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Cancer diagnosis can heighten importance of estate planning

In the United States, approximately 13% of women will receive a diagnosis of breast cancer at some point in their lives. Men also suffer from this disease with an estimated 3,000 diagnosed annually. Though such a serious illness is a frightening prospect, it may only magnify the importance of estate planning. Arizona residents who are facing a serious health crisis are encouraged to attend to this important issue sooner rather than later.

Understandably, a cancer diagnosis is a deeply unsettling experience. While the focus is obviously directed to the appropriate medical treatment, there are other matters that may require attention in the time right after the diagnosis. Waiting until treatment has progressed may make it nearly impossible to fully concentrate on drafting plans that will best reflect one's wishes. In addition, the financial and physical strain of obtaining needed medical care may require that previous plans be revised.

Two important documents to have in place are the power of attorney for financial decisions and a designated health care proxy to help with medical decisions. Along with these two documents, it is suggested that a formal release of medical information is on file to ensure that a trusted individual has access to medical information and that one has a written directive related to the type of medical intervention desired in an emergency situation. The stage of illness and expected prognosis will likely influence the urgency of planning.

If one is facing a shortened life expectancy, there may be a need to engage in tax planning to protect assets. Furthermore, there could also be a need to establish a trust for children. Arizona residents who are facing a serious illness may be overwhelmed with all of the tasks that need to be addressed in a timely manner. An experienced estate planning attorney may provide invaluable assistance in ensuring that one's loved ones are provided for in the manner desired.

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