Attorneys, physicians and health care administrators are in the habit of asking their clients whether they have a living will or advanced directive in place. These professionals are all too aware of the consequences when people do not plan ahead for the possibility of an accident or illness, but they are also aware that most people assume that nothing is going to happen for them, and that they can put off these end-of-life decisions until they are elderly.
For those who have been diagnosed with cancer, this kind of procrastination is a luxury that they cannot afford. Depending upon the cancer diagnosis that they receive and the prognosis they’ve been given, the end of their life becomes much less of an abstraction and much more of a reality that they need to deal with. Though end-of-life decisions can be difficult, taking the time to think about it not only gives you the comfort of knowing that your wishes will be followed, but also the peace of mind of knowing that you have relieved your loved ones of having to make uninformed, painful decisions on your behalf.
Most people who embark on end-of-life decision making aren’t sure where to begin. This is normal and to be expected: It is a frightening and overwhelming thing to imagine yourself unable to speak for yourself. Experts suggest that you begin by evaluating your own values and opinions regarding which medical treatments you find acceptable and when you believe that they should be discontinued. You also want to consider who among those closest to you you want to have make decisions and speak for you when you are no longer able to. Other questions that need to be answered include:
When it comes to the financial decisions that need to be made, the easiest and smartest thing to do is to seek assistance from an attorney who will be able to guide you through the process. They will explain and help you prepare all of the documents that you need to have in place to address all open questions. If you do not wish to hire an attorney, your local hospital or health care provider may be able to provide you with the forms, and they are also available on a variety of websites for those who wish to handle it on their own.
The documents that you need include a will and a durable power of attorney for financial affairs. You may also want to make sure that they or someone else who you trust knows where all of your insurance policies, life insurance policies, and all other important documents are kept, including any instructions that you have provided regarding your preferences for after your death.
Medical decisions for end-of-life treatment should also be documented in order to prevent family members from having to become involved or make choices on your behalf. Having a living will or advanced directive prevents arguments and angst, and ensures that things will be done the way that you feel most comfortable with.
An advanced directive not only provides you with a voice regarding your own care and treatment when you are no longer able to speak for yourself, but also gives you the opportunity to name the person who you trust to have your durable power of attorney for health care. This person will deal with all medical decisions, and is obligated to adhere to the instructions that you provide. They will have access to your medical records in order to ensure that they are making appropriate decisions.
A living will provides instructions specifically to health care professionals regarding specific circumstances that may come into play near the end of your life. These directions are specifically regarding life-prolonging or life sustaining medical treatments. It may be included within the advanced directive or it may be a separate document.
At Fifth Season Financial, we understand the challenges of seeking out financial help for cancer patients, whether its for yourself or a loved one with cancer. We know unexpected financial expenses occur for end-of-life care, various products, and lifestyle changes required for a patient facing a difficult medical diagnosis can be expensive. We offer a practical solution that can provide large-sum advances from individual’s life insurance policies, all without incurring further debt and still allowing funds to remain for beneficiaries. Contact us today to learn more!
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