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How to Prepare Financially When Facing a Terminal Illness


Learning that you or a loved one have a terminal illness isn’t easy. There will be a range of emotions you must cope with, and unfortunately, plenty of administrative, medical and even legal decisions that will be need to be made.

Being prepared and educated on what you or your family member might face can help make the otherwise difficult decision-making process more manageable.

Get educated

The first thing you should do when facing almost any financial issue is to research and know your options. Speaking with lawyers, doctors, financial planners, or end-of-life consultants can actually be a comforting experience, and it gets your administrative issues out of the way as early as possible.

Additionally, having basic administrative items taken care of early is one of the best ways to avoid the financial traps that can happen at this point in life as well. Fidelity Investments estimated that the out-of-pocket medical expenses for an average 65-year-old couple last year were over $220,000. That’s a large sum for anyone, but the best way to combat costs is by planning properly with expert advice and having the affairs that you can control in order. This isn’t the time to be dealing with lapsing insurance or lost or incomplete financial documents.

Set priorities and goals

Make sure you know what you want out of this time in your life, financially or even socially. Speak with family members about what you would like to do and how you would like their support for what you are trying to accomplish. Speak with doctors about treatment options that could allow you to reach any goals you want to set.

And determine how you will approach the situation as a whole. Financial goals might include ensuring you can afford expensive healthcare options or maybe securing loved ones financially.

Paperwork and legalities

It is extremely important to have the proper legal and administrative documents filled out so you may concentrate on your final weeks in peace and minimize any burdens or financial responsibilities left to your loves ones.

Locate all of your insurance documents and make copies of important information. Develop an “advanced directive,” which puts your specific requests about future healthcare in writing, and set up a durable power of attorney, which allows someone to act as a proxy for you in case you cannot act for yourself. A living will is also an option to consider, as it lists what treatments you may or may not want to have administered.

This is also an opportunity to provide for funeral costs and make burial or cremation decisions so that your family is not left asking what you would have wanted.

Making these arrangements will give you the peace of mind of knowing that you’re prepared and cared for, and it will help you face the illness head on with the support of your friends and family.

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