My Mom won't be around forever... preparation help.
November 30, 2009 2:18 PM Subscribe
My mom was diagnosed with Small-Cell Lung Cancer about a month ago. Her prognosis is not so good... her doctor is estimating one to two years with chemo. Last night, my mom and siblings got together to discuss her wishes, wills, money, etc. Unfortunately, there are still issues that were left unresolved. In fact, I feel like we left with more questions than answers.
The biggest issue that she's having a hard time deciding is what to do with her money. She was working full-time up until a few months ago when she was laid off. Work has been immensly stressful for her for the past several years. I tried many many times to get her to find something else or just stop working so much. But, she's very stubborn, and just doesn't think of herself first. I believe the stress caused the cancer, because she's not even a smoker. Anyway, my point is that she has very little income now, but managed to build up a small savings. She was contemplating using most of the money to pay into her mortgage so that she can stop paying PMI. Another reason is that she believes that by not having that money in her bank account will allow her to qualify for assistance. This is where we're kind of unsure of how it really works. I can't imagine such a loophole would exist. My siblings and I believe she should hang on to the money and use it to make her life as comfortable and stress-free as possible. But, I can understand that she wouldn't want it all sucked away by medical bills either. She isn't rich, and neither is the rest of our family, so we want to make the best financial decisions possible. I'm not sure who we can ask about this without making it obvious that we're looking for a loophole. Let me stress that she's not looking to commit fraud here, but just a way to maximize her benefits in a legal way.
So, some questions I have...
1) Should she hang on to her savings to use for living expenses, or use it to pay mortgage and remove PMI monthly payments, and possibly allow her to qualify for assistance? My thinking here is that cash is king, so hang on to it. But, would like some opinions.
2) She wishes to be cremated, and does not want a big funeral service. (She has very few friends around and only immediate family). What costs should we budget for or expect from a cremation and maybe a small funeral service?
3) Since she wants to live in her current home, what's the best way to deal with selling it? We don't know exactly how long she has, and even if we did, we don't know how fast her house would sell. My first thought is to deal with it after she passes away, so that she can be as comfortable as possible. But, not only does she worry about the burden of us selling it, but I have to admit that it worries me too in this economy. I certainly can't afford two mortgages and either can my siblings.
4) More specific to her type of cancer, what can I expect her quality of life after chemo and in the end? I assume that after her chemo (I believe 6 months of it), that she will begin to regain strength and will have a more or less normal life. But, I know the cancer will eventually catch up with her. What happens then? Is it sudden? Is it months of pain and suffering? Will she need 24/7 care? What will she not be able to do on her own?
5) I was thinking that we'd use a website like legal zoom to handle a will and living will. I hope that she can avoid paying a lawyer $400/hr for this and any other advice that we can find elsewhere. Is it a bad idea to not involve a lawyer?
6) Also, maybe a dumb question, but why can't they simply continue chemo when it does eventually come back?