Cancer – the dreaded disease that has beaten even the minds of the best scientists. Cancer diagnosis isn’t a death sentence, but many times, the prognosis of patients is poor. Some patients live for a few months while others survive with the cancer for years.
Some families see cancer as a taboo, a subject they talk about in hushed tones. This shouldn’t be the case
While cancer patients need all the love and care, it is no surprise that many caregivers forget that they have an estate to plan. Let us look at how to plan your estate after cancer diagnosis.
Metastasis Leaves You Incapacitated
For cancer patients, the risk of cancer metastasis is high, and the results include poor cognitive ability, which means that the person cannot be able to make sound decisions on their own. According to this survey, every sixth death in the world is due to cancer. It is a reality – we need to be prepared when it strikes.
Even without metastasis, planning your estate when you are weakened by the illness is not a good idea.
You can avoid these scenarios if you use the diagnosis as a catalyst to plan your estate and follow a few rules.
Key Questions about Estate Planning
When you are diagnosed with cancer, the following questions need to go through your mind:
When I die:
- What should happen to the property that I own?
- Who do I entrust to take care of my kids or dependents?
- Is there another person that I want to take care of?
If I’m unable to make decisions on my own:
- Who do I want to make financial and legal decisions for me?
- Who will make my medical decisions for me?
Creating the Perfect Estate Plan after Cancer Diagnosis
You need to execute different steps to achieve the best plan for your estate:
Define Your Estate
You need to list down all the property that you own at the time of your passing on. These include both physical and digital assets. Make sure you list them down and for each, show where they are located and in whose name they are titled.
After you have a comprehensive inventory of the things that you own, the next step is to determine the worth of each asset. To do this, you can enlist the services of a professional valuation expert.
Some items have sentimental value, which means you might want it to remain in the family.
The final step in defining the estate is to show how the property is owned. There is more ways than one when it comes to property ownership:
- Individual ownership – this is when you own the property fully. You can make decisions on who gets the property without consulting anyone.
- Joint ownership – this is where you own the property jointly with someone else.
- By contract – the ownership of the property is bound by a contract. You have full ownership only when alive, but when you pass, the property is given to a beneficiary.
Know Your Dependents
When setting up the plan, you need to determine who depends on you, for instance children with special needs, minors etc. after you know your dependents, you should consider what they need and how to care for them when you are gone.
If you have small kids or parents that are incapacitated, then you need to identify a guardian to take care of them. The guardian manages the estate on behalf of the beneficiary.
Know the Documents that You Need
Every estate plan is unique, which means that the documents you need might not be the same for everyone. When determining the documents that you need, it is essential that you consider the estate planning rules of each state.
The main documents that you will consider are trusts, power of attorney and wills. Talk to a qualified estate planning attorney to understand the differences and then guide you on what you need. The lawyer also helps you draft the documents depending on your needs.
Advance Health Care Directive
Cancer diagnosis means a lot of things. For some, it means that sooner or later they might not be able to state clearly what they need to be done. This is why you need to have a legal document that tells your family what medical attention you need when you become unable to state your wishes clearly.
One of the clauses in the directive is when to stop medical care when treatment might not be the best option.
Cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence, because we have seen patients that have lived for many years with the illness. However, you need to know that the illness makes you weak, and you need to take steps to make sure your loved ones’ future is secure.