Life can change in the blink of an eye. One day, you might be healthy and happy. The next day, you could be facing a serious diagnosis. If you become critically ill, there are several urgent estate planning measures that you need to take.

Create or Update Your Will and Related Documents

The Last Will and Testament is one of the central documents of your estate plan. If you don’t have one, you will need to create one as soon as possible. If you do have one, that’s good, but you may need to update it. This is especially true if you created your will a long time ago or if you’ve had significant life changes since then.

You will likely need some additional documents in conjunction with the will.

  • Determine what trusts, if any, are needed.
  • Name beneficiaries carefully and keep beneficiary designations consistent across documents.
  • Review your life insurance policies and beneficiary designations.
  • Select guardians or conservators for minor children or protected people in your care.

Create or Update a Living Will

If you become incapacitated, you will need someone else to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf. Through incapacity planning, you can ensure that your wishes will be carried out no matter what happens to you.

  • Use a power of attorney to appoint someone who will be able to manage your financial affairs on your behalf.
  • Use an advance directive to establish your wishes regarding medical care and treatment. An advance directive will include a living will and a medical power of attorney.

Communicate with Your Family

It’s important to talk to your family about your estate plan. This way, they will know what your wishes are and be prepared to honor them. Although the discussion might be difficult, it can reduce stress and prevent disputes later.

Make sure to cover the following:

  • Your estate plan
  • Your burial or cremation and funeral wishes
  • Where to find key documents
  • How to access digital assets and online accounts

Planning for the Future

After the diagnosis of a critical illness, estate planning takes on a new urgency. However, we should not wait until such a diagnosis to think about our estate plans.

Whether it’s the result of a stroke, a car crash, or another sudden event, a person’s health can change overnight. By the time the medical issue is known, it may be too late to purchase life insurance, assign a medical power of attorney, or make other key estate planning decisions.

Whether you’re currently healthy or facing a serious diagnosis, don’t put off your estate planning. Contact Skinner Law and get started today.


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Portland, OR 97225
Phone: (503) 719-6603


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