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What to do if you’re critically ill and self-employed

Being a business owner when diagnosed with a serious illness can create a time of uncertainty and additional stress. By ensuring that you have the right systems, procedures and plans in place, you will be able to focus on your recovery.

If you are self-employed, consider the following steps:

  • Review and apply as many items in the Serious Illness guide (PDF 4MB) and checklist (PDF 86KB).
  • Keep your debtors and creditors to a minimum. If you are unable to work and are able to use your computer and phone, call upon all outstanding debt to help you through this time.
  • If your illness is short-term, consider establishing a financial arrangement with a fellow trusted business-owner or operator to refer them the work that you can’t service at this time.
  • If your illness is long-term or permanent, you may consider selling your business, re-skilling, re-training, becoming a consultant or changing the direction of the business by diversifying.
  • Your accountant can assist and manage dealing with the ATO and perhaps coordinate a payment plan or extension for the due dates. If you are considering selling the business, your accountant will be able to prepare the accounts.
  • If you have any secured or unsecured loans with the bank, it is advisable that you speak with your business banker regarding your situation and discuss the plan for the business while you are focusing on your health.
  • It’s time to review your business insurances and ensure that they are all paid and up to date. This will help give you security and peace of mind that your business is covered while you take time to focus on yourself. Equally, it may be time to call upon insurances that you have within your business to assist you during this time.
  • Review your superannuation (if coordinated through the business) and enquire about additional financial support.
  • Appoint your nominated authorities who have permission to act on your behalf while you attend to your health needs.
  • Review your staffing levels and ascertain whether you may need to employ more key staff or reduce the number of staff working for you. It may be worth distributing additional duties to your employees and implement dual-sign off for particular business activities (like banking or contract approvals).
  • If you own and operate a large business, you may need to consider succession planning for its continuity and review the shareholdings and beneficiaries of the business. Your accountant and/or banker can assist creating a succession plan.
  • Speak with your business banker for additional information and assistance related to your business situation and your personal circumstances.

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Things you should know

This information is general in nature and has been prepared without taking your objectives, needs and overall financial situation into account. For this reason, you should consider the appropriateness for the information to your own circumstances and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

© Westpac Banking Corporation ABN 33 007 457 141 AFSL and Australian credit licence 233714.