End of life with mesothelioma
It’s often hard to think about death, but it can make things easier on your loved ones if you make decisions and plans in advance.
There are a few things that you should know about so you can inform those closest to you.
Making a will
By making a will you can decide what happens to your property and possessions. You can draw up a will yourself, but it’s best to get legal help because there are certain rules to follow when writing the document.
You can contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau for a list of solicitors who can help either by writing the will for you, or checking a will you have written.
Putting your affairs in order
It can be helpful to let your family know where they can find:
- your financial details such as your bank, building society, credit card and pension details
- important documents such as your passport, insurance documents and house deeds
- details of your gas, water and electricity suppliers as well as anyone you have hire or credit agreements with
- details of your last wishes and any pre-paid funeral plans
Lasting power of attorney (LPA)
Towards the end of life you might become unable to make decisions about your financial affairs or welfare.
An LPA allows you to stay in control by choosing a person to make these decisions for you. You can set one up as long as you can show you understand and approve of what is involved. Find out more at:
- www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney (England and Wales)
- www.publicguardian-scotland.gov.uk/power-of-attorney (Scotland)
- www.nidirect.gov.uk (Northern Ireland)
Advance statement or advance directive (living will)
An advance statement or directive is sometimes called a living will. This is a way for you to write down and tell those important to you, including health and social care teams, what you know about your illness and what is important to you about your care and treatment. It’s used to show what medical treatment you would like to receive if you become unable to make decisions. For example, you can leave instructions about whether you want to be resuscitated if your heart stops or receive artificial ventilation in intensive care. For advice in these matters it’s worth talking to a solicitor. Find out more at about advance care planning. If you are living in Scotland, there is specific information on advance care planning.
Involvement of the coroner
Mesothelioma is classed as an industrial disease. This means that, in England and Wales, all deaths from mesothelioma must be referred to the local coroner’s office. The coroner will then decide if a post-mortem examination is required and will hold an inquest. A death certificate can only be issued after the inquest. This can be a very difficult time for family and loved ones and it really helps to be clear about the process surrounding the inquest. The government has a short guide on coroner services.
In Northern Ireland, deaths relating to mesothelioma must be reported to the coroner. The coroner will decide whether an inquest needs to be held, but the family can make their views known and these will be considered before any decision is made. A post mortem may take place if there’s a possibility that it would help to learn more about the disease or to obtain tissue samples.
In Scotland, a doctor must report a death from mesothelioma to the procurator fiscal, who has a duty to investigate. If mesothelioma has been diagnosed by a biopsy when the person was alive, it may be possible for the cause of death to be certified without a post mortem. Since 2014, the procurator fiscal and chief medical officer have agreed procedures to reduce distress to the family. This process also aims to establish the facts that may be required for a civil case for compensation. Clydeside Action on Asbestos has more information.
If you haven’t already claimed, your family can claim compensation after your death. Our helpline can explain the options – call 03000 030 555.
Our helpline team is dedicated to answering your questions. Call our helpline on 03000 030 555. Lines are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.