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Thinking about the end of your life

It’s often hard to think about death, but it can make things easier on your loved ones if you make decisions and plan in advance. There are a few things that you should know so you can inform those closest to you.

On this page:

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.

Have a look at our free will writing service where you can get a basic will written for free by a participating solicitor in your area. You can also 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 records 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 your life you might become unable to make decisions about your financial affairs or welfare.

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) allows you to stay in control by choosing a person to make these decisions for you. You can set one up if you can show you understand and approve of what is involved. Find out more for:

Advance statement or advance care plan

An advance statement or care plan is sometimes called a living will. It’s a way for you to write down and tell those important to you, including health and social care teams, what is important to you about your care and treatment. It’s used to share your wishes and preferences, as well as help make decision on your behalf if you become unable to say so yourself. For more information on advance care planning take a look at the Marie Curie website.

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 guide you can read through.

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 (public prosecutor in Scotland), 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. Action on Asbestos has more information.


If you haven’t already claimed, your family can claim compensation after your death. Read more about claiming compensation.

Our helpline team is dedicated to answering your questions. Call our helpline on 0300 222 5800. Lines are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Download our mesothelioma information (PDF, 166KB)

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.