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Managing Your Medical Care: Breast Cancer: Once A Treatment Decision Is Made

Execute or Update Legal Documents To Keep You In Control

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To Keep Control Of Your Medical Care

 Everyone should consider what they want to happen in case you need medical care and become unable to speak for your self. While something could go wrong while undergoing treatment, this suggestion is only partially about those risks. The reality is that every moment is a blessing and we never know what will happen. The word "accident" refers to the unexpected. And don't forget Terri Shiavo, the Florida woman  who ended up on a respirator for years whose situation went to the U.S. Congress. She was a young woman in her 20's with no medical history when she collapsed.

Documents to make your wishes happen in the physical areas are known as Advance Healthcare Directives. Documents about your wishes if your become mentally challenged are known as Advance Directive For Mental Health. Both types of directives are free, easy to obtain and easy to execute.

If you do not have an Advance Healthcare Directive or Advance Directive For Mental Health, consider executing one or more. 

If you already have an advance directive:

  • Check it to be sure it is up-to-date with your wishes. The last thing needed is a lengthy, expensive delay while people argue over whether you still would want what you put in writing. 
  • You can indicate that the wishes expressed in the document are still your current wishes by dating and signing the document again.

Studies indicate that even with Advance Directives in place, patients' wishes are often ignored. Survivorship A to Z provides information on how to enforce an Advance Directive.

For more information, including how to choose someone to act on your behalf, see Advance Healthcare Directives 101 and How To Enforce A Living Will And Other Advance Directives.

To Keep Control Of Your Assets

To control what happens to your assets in case you die, execute a Will - or check your existing will to be sure it is up-to-date. If you don't have your own valid will, your assets will pass according to the terms of the will established by the state in which you life (this is known as "intestate.")  Wills do not have to be expensive. They may even be free.

You won't die just because you execute a will. See: Wills 101


  • While you’re at it, consider writing an ethical will. It tells your family information you want passed on. 
  • If you have substantial assets, speak with a tax expert or attorney and do estate planning. If you are a small business owner, click here.

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