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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.

Newly Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Stages 3 - 4

Planning Ahead

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For more information about each of these subjects, see the documents in "To Learn More."

It may be the last subject you want to think about right now, but your diagnosis is a reminder that every one of us should think through what could happen "just in case" - and then take the necessary steps.

We cover the subject in the document known as Planning Ahead. When things settle, we highly recommend reading the information gathered there.

For now, at least consider the following.

  • Every treatment has risks. The risk that you will become unable to speak for yourself is likely minimal. However, the resulting impact on you and your finances could be huge. Consider what you would want to happen medically if you become unable to speak for yourself. Think about what you would not want to happen such as being kept alive for years on a machine. Then make sure what you desire happens by executing documents known as "Advance Healthcare Directives" (or more simply as "Advance Directives.")  Advance Directives are available for free for each state.
    • Executing an Advance Directive does not mean that it will be needed. These documents are merely a means for you to stay in control. Also, executing these documents can help ease the anxiety that accompanies an impending treatment.
    • One advance directive to consider is a Living Will. In general, a Living Will states what you do, and do not, want to happen. If Terry Schiavo had executed a LIving Will, there would not have been a court battle and wasted years hooked to a machine.
    • Another document to consider is a Health Care Power of Attorney. It appoints a person to act on your behalf (a "Proxy"). A Proxy can make a decision in the gray areas that frequently occur. A Proxy can also push for enforcement of your wishes. (f you appoint a Proxy, be sure to ask him or her to read Survivorship A to Z information about how to enforce an Advance Directive.)
    • NOTE: If you are going to check in to a hospital: Expect to be asked by the admissions person whether you have a Living Will and other advance directives. If you do not, you will be offered the forms the hospital uses. Even if you do have a Living Will, consider creating a duplicate on the hospital forms. In the event of an emergency, staff will know what to do if you use the hospital form. If you use your own form, staff may have to seek an opinion about the correct meaning of your document from the legal department which can slow things down considerably.
  • What would happen to your children if you can't take care of them while you are still alive, or if you die.
  • What would happen to your assets if you die. 
    • At the least, everyone needs to have a Will - no matter how little or much you own.
    • Check all documents with beneficiaries on them (such as brokerage accounts) to be sure: The beneficiary you want is listed. If there is more than one beneficiary, the split between them is clear.
    • Consider writing an Ethical Will - a document that passes on to your heirs such information as what you think they should know about how to live life and family history.

Advance directives are free. Wills are not expensive - and can be free.

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