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Life-limiting illnesses

Learning that your illness has become life-long or terminal, can be shocking and devastating. Here we outline some practical steps you can take to retain control and ease the burden on loved ones when the time comes.

  1. Guardianship and advance care plan. An estate plan encompasses your Last Will, end of life treatment plans, superannuation nominations, powers of guardianship and advanced care plan. Westpac’s Estate Planning checklist (PDF 92KB) can help get you started. If you have already created an estate plan, it could be worthwhile reviewing it and updating your directions, nominations and beneficiaries.
  2. Update and coordinate your financials.
    • Gather your financial documentation using First things first (PDF 65KB) folder. Ensure that you have the latest copies of your superannuation, Will, insurance policies, enduring power of attorney or enduring guardianship and advanced care plan (if applicable).
    • Update your utilities and bills. For sole accounts, it can be helpful to nominate your partner or a relative on joint accounts. If your outgoings for home are in joint names, you may want to consider transferring the title to your partner. However, if you are receiving a discount or financial support for the bills, ensure that your named partner has full authorisation over the account, including removing your name as and when necessary.
    • You may be able to access superannuation in severe situations, such as terminal illness. The ATO and Centrelink website have more details. Contact your super fund to find out more and make an application.
    • If you have insurance as part of your superannuation you may be able to make an insurance claim.
  3. Ensure your partner is financially secure. Help your partner to understand the household finances and create a budget for when they are on their own so that they feel more financially secure and informed. You, your trusted friend or attorney can do this by:
    • Create a budget for when they are on their own.
    • Ensure they understand the contents of your First things first (PDF 65KB) folder.
    • Encourage them to talk to the bank and establish themselves independently. They can apply for their own credit card and accounts in order to continue having access to funds.
    • Ensure that your partner is a nominated representative on your accounts so that they can make changes as necessary.
    • Consider putting some accounts/loans into their name. Talk to the bank about what is suitable in your circumstances.
    • Transfer funds to your spouse before your passing to ensure that they have money in your absence.
  4. Making memories with and for your loved ones. Creating opportunities for and with your loved ones can help to ease the pain of losing you in the future as well as give you a helpful distraction. You might like to consider:
    • Updating your photographs to have recent pictures of you and your loved ones helps to preserve the memories that you have of each other.
    • Writing living letters to your loved ones for them upon your death.
    • Planning a holiday or getaway (if possible) together with your loved ones.
  5. Planning your Life End’s arrangements. Planning and documenting what you would like to have as your celebration-of-life or funeral can make the arrangements far easier for your grieving loved ones. Things to include may be pre-paying funeral expenses and creating a list of names and contact details of people whom you want your loved ones to inform when you die. Some people like to select songs and readings for their end of life celebration. Remember to share your wishes for your final send-off. There are plenty of resources to help you begin the conversation.
  6. Seek professional advice and regularly review your plans. Regularly reviewing your plans and arrangements with your trusted team of experts (financial planner, accountant, solicitor, banker, lenders) helps you to be as prepared as possible at all moments. The Loss of a Loved One guide (PDF 632KB) and checklist (PDF 92KB) can help in preparing for your passing as well as dealing with Estates after losing a loved one.

If you’re experiencing financial difficulty, worried you can’t make your repayments or your income has significantly changed as a result of your condition, Westpac Assist is here to help.

Westpac Assist on 1800 067 497

Calling from overseas on +61 2 9155 5725

Monday - Friday 8.30am-7.30pm

Saturday 9.30am-6.00pm (Sydney time)

Or apply for hardship assistance online at

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.