Finding out you’re nearing the end of your life means a major shift in your perspective. Some of your priorities are bound to change, and money woes are in some ways your smallest concerns, in some ways your biggest ones. Finding your financial footing in the midst of the turmoil associated with a terminal diagnosis can be overwhelming. How do you move forward?
Cancer, money, and stress. Being told you have terminal cancer is devastating enough, but when you don’t know how you will cover the costs of treatment the situation can become extremely stressful. In fact, some studies show worrying about money can greatly reduce quality of life after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis. Not only do you have your care costs to cover, but also you might be concerned about the future circumstances of your family members. Thankfully, there are several options for covering your costs and ensuring your loved ones have provision.
Discuss options. For most of us, talking about death is uncomfortable. Talking about the financial obligations associated with dying is even more uncomfortable, and family members may not know what to say. You may not know, either. However one of the best things you can do is open lines of communication. As experts at Time point out, your loved ones may envision providing one form of care for your end-of-life, while you want another. Discussing things directly can ease both the financial and emotional toll you face. For example, hospital care can mean treating symptoms and extending life at the expense of quality of life. Hospital care is more costly than in-home hospice care, and many people prefer hospice care and taking their final journey in the comfort of home.
Form a realistic picture. Understanding your financial predicament as well as your options can help you formulate a plan. The Chicago Tribune suggests talking with an estate attorney. In this way, you can solidify some goals while you’re still able to make financial decisions. Create a will, get a durable power of attorney, create a health care power of attorney and establish trusts as needed.
Disability benefit. Those facing terminal illness can qualify for expedited processing of Social Security disability benefits. However, it’s important to understand that while processing is accelerated, you still need to cover expenses until those funds are released. It takes five months for disability benefits to start, and you can’t apply until you stop working. In the meantime, there is a period during which you need to find alternative ways to cover expenses.
Free up cash. Finding cash for expenses can be challenging. You should start with any of the typical sources, such as employee benefits, medical insurance, disability insurance, credit, and life insurance policies. Depending on your life insurance policy requirements, those with a terminal cancer diagnosis might be able to sell their policy for a cash payout to cover medical expenses or long-term care. This is referred to as a viatical settlement.
Lifestyle adjustments. Sometimes as you adjust your perspective, it becomes clear it’s time for other lifestyle changes. A home environment more suitable for the care you need can mean being more physically and financially comfortable. Setting up the home on one level can be easier to tend, and it can ease the burden on your caregivers as well. You can alter your existing home to better suit your needs, such as moving your bedroom to a lower level, or another suggestion is to cash in your retirement savings to purchase a different house.
Reach out. There are several organizations, which provide financial assistance when you’re facing a terminal illness. Reach out to those places before you are in a crisis situation. Find out what options are available to you. Also, touch base with area resources such as faith organizations, community foundations and local government agencies. Often there is help available, you just need to ask.
Facing terminal cancer can be overwhelming. Getting your finances in order to cover expenses can ease your mind as well as your circumstances. Ease the stress of the situation with a clear picture for you and your loved ones.