David ‘Kochie’ Koch has revealed he told his wife he doesn’t want to be kept alive on life support should the time ever come, as he’d rather die “on his own terms than with a poor lifestyle”.
The 62-year-old Sunrise star has urged Aussies to speak openly to their family about their inheritance plans when writing their will, as there’s nothing worse than causing disputes or offence once you’re gone.
Speaking in an exclusive chat with Starts at 60, Kochie – who first began his career in finance before moving into television in his 40s – said he’s always spoken openly about everything from his inheritance, to organ donation and end of life planning.
“[My wife] Liv and I have talked a lot about end of life care planning, and I’ve talked a lot with my mother about it too. It needs to be clearly laid out for family,” he said. “If an emergency comes along, the family need to know exactly what to do.”
Kochie said one of the projects he’s proudest of from his time on Sunrise is his part in pushing through the Organ and Tissue Authority, a governing body overseeing transplants in Australia.
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“That brought home the point that if you’re an organ donor, you let the family know. If something happens, and the emotions that surround that, then it’s already been thought about and it’s an easy answer to give.
“People don’t think clearly amid the emotion of a lost loved one.”
He confirmed he’s an organ donor himself, and added: “If they want to retrieve the organs, if I have a serious turn, I don’t want to be put on life support. It’s a difficult decision, but you should make it rather than leave it up to the family to second guess what you would want.”
Asked if his family were surprised by his decision, he added: “Yes, if I was going to be in a position where the outcome is uncertain, I think ‘everyone is going to die, I’d rather die on my own terms than with a poor lifestyle’.”
Part of that has been planning every aspect of his will and inheritance, and Kochie says it’s particularly important to him because he’s watched people close to him suffer after discovering a surprise in a loved one’s will.
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“It can be, for some people, seen as a bit of power and relevance that they keep over their family. Dangling the estate and saying ‘you be nice to me!’,” he admitted.
Recalling one memory, he said a close friend of his family recently inherited his mother’s entire estate, while his younger sister legally got nothing. However, the will had a clause which stated: “You’ll look after the sister”.
“It was probably a nice sentiment, but incredible naive. They were very close as a family, but the legal costs of trying to unravel all of that was just silly,” he explained.
And it’s not just the financial side that’s important, he said, as speaking to loved ones about your physical possessions can mean just as much once you’re gone. He explained that while you may expect one relative to want something, another may actually prefer it – and it could cause tension after you pass away.
He added: “The worst thing someone can do is, when they die, leave their estate in such a state that it causes tension between the family. That’s the last thing you want to do, you don’t want the family fighting or being offended about something in the will. Just be sensible.”
It’s something Kochie has spoken to his wife Libby about himself, and he explained: “We talk to the kids too, and they know exactly what’s in the will, how it’s divided, we have a family business and there are sensitivities there.”
Kochie said his parents were open to him too, and said his father’s own accounting background meant he was very organised and open about it.
He went on: “I’m lucky I married the world’s best home budgeter in Lib. She runs our family budget. She gives me an allowance!
“I do the investing, but she runs the family budget. We’ve done that most of our family life. I was concerned I was the primary breadwinner and if something ever happened to me, I wanted to make sure my partner is completely comfortable with the finances.”