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End of life

What practical things should I think about?

On this page, we explain the practical things you might want to think about when approaching end of life, including making a will, putting your affairs in order and organ donation.

Practical issues might be the last thing you want to think about towards the end of a life. But you may find it helpful to sort things out, knowing that your family and friends don’t have to have the responsibility of making major decisions for you later. You may want to think about:

Making a will

A will is a legal document that sets out instructions for who will inherit your money, possessions and property after you die. You can draw up a will yourself, but it is best to get legal help because there are certain rules to follow when writing it. Have a look at our free will guide or contact your local Citizens Advice for a list of solicitors who can help by either writing the will for you, or checking one that you have written. Bear in mind, if you haven’t made a will and you and your partner aren’t married or in a civil partnership, they won’t have an automatic right to inherit. This applies even if you’ve been together a long time or have children together.

We run a free will writing service for people in England and Wales, where you can get a basic will written for free by a participating solicitor in your area. There is also the option of writing your will from the comfort of your home - this is also free and online.

Before making your will, it’s important to think about:

  • what money, possessions and property you have (this is called your estate)
  • who you want to give your estate to
  • who you want to take care of any children who are under 18
  • any wishes you may have about your burial or cremation
  • who you want to carry out your wishes and sort out your estate (they are known as the executor of your will).

Putting your affairs in order

It can be helpful to let your family and executor know where they can find:

  • your financial records such as your bank, building society, credit card and pension details. You might find it useful to set up a joint bank account with your partner or next of kin to move important direct debit payments onto, so they won’t stop when you die. 
  • important documents such as your passport, insurance details and house deeds.
  • how they can access important information stored on your computer or phone. You might want to share your usernames and passwords with one trusted person. The Digital Legacy Association has useful free resources to help you sort out your online assets, like social media, online subscriptions and photos you might have saved on the computer. We have information about staying safe online on our technology for lung health hub.   
  • details of your gas, water, electricity suppliers and phone contracts as well as any hire or credit agreements. 
  • funeral plans, including any pre-paid plans. You might have thoughts about how you want your funeral to be. If so, don’t be afraid to write them down or let someone know what is important to you.

Organ and body donation

In England, Wales and Scotland, if you haven’t registered that you do not wish to be an organ donor, you will be considered to have no objections to becoming an organ donor when you die.

You still have a choice and can register if you do not wish to be an organ donor. When the time comes your family will always be asked, so whatever you decide it’s important you let them know. You can find out more about organ donation on the NHS website.

In Northern Ireland, the current legislation is that a person becomes an organ donor by joining the NHS Organ Donor Register and sharing the decision with their family.

Deciding to become an organ donor is a personal choice. It’s a good idea to take some time to think about what is right for you and tell your loved ones your decision. Having a medical condition doesn’t necessarily prevent a person from becoming an organ donor. Even if you are unable to donate some organs, tissue and corneal donation is possible for almost anyone. Read more about who can donate on the NHS website.

You might be interested in donating your body for medical purposes when you die. The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) has a useful FAQ page on body donation where you can read more about what this means, how it affects funeral or memorial services and the conditions of body donation.

Read next: Dealing with your emotions

Download our end of life information (PDF, 490KB)

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