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Practical issues

There are practical issues to think about when you know you are dying. These might include your will, your finances and the type of funeral you want.

Your will

A will is a legal document where you say what you want to happen to your money, property and belongings when you die. These is called your estate or assets. It can also include details of who should look after your children and pets for example.

It’s worth remembering that the law decides who gets your estate if you don't make a will. A will needs to be prepared and written in the right way.

It is important to update your will when your circumstances change. And tell your next of kin where you keep your will. 

Your will is used to:

  • name your executors (who will manage your financial affairs)
  • distribute your estate (say who your house, pets, belongings or savings will go to)
  • provide for children under 18 
  • reduce inheritance tax 

Where to get help 

Often, it's best to use a solicitor, or professional will writer, to help you. This is especially the case if your will is complicated. The cost of this service can vary depending on how simple or complicated it is.

There are other ways you can get help with making a will. These might be suitable if your circumstances are straightforward. They include:

  • employers and trade unions
  • legal advice services as part of an insurance policy such as home insurance 
  • charity free will services 

A number of different charities offer a free will-writing service. This generally includes the services of a solicitor. They usually ask for a donation for this service, but it is voluntary. There are slight differences in the services offered and who is eligible. So it is worth shopping around and finding something that’s best for you.

You can find out more about writing your will with different charities at the Will Aid website. 

Some people chose to write their will themselves. But this may not be a good idea if your will is complicated. There are resources to help you in shops or online. These include:

Your finances

Financial problems can be very worrying. They can be especially stressful if you’ve been ill for a long time and have had to give up work because of your cancer.

You could be spending more on special diets, heating or laundry. You might worry about how you will pay bills, your mortgage or rent and other living expenses. 

Help and support is available to you for many of the financial issues you might have. You could qualify for Government benefits and charity grants if you have cancer, or if you’re caring for someone with cancer.

The social worker at the hospital or hospice can also give you advice on where to get financial help.

Choosing the type of funeral you want

Discussing your funeral might not be an easy subject. Understandably, some people find it depressing and unsettling to discuss their funeral before they die. But others find it comforting to plan and organise their own funeral in a lot of detail. 

There might be certain music, songs, poems or prayers that you’d like to have. You might want to have the funeral at a specific church and be buried in a certain cemetery. You can say whether you want a burial or cremation.

There is no wrong or right way to do any of these things. It is a very personal issue and up to you and your close relatives and friends. The important thing is to let someone know your wishes.

If you would like to plan your own funeral, a funeral director can help you with this. They will do all they can to make this time as easy as possible for you. Choosing a funeral director can be difficult. Friends or relatives who have had to arrange a funeral in the past might be able to suggest someone. You can also contact the National Association of Funeral Directors. They can give you details of local funeral directors.

We have more information abour arranging a funeral in the pages below.

Last reviewed: 
20 Feb 2019
  • Making a will
    www.gov.uk (Accessed March 2019)

  • Dying well; a holistic guide for the dying and their carers
    R. Reoch
    British Medical Journal. 1997, 314:1632

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