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Speaking for myself

Introduction

When you think about the future, you may take it for granted that you will be able to make your own decisions. But have you considered what would happen to your financial and personal affairs if you were involved in a bad car accident, had a stroke or developed dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease or other illness?

The reality is that things happen in life that mean you may not be able to make decisions for yourself. The law calls this losing ‘mental capacity’.

Rather than viewing this as a depressing subject that you’d rather avoid, you could take the opportunity now to plan ahead while you are still well and healthy and able to do so. This is important not just for yourself, but could also spare the people you care about much difficulty, anxiety and expense. This booklet explains how you can do this.

Don’t leave it too late. If you don’t plan ahead early enough, and you lose your capacity to make decisions, you will have lost the opportunity to have any control over, or say in, what happens to you or your property.

If that happens, people in your life who you may not have chosen may end up making decisions on your behalf on things like where you live, what happens to your home, whether you are placed in a nursing home or what medical treatment you receive.

If there is a dispute between family members over what decisions should be made, and who should make them, there will be no one with the authority to decide for you and resolve any disagreements. Someone may have to take legal action to sort this out. This can be time-consuming, stressful and expensive.

The Benevolent Society and Legal Aid NSW have prepared this booklet to help you take control of later life decisions. Speaking for myself is about taking steps to protect your interests, making sure your future is in good hands and that things are done the way you would want.