ESTATE PLANNING WITH A TERMINAL ILLNESS

Finding your way when you or a loved one faces a terminal cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming. While the last thing you might feel like thinking about is money, establishing your financial footing can provide peace of mind.


Here is advice for arranging to cover the costs that come with this challenging journey.

Don’t wait. Regardless of how much time you or your loved one is expected to have, getting finances in order ahead of a crisis is your best strategy. As Forbes points out, even if you have insurance, most people with cancer do not have sufficient insurance to cover their medical expenses. The median cost of cancer therapies is over $700 per month. If you or your loved one will require assisted living, some studies show expenses are typically around $4,300 per month. What’s more, if you are like many others, there are certain priorities for what time is remaining. In order to best move forward, you will need to do some planning.


Budget priorities. Chances are you are having a number of difficult conversations these days. However, opening certain lines of communication can help you prioritize your time, energy, and money. According to a survey conducted jointly by The Economist and the Kaiser Family Foundation, what people want from end-of-life care and what they are likely to get is too often lost in the silence of pain and suffering. Moreover, as the survey points out, “What healthy people think they will want when they are mortally ill may well change when that moment comes.”


To overcome this gap between what you hope for and what may turn to regret, you should discuss your particulars with medical personnel and family members and express your desires. For example, many people undergo difficult and costly treatments during the last portion of their lives. However, suppose you would prefer to focus your efforts on other things such as taking in a grandchild’s birthday, visiting friends, or taking a vacation abroad. In that case, you should talk with your doctors and family members about making that happen, then budget your time and money accordingly.


Establish your plan. Once you have a realistic idea of what expenditures you will incur, you should consider how you will cover those costs. Burial insurance can help pay for funeral arrangements as well as leftover bills and loans. Thinking about end-of-life arrangements now can help your family deal with their grief and handle the funeral costs and logistics.


Settling a life insurance policy is another potential option. There are also non-insurance options available, like tapping into your retirement accounts.


Depending on your preferences for your estate, a reverse mortgage is another potential option. However, the fees associated with reverse mortgages can be hefty, and if you plan to include your home in your estate, you could be short-changing that inheritance.


Give planning permission to family members. After weighing your options and thinking through your situation, you should also consider letting your family legally handle responsibilities on your behalf. This will help your loved ones make important decisions regarding your health and finances should you be unable to make them independently. In order for them to make these decisions, you’ll need a living will and power of attorney.


If you haven’t done so yet, make sure you draw up a living will. Putting things in writing will ensure your wishes are met, and it can help family members avoid stress and confusion. A power of attorney immediately grants your loved ones permission to access your bank accounts, sell stocks, or any other permissions you may allow.


Clear a path for peace. A diagnosis of terminal cancer can be overwhelming for you and your loved ones. While it may be uncomfortable, decisions regarding money and paying for expenses are a necessity. Establishing a financial plan to cover your costs and for the future can provide peace of mind. If you need estate planning services and strategies to preserve your wealth, the Law Firm of Ronald J. Fichera can help. Call 610-768-9255 for a free consultation


RJ Fichera & Associates

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