Health and Wealth Planning After a Shocking Medical Diagnosis
When receiving a shocking medical diagnosis and hearing you may have a limited life expectancy, the first step is organizing your priorities based on your new circumstance. Understanding both your plan of care, including the next steps and key decision points, as well as your existing assets and income picture in terms of ownership and survivor benefits, is critical before taking any other actions like writing a will, trust, etc.
From a health standpoint, think about the following:
- What does the plan of care to treat you look like?
- Where will the plan of care happen?
- Who may need to be involved?
- What health changes can you anticipate?
- Who in your family, friends, or the medical community will be in a decision-making role along with you?
Ultimately, when you organize and think about making healthcare decisions, it’s about developing a hierarchy of priorities. For example, the most important thing for you may be to stay home no matter what, or the most important thing may be to stay with your spouse wherever the diagnosis takes you.
Another place to organize yourself after a shocking new diagnosis is to start gathering information about all your finances:
- What are all of your assets, including property and investments?
- What money is coming in (Social Security, pension, investment income, etc.), and what money is going out in expenses? It may be helpful to organize this information into a cash flow statement.
- How could your cash flow change based on the plan of care your medical professionals recommend?
- How are your assets (investment accounts, IRAs, real estate) titled?
- Who is authorized to make decisions on your accounts or real estate if you are less able or after you pass away?
- Is the person you may have chosen decades ago still capable and willing to make decisions when you become less able or after you pass away?
Once you have organized your healthcare plan and your assets, identified your new priorities, and verified the person responsible for taking the baton when you are less able, only then is it time to set up your legal documents to reflect these priorities and new circumstances.
The final step is to share all of this with your successor decision-makers, the ones who will take the baton when the time comes, to execute decisions based on what you have outlined as most important to you.
Want to keep learning about what to do after a shocking medical diagnosis? Here are some additional resources.
- Mayo Clinic – 8 tips for coping with a serious diagnosis
- WebMD – Ways to Conquer a Scary Diagnosis
- University of Washington Medicine – How to Support Someone After a Difficult Diagnosis
- Tufts Medical Center – How to handle bad news from your doctor
- Wealth of Geeks – Estate Planning: What to Do After a Negative Medical Report
- Financial Planning When Someone Has Alzheimer’s Disease
- Financial Planning When You Have Parkinson’s Disease