Providing Peace Of Mind
For You And Your Family

Estate planning after a terminal diagnosis

On Behalf of | May 15, 2024 | Estate Planning |

Receiving a terminal diagnosis can be an emotionally devastating experience that profoundly impacts both the individual who is ill and their loved ones. In the midst of processing such news, the importance of estate planning cannot be understated. Engaging in estate planning for the first time – or updating an existing plan – can help to ensure that one’s affairs are in order. 

While taking the time to make this effort in the wake of a terminal diagnosis can feel like wasting particularly precious time, doing so can help to ensure that an ill individual’s wishes are honored after they’re gone, and that their interests are safeguarded if their illness progresses to the point of incapacity. Without estate planning documents in place, the state will decide how these matters are resolved. 

Updating or creating a will 

A will directs the distribution of a testator’s assets according to their wishes upon their death. For someone who has received a terminal diagnosis, it’s crucial to either create a will if one doesn’t already exist or review and update an existing will. This process includes specifying beneficiaries for various assets, choosing an executor to manage the estate and making any necessary changes to reflect current relationships and intentions.

Establishing powers of attorney and an advance medical directive 

A power of attorney (POA) allows a trusted person to make decisions on an ill individual’s behalf, should they become incapacitated. There are typically two types of POA: one for healthcare and one for financial decisions. A healthcare POA will enable a designated agent to make medical decisions according to one’s preferences. Similarly, a financial POA ensures that one’s financial obligations and decisions are handled as one would wish. 

By contrast, advance medical directives, including living wills, specify an individual’s wishes regarding medical treatment. A medical POA must honor these stated wishes, and only make decisions that extend past any specifications within the incapacitated individual’s living will. 

Estate planning after a terminal diagnosis is a responsible undertaking that can help to ensure that an ill individual’s interests are honored both as their diagnosis evolves, and after they’re gone. It is, bluntly, time well spent.