Putting your house in order
When youmove to a newtown or even a newhouse, you want to get settled and organized right away so you can explore the neighborhood with less stress.
A cancer diagnosis is very similar to a major move, and the sooner you canmake basic legal plans and put them into place, the more comfortable you’ll be. You’ll have done everything in your power to look toward the future so you can live each day to the fullest right now. Putting your “house” in order as such is critical.
The top three legal documents you need to create or update all have to do with making sure your wishes about medical care are made known and carried out. These documents will make it much easier for your loved ones and medical team to do what you want without struggling on their own to make a choice.
If you don’t have these documents in place, and haven’t told your doctor who you want to act as your “agent” or voice in medical decisions, the doctor is legally bound to go to these individuals for decisions:
1) your spouse, 2) your domestic partner, 3) your adult sons and daughters, 4) adult brothers and sisters, 5) grandparents and 6) an adult friend who is familiar with your wishes.
Power of Attorney
This is a legal document that allows you to choose a person whowill have the power to act in your place, with your voice. The person you name will be legally permitted to take care of important matters for you— for example, paying bills, managing investments and directing your medical care — if you are unable to do so yourself.
This is a legal document that spells out what you want to happen if you are terminally ill and can’t speak for yourself. It states whether or not you would accept artificial life-prolonging treatments. It also names a specific person to speak to the medical teamon your behalf tomake sure your wishes are carried out. This person is often called your “agent.” Remember to discuss your wishes with that person and make sure he or she is comfortable with the job.
Questions to think about:
• How do I feel about long-term life support, if needed?
• How would I feel about receiving a blood transfusion?
• How would I feel about being artificially fed fluids and food? • Would I choose to have CPR, depending on its predicted success?
Standard written will
This spells out how your belongings will be distributed after your death, and names a person to be the executor of the will, to make sure that your wishes are carried out.
• You have the right to make your own health care decisions
• You have the right to all of the information you need to make those decisions
• You can make some decisions in advance