Planning ahead after your death helps them carry on with life.

In 2009, Singaporeans revealed their biggest fear about dying was becoming a burden to their friends and family in a survey commissioned by the Lien Foundation.

Being pragmatic Singaporeans, their second top concern was the medical cost of illness and dying.

Why should I plan ahead for my death?

There are many things you can do to alleviate these concerns and lessen the burden of care for your family. Planning makes it easier for families members to care for you and fulfil your last wishes — helping you to die a good death.

Making plans when you are well and unpressured lets you the luxury of time to make considered decisions. If you had to make rushed decisions about costs and choice of care options while you are faced with ill health, your decision-making abilities will be compromised and you may not have considered all possible options.

How do I leave a legacy?

You can find a professional to consult with about how you may want to leave your assets when you pass on. In Singapore, lawyers and will-writers do this for a fee. You can also write your own will stating your intentions on how you wish to distribute your assets, provided you follow the requirements set out in the Wills Act.

Generally, the will should give instructions on who will inherit your immovable property. You may also have items of value or important sentiment to you. You can write down how you want these items to be handled after your death.

If you are a parent of young children, you may want to think about who should be responsible for their care if both you and your spouse are no longer around. This can be added in your will.

It may take a while for your will to be executed, so consider naming a temporary legal guardian for your children in your will until a permanent legal guardian can be appointed or your will is executed, to reduce the chances of your children being placed into foster care. Remember to inform your chosen guardian and ensure they agree to assume this responsibility, as they must be willing to allow their lives to be scrutinised when they apply to the courts to assume guardianship of your children.

Digital assets, comprising of social media accounts, digital photographs and music collections, have become part of our estate.

If you tend to do your errands and make payments online, it will be handy to keep a list of your logins and passwords to vital service providers, such as banks, telco and water and electricity providers for family members to access when you are gone.

In Singapore, citizens would be able to transact online with government agencies online with their Singpass login, so this is an important aspect of your digital assets too.

Planning for medical care in case of major illness

Adequate medical insurance helps to cover you for the cost of hospitalisation and critical illness if you should be diagnosed with cancer or a major illness, so that your out-of–pocket medical costs will not be too hefty. Speaking to your financial planner and getting insurance coverage should help alleviate worries about the cost of medical care in Singapore.

But if the treatment you are taking when you are sick drags on without recovery or significant improvement to your quality of life, this is where taking part in the Advanced Care Planning (ACP) programme will be beneficial.

ACP is the process of planning for your future health and personal care. It allows you to share your personal values and beliefs, explore how your values and beliefs affect your healthcare preferences in difficult medical situations and think about who you would like to represent your wishes with regard to treatment and care if you become very ill.

Among the issues you should be prepared to think about is a Lasting Power of Attorney. With this legal document, you can appoint one or more persons to make decisions and act on your behalf, if you lose your mental capacity to do so. The person(s) you appoint is your donee(s), and you can appoint them to act on behalf of your personal welfare, or make decisions about your property & affairs. In Singapore, the fee for applying for an LPA has been waived until Aug 31, 2020.

Click here to find out how to make an LPA.

Funeral rites and traditions

The Lien Foundation survey showed that younger Singaporeans are comfortable talking about their own deaths, but older Singaporeans are not, even though they may be comfortable speaking about the topic to someone who has a terminal illness.

If you feel strongly about having a say in how your final moments should look like, it is a good idea to tell it to someone you are close to, so that your wishes can be fulfilled.

You may want to look to a religious leader or a funeral director for guidance in this aspect.

Click here to see our funeral services directory list.

Last thoughts

It may be important to you and your family to have memories of significant times together when you are gone. You can consider leaving written notes or creating a video or voice recording for them.

Get useful checklists and tips to help you and your loved ones navigate the end-of-life journey.

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