Receiving a terminal illness diagnosis can be both devastating and frightening. Initial reactions include making an emotional adjustment and sharing the news with family and friends. After the initial shock wears off, the need for practical arrangements must be addressed to protect the person’s dignity, property, and final wishes. Below are four ways to manage personal assets and bequests for peace of mind and family security.

Prepare an Advance Healthcare Directive

When a person’s health deteriorates, family members want to know the loved one’s preferences for medical care in case the person becomes unresponsive or unable to communicate specific directives. A written and signed advance healthcare directive outlines clear steps the family should follow if certain conditions should develop.

Confirm Your Life Insurance Policy

A life insurance policy should be reviewed periodically by everyone. Someone who is diagnosed with a terminal illness will need to check the policy to see how it will apply to the new circumstances. The insurance agent can explain the policy in detail and answer questions that you or a family member might have. It is best to do this ahead of time to avoid confusion or misunderstandings later.

Arrange a Funeral or Memorial Plan

Some people choose to prepay their funeral so that everything is taken care of before the time comes. Others arrange the funeral service or a memorial service to spare loved ones the necessity of doing so when feelings of grief and loss run high. Decisions can be made in advance about the selected funeral home, viewing times or cremation preference, auxiliary services at a place of worship or gravesite, and the grave marker or headstone with engraved information. Having all these arrangements made so the family does not have to do it helps to facilitate a smooth, logical plan rather than a hurried, emotional response.

Update Your Last Will and Testament

Most people update their last will and testament at least a couple of times over their lifespan. Circumstances change, and so do assets and debts, so a new will may be needed occasionally to address evolving situations. Consulting wills and estates lawyers is very helpful when preparing the last will and testament. Attorneys who specialize in this area of law can provide helpful information to guide the preparation of this important document.

Although a terminal illness diagnosis is often a devastating revelation, the lingering effects can be somewhat mitigated by taking prudent action in preparation for death. You can help assure your own preferences are met, while also securing your family’s financial stability.

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