There are so many terms we have to understand if we want to be in charge of our living and dying in later years. Many people know what a Last Will & Testament is, but do you know what these other terms mean and how they affect you?

Remembering and understanding these terms will help you when you need to discuss your future options.

POWER OF ATTORNEY: When you appoint someone to act on your behalf in your financial dealings for a certain period of time – e.g. if you were going overseas.

ENDURING POWER OF ATTORNEY: When you appoint someone to act on your behalf in your financial dealings long term, usually when you have lost ‘capacity’ to make financial decisions.

ENDURING GUARDIAN: When you appoint someone to act on your behalf in deciding what health and wellbeing actions are to be taken in the long term, when you no longer have the capacity to do so.

ADVANCE CARE PLAN: The health care choices you make should your health fail in later years. These can then be inserted into your Advance Care Directive.

ADVANCE CARE DIRECTIVE: Also known as a Living Will, it is a document indicating which healthcare steps should be taken in certain circumstances if a person does not have the capacity to make or communicate health/medical decisions. In the document you can designate a ‘Person Responsible’ to make decisions when you can’t.

CAPACITY: Refers to being

  • able to freely and voluntarily make decisions about a matter;
  • able to understand and foresee the effects of any decision you make;
  • able to communicate these decisions to others;
  • and in South Australia: able to remember these decisions for a short while.

As long as you have capacity, you will be able to accept or reject specific health and wellbeing treatments. When you are deemed to have lost capacity, someone else will make those decisions for you.

You nominate a person over the age of 18 whom you trust to advocate your health and wellbeing wishes in your Advance Care Directive. They can be your Enduring Guardian, spouse, de facto spouse or same-sex partner; an unpaid carer, a close friend or relative or combination of these. They must agree to be your person responsible and sign the Advance Care Directive in front of a witness.

PREPAID FUNERALS: Where you have arranged and purchased your funeral in advance. The type and style of funeral you want is set out in a contract and paid for at an agreed price. You can pay this directly to the funeral director, who will invest the funds in a funeral trust, or you can purchase a funeral bond and assign the benefit to the funeral director.

FUNERAL BONDS: Sometimes called funeral investments. These are managed investments that earn interest, but have the following specific features:

  • the interest must be added to the capital
  • the capital and interest is only realised on death when it is paid to the estate or to the funeral director to cover funeral expenses, and
  • your money is invested in an independently managed funeral fund

FUNERAL INSURANCE: Like other types of insurance, you pay monthly or fortnightly premiums (ongoing payments) for a fixed amount of cover. Usually you can choose between $5,000 to $15,000 cover which will be paid to your beneficiary when you die.

BODY DONATION: If you apply to a university to donate your body, it could be used for anatomical teaching, medical and scientific research and specialist training including medical, dental, science, physiotherapy and nursing students.

ORGAN DONATION: The donation of an organ of the human body, from a living or dead person to a living recipient in need of a transplantation for health purposes.

TISSUE DONATION: Sometimes donors will donate eyes or tissue and not organs–others will donate all three. This might happen because, although a donor wished to donate their organs as well as their eyes and tissue, the organs aren’t suitable for donation.