When cancer strikes, legal issues can stress out everyone involved and these concerns are closely linked to financial worries.
Consider things like who will be making health-care decisions when you are no longer able to, and who will be responsible for your children, or managing your money. Be proactive and rather have the difficult conversations now.
Step 1 – Are you coveredTo choose the right kind of cover, always go for the best cover that still fits your budget. Do you have plans in place for the short, medium and long term?
This includes, but is not limited to, cover for:
- Major injury, e.g. income protection and disability cover.
- Serious illness, e.g. dread disease cover.
- Death, e.g. life cover (whether you have dependents or not)
- Child’s education, e.g. education plan or child savings plan.
- Property, e.g. life cover to cover your home loan, should you pass away.
- Retirement, e.g. company pension or retirement annuity.
Step 2 – The ABC of planning for the worst To see what you need to cover financially and understand what must be included in your legal provision, know your ABC:
- Ensure you understand your needs and protect these with cover that you can afford under ARE YOU COVERED? above. Get advice from a trusted financial services provider if you need help deciding.
- Add your regular monthly expenses.
- Make provision for something like a savings plan, a tax-free savings account, an investment like a unit trust or fixed deposit to cover unexpected expenses.
Step 3 – Things to remember Life changes
Amend your cover and nominated beneficiaries as you go through significant life events – getting married, buying a house, starting a family, retiring, etc. For example, decisions about the guardianship of your children are crucial. Re-evaluate these choices throughout your lifetime.
Power of attorney
In the event of a cancer diagnosis or serious illness it’s a good idea to nominate a trusted person and give them power of attorney. This means they can represent you or act on your behalf in private, business or legal matters, if you are unable to do so. Sign the document while you are able to communicate and think clearly. It will solve legal problems for your loved ones later on.
There are two types:
- A living will sets out end-of-life medical care if a patient is unable to communicate. As the name suggests, it has no power after death.
- A regular will allows you to document your wishes with regards to matters such as your finances and what happens with your estate. Appoint an executor to carry out your wishes. Think carefully about who you appoint and make sure they understand what you want.
Step 4 – Don’t delay
Speak to your insurer or your financial advisor and speak to a lawyer, especially if you have property, investments, shares, business interests or other assets.
There are free services available to South Africans, such as Truth About Money - www.truthaboutmoney.co.za - to assist with a will, winding up an estate, etc.
Most of the major banks offer trust and fiduciary services and will store your will if you nominate a bank-appointed executor.