Preparing legal documents

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to think about preparing your legal documents. In other words, making a will, appointing a substitute decision-maker and preparing an advance care directive.

For any of these documents to be legally binding, you need to have capacity at the time of signing the document. Having capacity refers to an adult’s ability to make a decision for themselves. It means you are able to understand the choices that are available and the consequences of your decisions, and are able to communicate your choices. For more information, talk to your lawyer and doctor, or visit

Learn more about:

Making a will

A will is a legal document that sets out what you want to happen to your assets after you die. These assets are called your estate and may include your house, land, car, bank accounts, jewellery, clothes, household goods or investments. A will can also record your wishes regarding who will look after any children (guardianship).

Making a will is not difficult but it needs to be prepared and written in the right way to be legally valid. A will should be reviewed and updated as circumstances change. It is best to ask a lawyer to help you, or contact the Public Trustee in your state or territory. For more information on preparing a will, call Cancer Council’s Legal and Financial Referral Service on 13 11 20.

If you die without a valid will, you are said to die intestate. Your assets are distributed to family members according to a formula provided by the law. Although a will can be challenged in court, a valid will usually means your assets go to the people you choose. It can also help avoid extra expenses, and simplify the process for your family.

   — Ian

Appointing a substitute decision-maker

You can appoint someone to make medical decisions for you if in the future you lose capacity to make these decisions yourself. This person is called a substitute decision-maker.

A substitute decision-maker should be someone you trust, who understands your values and preferences for future care and can make the decision you would have wanted. Depending on where you live, the documents for appointing this person may be known as an enduring power of attorney, enduring power of guardianship, or appointment of a medical treatment decision maker.

Making an advance care directive

You can record your wishes for your future medical care in an advance care directive. This will only come into effect if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. It provides a record for doctors, family and carers to consider, and may be legally binding in some states and territories. Depending on where you live, the advance care directive may have a different name, such as an advance health directive or advance personal plan.

Keep a copy of your advance care directive for yourself and share copies with your GP, oncologist, substitute decision-maker, family member or friend. Ask your doctor or the hospital to place your directive on your medical record. You can also save a digital version to My Health Record, a government website that stores your health information – find out more at My Health Record. You can update your advance care directive when your preferences change.

For more on this, visit Advance Care Planning Australia or call 1300 208 582.

Managing your digital legacy

If you use social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, you may want to think about what happens to your accounts after your death.

Each social media platform has different rules for deactivating accounts, while some allow your account to be turned into a memorial page.

It is a good idea to prepare a list of all your social media accounts, passwords and instructions and leave it with someone you trust, so they can manage your ongoing digital presence according to your wishes.

If your family or friends need to delete or deactivate your account after your death, they may need to provide proof of death documentation. For more information, download Palliative Care Australia’s Guide to a Social Media Afterlife.

Donating organs and tissue

Organ and tissue donation is possible for some people with cancer. This will depend on the cancer type and spread, and will be assessed by a doctor after the death. You need to be in a hospital to donate organs but this isn’t necessary for tissue. To record your wish to donate tissue or organs, visit Share your decision with family as they will be asked to give consent after your death.

Click on the icon below to download a PDF booklet on facing the end of life

    Facing End of Life

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Printed copies are available for free - Call 13 11 20 to order

Instructions for downloading and reading EPUB files

Apple devices

The iBooks application must be installed on your Apple device before you can read the EPUB.
Different ways to download an EPUB file to your Apple device:

  • email EPUB files to yourself and transfer the attachment to iBooks.
  • copy EPUB files into DropBox (or a similar service) and use the DropBox app to send them to iBooks.
  • open EPUB files directly from Mobile Safari and open them in iBooks, where they are saved automatically by downloading the EPUB from the website.

Need more help? Visit:


To download an EPUB file to your Kobo from a Windows computer:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • select “Open folder to view files” to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
Need more information? Visit:

Sony Reader

To download an EPUB file on your Sony Reader™:

  • ensure you have already installed the Reader™ Library for PC/Mac software
  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
  • connect the Reader™ to your computer.
  • open the Reader™ Library software and click “Library” in the left-hand pane and select the eBook to view it.

Need more help? Visit:

Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
For more information on accessing a PDF on your Kindle™, visit, log in to your account and click on Personal Document Settings.
Need more help? Visit

Android and PC

You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in January 2020
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