Smart Money: Legal strategies when facing a major health event

What you and your family need to know

Receiving a health diagnosis or learning that you need to undergo major surgery can cause substantial disruption in your day-to-day life. During this time, the last thing you may want to think about is estate planning.

Although you may have many things going through your head at the moment, now is a crucial time to make sure your estate plan is in order. Proactive planning can help put your mind at ease and let you focus on your treatment. Let’s review your estate plan together to make sure each of the following important components is up to date and reflects your current goals and wishes.

The attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. offer guidance and advice to clients in every area of estate planning.


Healthcare documents

Your healthcare documents include your powers of attorney, advance directives, and HIPAA authorization. These documents let you appoint someone to receive information about your medical condition and to even help you make medical decisions if you’re unable to do so. You probably already know which of your loved ones you’d like at the helm if a situation arises. But whoever you’ve chosen needs to be given the explicit authority to act so that you can rest easy knowing they’ll be there to make decisions if you need them.

Financial power of attorney 

While a healthcare agent or proxy can make decisions on your behalf in medical scenarios, a financial power of attorney concerns your money, investments, bills, and taxes. Although it relates to different decisions, it is just as important a designation. Having this document in place can give a trusted person (such as a spouse, child, or friend) the authority to help you with your finances and property so these issues don’t have to be a distraction while you focus on your health.

Updated trusts

An up-to-date and fully-funded trust lets you focus on your health while your successor trustee handles the affairs of your trust, which could include most, if not all of your assets. In this case, you’ll still receive the benefit of your trust but your successor trustee will manage the trust on your behalf. If there’s not sufficient time to fully fund a trust, then an up-to-date will can at least put you in control of who receives what upon your death. When time is of the essence a will may be the only realistic planning tool, but if you already have a trust it can be a relatively easy process to update and fully fund it.

A little planning goes a long way when it comes to medically-trying times. As busy as you may be when you’re handling your own medical issues or the medical issues of a loved one, even one conversation can be enough for us to define and implement the estate planning documents that will help you feel more prepared for whatever comes next. Please reach out to us so we can chat about your needs and helping you obtain peace of mind.

Gerald M. Dorn has been practicing estate planning law for 27 years and is the managing shareholder of the law firm. Dorn is a certified specialist in estate planning law and an accredited estate planner by the National Association of Estate Planning Councils. Dorn has also been awarded the designation of Academy Fellow from the American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys. 

The attorneys at Anderson, Dorn & Rader, Ltd. offer guidance and advice to clients in every area of estate planning. For information, contact us at (775) 823-WILL (9455) or visit us online at


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment