This Thursday is World Cancer Day.
With our background in health care, World Cancer Day is a significant observance for us. According to the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), 9.6 million people die from cancer every year.
Nearly everyone has been impacted from this disease – either personally or through someone they know and love.
Cancer is a life-changing diagnosis, and it’s one that we hope you never have to go through. It’s important to remember that treatments and diagnostics are continuously improving, and a cancer diagnosis isn’t always worst-case scenario.
Finding out you have cancer often serves as a reminder to make sure all of your affairs are in order. You’ll need to start making important decisions for both you and your loved ones – and quickly. Estate planning helps decrease some of the stress and allows you to focus your attention on your treatment and recovery.
Here are four steps to give your estate plan a check-up after – or before – any life-changing diagnosis:
1. Make sure your will or trust is current. Often, these important documents are created and forgotten. Take time to thoroughly review any documents you already have in place to ensure accuracy. If you don’t have one, it’s time to start formally finalizing your plans. A will or trust created by an attorney is an essential element to estate planning. Without this written, notarized document, you have no direct control over where your assets go.
2. Designate a medical power of attorney – or health care proxy. This legal document gives someone you trust the power to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Make sure to document your medical care requests in an advance healthcare directive so your designee doesn’t have to guess what you want. Additionally, a Health Insurance Portability Accounting Act (HIPAA) release gives them access to your medical information, including speaking with a physician.
3. Determine a power of attorney for financial matters. Similar to a health care proxy, this individual will make financial, legal and tax decisions for you, if needed. It’s also helpful to create a document with instructions and information that would be beneficial for them, such as account passwords and payment information.
4. Review your beneficiaries. Many individuals determine beneficiaries when they set up accounts, but forget to update them when their life circumstances change. Make sure to review your assets – such as retirement accounts, investments and bank accounts – to verify the beneficiaries named are correct.
If you’ve recently received a life-changing diagnosis or if you are just looking to give your estate plan a check-up, deJesus Law Group is here to help. We offer a full array of customized estate planning services to bring your family peace of mind. Please contact us today to set up a meeting to discuss your questions, concerns and estate planning needs.