Receiving a cancer diagnosis is a defining moment in your life, when you know that things are not going to be quite the same for you in the future. It is also a time where you will experience a variety of emotions and it is natural to worry about what lies ahead for you.
What you don’t want to happen is to find that your emotional strain is further compounded by financial concerns, so it makes a lot of sense to take the time needed to re-evaluate your financial situation and arrange help where you think that it may be needed.
To a certain degree, the cancer you are diagnosed with and the severity of the condition will dictate what level of financial planning you have to consider. If you receive a diagnosis for a cancer such as Mesothelioma, the long-term survival rates are generally poor at the moment but there are examples of survivors living well beyond their timespan, so your plans and actions should reflect both a positive and negative scenario, which will help to remove an element of stress and worry that will use up energy that could be best used elsewhere, given your situation.
Legal aspects to consider
Although you may find it difficult to face up to the challenge of making plans for when you are no longer in a capacity to act for yourself or how your surviving family will be provided for, it is important to tackle the legal aspects of your situation, so everyone around you can concentrate on carrying out your wishes without any complications.
You should make sure that your will is up to date so that your wishes are honored, but you should also consider arranging a living will, which formally records your wishes regarding the measures that you would like to be taken in order to extend your life for as long as possible. A medical power of attorney would also be a good idea, as this will empower a person you trust with the legal capacity to make medical decisions for you, once you are unable to do so yourself.
Another legal document that is worth putting in place is a durable power of attorney, which will allow you to nominate someone else to manage your financial affairs if and when the point comes where you became incapacitated and unable to manage by yourself.
Putting your finances in order
Once you have tackled the legal aspects that need addressing in view of your cancer diagnosis, it is also advisable to try and put your finances in order, so you are as prepared as possible for the changes in your personal and financial situation that you most likely be facing.
Try to consolidate your money, by listing all the different bank accounts, investment and retirement accounts that you may have, and then either arrange to have the money brought together with the help of maybe your financial services provider. If that is not feasible, at least a list of what you have and where it is will help anyone that you have entrusted with your financial affairs to sort matters out with the minimum of fuss.
Try to find out whether you might be entitled to some financial assistance from the government. Depending on the nature and extent of your illness, you may well qualify for financial help from either Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.
There are two aspects regarding life assurance that are worth looking into. The first would be to see if you are able to buy more life insurance, as although a terminal illness will probably preclude you from buying a new individual policy, you might find that your employer’s group coverage allows you an opportunity to do so during their open enrollment period.
Ask for advice on this aspect of life insurance cover if you have an employer’s life insurance scheme in place, also check whether your existing policy actually has a guaranteed insurability feature that will let you buy additional cover regardless of your current health position.
Another aspect of life insurance that well be relevant to you if your illness is considered to be terminal, is the possibility that your insurance provider might be able to offer an advance on your life insurance payout, which will give your finances a welcome boost and it will hopefully mean that money then becomes one less thing to worry about.
Paul Kraus is considered the longest living documented mesothelioma survivor in the world. Over the last 30 years, Kraus has worked as an author and educator. He has written several books including the best-selling mesothelioma book– “Surviving Mesothelioma and Other Cancers: A Patient’s Guide.”