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The Importance of Discussing Death and Avoiding Some of the Myths around Estate Planning

There was a popular British TV comedy in the 70’s called ‘Till Death Us Do Part’ but it spoke little of death. The titular reference was more to ultra-bigot Alf Garnett’s troubled wife, who may have longed for death’s sweet release.

In fact, death is spoken about infrequently in the western world. After getting past stratospheric Victorian infant mortality rates, two global conflicts and Spanish flu, our forebears found the topic less than savoury for after-dinner conversation. Death, and its discussion, was discreetly and progressively made taboo and pushed within the walls of aged-care homes and hospices.

Ironically to avoid the issue will undoubtedly do more harm than good. Whatever our thoughts or feelings, death’s inevitability and after-effects make its consideration valuable. Getting past the myths is the first step.

Myth 1 – It’s too far off to worry about.

The timing is as unpredictable as death is inevitable. Based on ABS data, 10% of deaths in 2014 were people under 55 and 50% of all deaths were ‘potentially avoidable’, i.e. accidental or could have been treated if care was available.

Myth 2 – Talking about it will frighten my family or be considered morbid.

The impacts of sudden or long term illness and death run far and wide. If you’re in business, your partners, employees and even creditors can be seriously affected by your passing. Families are faced with the confusing, multiple traumas of personal loss, financial unravelling and the burden of making critical decisions during a period of high stress.

Myth 3 – I’m not wealthy enough for it to make any difference.

Even modest estates benefit from preparation. Avoiding unnecessary wastage and costs through decisions made on the fly, while people are grieving, will make a huge difference. Clear understanding about funeral arrangements alone will make a significant difference.

Including the potential of death in any planning conversation is good risk management strategy. We’re fortunate to have many legally recognised tools in Australia. Traditional wills, living wills and guardianship directives can all smooth the path. NKH Knight business advisors bring a sensitive and integrated approach to planning to help you cope with all eventualities.

Anything that reduces the burden on the bereaved is a worthy legacy.