Doing Some Legal Planning Can Bring Holiday Peace of Mind

Legal Paperwork

The holiday season is just around the corner. It can be a bittersweet time if you or a loved one is dealing with a malignant disease. It’s often difficult to enjoy family festivities when you’re worried that you won’t be together next year. Taking a little time to plan for the future can provide greater peace of mind.

A diagnosis of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease is enough to dampen holiday cheer. But there are ways to reduce financial worries and concerns about what your family will do once you are gone.

If you’re too worried to find any joy this season, talk to your health care provider’s patient services team. They may be able to recommend resources to help you manage stress this time of year.

If you are confused about legal issues like receiving compensation for your injuries or getting too sick to manage your affairs, keep reading. Simply deciding to talk with someone about your options for financial assistance and estate planning can help you worry less about the future.

Plan Now and Worry Less

A few years ago, my family received a shock during the holiday season. Shortly before Thanksgiving, our family doctor told my mom that she might have a tumor. He suggested she see a specialist. She saw some specialists over the holidays and discovered that she had cancer. We wondered if it would be our last holiday together.

My mom had a lot to worry about – medical expenses, her family’s well-being and most importantly her health. She couldn’t have surgery until February, so there wasn’t much she could do about her situation except worry.

But she found ways to empower herself and worry less. She couldn’t rid herself of all of her worries, but she found ways to avoid feeling helpless.

My mom decided to make a list of affairs to get in order before her surgery. Simply making that decision helped her worry less and enjoy the rest of the holiday season.

After the holidays, she spoke with loved ones about the type of health care she wanted. She also executed her will. Making those plans gave her more peace of mind to focus on several months of treatment.

The next holiday season was our last together. Thanks to her early planning, she was able to enjoy her time with us instead of doing things like making a will. Her family was also able to enjoy her. Thanks to her planning, we didn’t need to have a difficult conversation about her final wishes.

I’m still grateful for our time together that year.

You may not want or find it necessary to do everything my mom did, but you can look for simple ways to empower yourself. A patient support group can offer suggestions.

Keep reading for information on legal resources that may assist you.

Coping with Financial Worries

It’s hard to stop worrying about how your family will cope with medical bills and loss of income. If financial worries dampen your holiday cheer, consider making a financial plan. Financial obstacles can take time to overcome. You may not be able to solve money problems overnight, but simply deciding to seek assistance can ease your mind.

Remember that you may be able to receive financial compensation for your asbestos-related injuries. Consider making an appointment with a mesothelioma attorney to discuss your injuries and legal options. Reaching out to someone for assistance can provide the hope you need to make your holiday brighter.

Estate Planning and Legal Papers

It’s difficult to think about incapacitation and end-of-life issues. But tackling these issues is how some people, like my mom, deal with fear. Preparing a few legal documents sometimes can help patients and caregivers avoid major burdens during an already challenging time. If you are ready to address these issues but are worried about where to begin, obtaining general legal information is a good place to start.

Here are a few legal documents that can help you plan ahead:

  • A Financial Power of Attorney: This document names someone as your agent or attorney-in-fact. Your Agent should be someone you trust to make financial or legal decisions on your behalf if you become too sick to handle your own affairs. A Financial Power of Attorney usually gives your agent authority to do things like bank, pay taxes or apply for government benefits on your behalf.

  • A Health Care Power of Attorney: A Health Care Power of Attorney is similar to a Financial Power of Attorney, except, instead of financial issues, it concerns your health. This document names an agent or attorney-in-fact to make your health care decisions if you are physically or mentally unable to make them for yourself. It can also give your Agent authority to communicate with your doctors, access and release your medical records, and make sure you receive the type of care you desire.

    (In some states, you can also include a statement of  Advanced Directives, sometimes called a living will, your health care power of attorney. An advanced directive provides specific instructions about what type of care and what kind of life-saving procedures (such as CPR) you wish to receive.)

  • A Will: This document gives instructions for handling your estate after your death. It names an executor to manage your final affairs like paying debts and distributing your property to your loved ones. If you die without a will, the court determines how to divide your property. If you have minor children, you may also be able to name a guardian for them in your will.

Simply learning more about what you can do to plan ahead may ease some of your worries. Consider asking your health care provider’s patient services team for more information and resources. Also bookmark this blog so you can read future posts about how powers of attorney, wills, and other documents can give you greater peace of mind.

If you decide to start planning your estate now, it is always best to consult a lawyer to determine which legal documents best serve your needs. If you cannot afford an attorney, your local bar association, health care provider or a group like the American Association of Retired Person (AARP) may be able to help you find free or low cost legal help.

Additional Help Is Available

It is possible to ease your mind without overwhelming yourself this time of year. Simply making a decision to get more information or to get assistance with the topics mentioned in this blog could ease some pressure. Remember to contact your medical provider’s patient services team for more ideas and tips on reducing holiday stress.

You can also contact our Patient Advocates for information about medical treatments options and other resources. Read our blog about forming a Support Team and the stories in our Survivor Insight Series. Remember that you are not alone and help is available.

We wish you a holiday season filled with hope and support.


Karen Marshall has more than 17 years of legal experience and is an attorney with The Peterson Firm. She has been contributing to The Mesothelioma Center since 2011 and writes about asbestos-related legal issues and blogs for Asbestos.com.

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