use the internet, chances are you have a whole host of usernames and passwords just stowed away in your mind. Whether it’s your Facebook account or Amazon log-in details, your digital assets are more important than you might realise.
Whether they want to shut down your social media or cancel an online subscription, it can be difficult, or sometimes impossible, for families to cancel online accounts after a loved one dies if they don’t know their passwords.
You can use password management software, such as KeePass or LastPass to keep all your passwords in one place. Alternatively, you could write down all your important digital assets and keep the list with your will for when the time comes.
Find out more about managing an estate so you can plan ahead.