How to Handle an Unexpected Serious Illness

Serious illnesses can sometimes come without warning. You may feel that you are in perfect health and then receive a diagnosis of a serious or potentially life-threatening condition.

Your first priority should be getting medical treatment, but your estate plan should also be an important consideration. If you don’t have certain legal documents in place, you may lose control over your medical treatment decisions and what happens to your family and property.

Incapacity Planning

A critical illness could lead to a period of incapacity. If you haven’t already created the following documents, do so right away:

  • Medical power of attorney. Give a person you trust the power to make medical decisions on your behalf.
  • Financial power of attorney. Give an agent the ability to pay your bills, sell assets, and make other financial decisions.
  • Advanced healthcare directive or living will. Decide if there are certain situations where you don’t want to receive life-extending treatments. Situations not covered by this document will be left to your medical power of attorney.
  • HIPAA authorization. Make sure your loved ones can get access to your private medical information, if needed.

If you have these documents in place, review them to make sure you don’t need any modifications.

If you lose some amount of mental capacity, you may no longer be able to sign a legally binding document. Get these documents in place before that happens to make sure you keep as much control over these important decisions as possible. If you don’t name a power of attorney, your loved ones may need to go to court to become appointed guardians, which costs time and money and is out of your control.

Estate Planning

You should also make sure your estate plan is up-to-date. Your will should be reviewed carefully. If you have minor children, make sure you and your child’s other parent have decided who should be named as guardians if both parents are gone. 

You may have other estate planning needs, such as a revocable living trust. Once again, be aware that you won’t be able to change these documents if your cognitive abilities become seriously affected by your illness. The sooner you can get these documents drafted or updated and signed, the better.

Set up a consultation with an estate planning attorney to discuss how you can keep control over your estate plan and prepare for a period of incapacitation.

King Law Offices is a full-service law firm with an outstanding team of professionals who work diligently, creatively and compassionately on behalf of our clients each day.  We serve the Upstate of South Carolina and Western North Carolina.  Call 888-748-KING (5464) today for a consultation.

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What Are Durable and Healthcare Powers of Attorney?
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