How to protect your finances during a medical crisis
It’s usually impossible to predict if or when a health crisis is going to strike your family, so when everything is going well and everyone is healthy and happy, preparing for the worst can be the last thing on your mind. But it’s really only wise to let the idea of an accident or a medical crisis slide to the back recesses of your brain when you’ve already done as much as you can to prepare for it, and that means protecting your family’s financial well being.
There are steps you can and should take now to help ensure that you won’t face unnecessary legal fees and extra stress down the road should something unforeseen happen to you or a loved one.
Get a Financial Power of Attorney
This document allows the person you designate the legal authority to pay your bills and your mortgage, file your taxes, collect your Social Security benefits, deal with your bank and brokerage, and even operate your small business on your behalf.1 It means all of those important tasks can still get done – and your finances will remain in tact while you recover – even if you are unable to do it yourself.
Set up a health care proxy
Your health care records are private – and rightly so – but in a crisis it’s critical to have someone who can oversee your medical care and make health decisions for you if you are unable to do so for yourself. This is also known as a durable power of attorney for health care.
Your designated health care proxy can choose your care and treatments with an eye on your financial well being. It’s important to note that even married couples should appoint a health care proxy due to the strict privacy rules and the fact that you may be unable to fulfill your spouse’s wishes (set up in his or her living will) without one.2
Set up a living will
Talking about a living will usually isn’t easy or comfortable, but it’s critical. This document makes it clear how much intervention you want as far as preserving or prolonging your life. Perhaps you don’t want to be resuscitated and kept alive with the aid of a breathing tube and other mechanical aids, all of which can be financially and mentally taxing on your loved ones. Or maybe you do. Those are the kinds of details that will be included in your living will.
Taking these steps and making these important but difficult decisions isn’t always easy. If you feel you need additional guidance and have questions you want answered, we’re here to help.
As a Foresters Financial member, you have access to Legal Link, which means you can consult with a local legal professional for help with a variety of issues including wills, estate planning, home ownership and family law – all at a reduced cost. You can also take advantage of Everyday Money, our toll-free financial helpline that connects you to an accredited counselor who can help answer your questions about your personal financial matters such as debt management and budgeting.
Planning for the possibility of a medical crisis may not be a pleasant task, but if it helps to ensure your family’s financial security and peace of mind, it’s well worth the effort.
For more information, read our article that will help give you a greater understanding of these types of legal matters and documents. You also might want to download our For My Family document, which provides a simple and helpful way to record information about your financial documents and final requests.