Planning for your future: why it’s important to have an advance plan

Having an advance plan can give you peace of mind for you and your family. Picture: Getty Images

Having an advance plan can give you peace of mind for you and your family. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Advance planning, also known as end-of-life planning, means putting plans and paperwork in place so that those organising your funeral and sorting out your estate will know what to do when you die.

Having an up to date will is important. Picture: Getty Images

Having an up to date will is important. Picture: Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Jane Diamond from Family Tree Funeral Company explains why it’s important to have an advance plan and what steps you should take.

Q: Why do I need an advance plan?

For peace of mind, and as a gift to your family. You don’t have to be elderly or ill to plan for end-of-life, but if you are, or should the unexpected happen, you would want to know you had the right provisions in place to ensure your wishes and needs were met.

We have heard it reported many times that life is brighter and more fulfilling once you have these plans in place. There are no loose ends, and less for others to stress or argue about.

Q: I know my will is up to date. Isn’t that enough?

If your will is up to date, that’s a great start. The next bit is to arrange for one or two trusted friends or family members to take on Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare and Property and Finance. You can then draw up an Advance Decision to Refuse Treatment, along with a supporting Advance Statement and last days’ wishes. If you are elderly or have a terminal illness you may wish to consider a Do Not Resuscitate order.

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Q. Is this what they call ‘putting my affairs in order’?

Basically, yes. It’s so helpful to gather information on ‘how my life runs’. This too, is simple: collect into a single folder all your passwords, information about finances, digital assets and how your house works, etc.

Now you’re almost there, you will probably want to finish by writing down your funeral wishes, including whether you want a burial or cremation. This can be very simple but – believe you me – it makes a massive difference to those you leave behind to know what you wanted.

Q: This sounds complicated and daunting. Where do I start?

At Family Tree Funeral Company, we are trained in walking people through these steps at the pace that feels right for you. We run workshops on advance planning as well as individual and couple sessions.

Q: And what about paying for my funeral?

Now you’ve started you may as well think about this too. If you are well, have the savings, and are expecting to live a good while, then the right pre-paid funeral plan makes good sense.

Funeral services are not cheap, and have been outpacing inflation in the last two decades. Paying in advance locks in the funeral director’s fee and covers the bulk of the disbursements at today’s prices. Family Tree works with Open Prepaid Funeral Plans, which allows you to invest a sum of money that pays out on your death. You are not bound by pre-determined ‘packages’ and we have found this to be the most affordable and transparent organisation to hold your money.

If you are expecting to die sooner, we recommend setting up a joint ISA with a trusted family member/executor and paying into that.

Q: It makes me uncomfortable to think about dying. How do I make sure I’m ready to talk about it?

You’re not alone; many people feel this way. Talk to a friend or family member who might be open to this sort of conversation. You might want to go along with a friend to a Death Café, where people meet to explore all sorts of issues around death and dying. There is one in Nailsworth every other month. Contact us for details and to ask any other questions.

Q: I’ve done my advance planning and I feel enormously relieved. Now what?

Relax and know you’ve taken responsibility for what happens to you after you have died; encourage others to do the same. We should all make planning for end-of-life as normal as planning for a wedding or a birth.

If you have any questions about end-of-life planning, call 01453 767 769 or email For more information, visit

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