We’ve said that estate planning is important for everyone. However, it can be especially important for cancer patients. While some believe estate planning is only for the wealthy, that’s not the case: it’s an important part of everyone’s overall financial and legal strategy.

The Santa Maria Times’ recent article on this subject asks, “What is the importance of estate planning, advance health care directives?” As the article explains, estate planning is just having a plan in place that addresses how you’d like to see your estate—including assets, pensions, real estate, and more—distributed, in the event of incapacitation or death.

First, you should create the necessary legal documents and a clear financial plan. A cancer diagnosis is a life-changing event for the patient and her family. A significant component of getting and staying healthy is eliminating stress. From the moment you first receive the diagnosis, there are critical decisions that must be made on a regular basis. Estate planning can help to decrease much of that stress.

Even if you set up your estate planning years ago, your documents should be reviewed periodically, especially after a life-changing event like a cancer diagnosis.

Another important document is the Five Wishes Living Will. This document states your personal, emotional, and spiritual needs—along with your medical wishes. Originally created by the American Bar Association’s Commission on Law and Aging and experts in end-of-life care, this document lets you specify your wishes, if you become seriously ill. It can be a real gift for those you love.

Your complete estate plan may include the following:

  • A medical power of attorney and advance directives to physicians that designate a trusted person to speak for you, if you are unable to do so, even temporarily;
  • A written document specifying your wishes about medical care and treatment;
  • A review of all assets, including retirement accounts, investments, or bank accounts;
  • A power of attorney for financial decisions; and
  • A list of instructions and organizing information, so you can focus on recovery.

With an estate plan in place, along with careful planning and support, a cancer patient can achieve a feeling of well-being, even while confronting this life-threatening illness.

Reference: Santa Maria Times (February 18, 2019) “What is the importance of estate planning, advance health care directives?”