Estate Planning is Especially Important for Cancer Patients

Estate planning is important for everyone, but can be especially important for cancer patients.

Dealing with a diagnosis of cancer is a life-changing event, for the patient and the patient’s loved ones.  A big part of getting and staying healthy involves decreasing stress. From the  first day that the diagnosis is confirmed, or suspected, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made on a regular basis.   Estate planning can help reduce a lot of that stress.

Many people think of “estate planning” as the creation and signing of a Last Will and Testament.  But a full estate plan involves much more than that.  It also includes:

  1. Creating medical power of attorney documents and directives to physicians that appoint a trusted person or persons to speak for the patient if he or she is unable to do so, even temporarily.
  2. Specifying the patient’s wishes about medical care and treatment, in writing so that the loved ones do not have to try to guess what the patient would want if a quick decision about treatment is needed.
  3. Review of all assets, including those assets that are not included in the will because they have beneficiaries already set up (retirement accounts, investments, or bank accounts with survivorship, for example).
  4. Discussion of a plan and drafting of one or more powers of attorney so that a trusted person can handle day-to-day personal business, or a business owned by the patient.
  5. Helping the patient make a list of instructions and organize information so that business can be taken care of while he or she concentrates on health.

This planning can help the patient and the family concentrate on treatment and recovery rather than worrying about “business”.  It is quite common for patients who are ill to worry about their families, employees and co-workers.  Having a plan in place can help the patient to realize that he or she can now put all of that aside and concentrate on recovery.

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