Life After Cancer Treatment: Financial and Legal Matters

This article is not intended to and does not constitute legal advice or financial advice.

The financial challenges that people with cancer and their families face are very real. During an illness, you and your family may have found it hard to find the time or energy to review your options. Yet it's important to keep your family financially healthy.

For hospital bills, you may want to talk with a hospital financial counselor. You may be able to work out a monthly payment plan or even get a reduced rate. You may also want to stay in touch with your insurance company to make sure costs are covered.

For information about resources that are available, see the Resources section. You can also go to the NCI database, Organizations that Offer Support Services, and search "financial assistance." Or call toll-free 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) to ask for help.

Legal documents

If you haven't developed an advance directive, you may want to consider it. Advance directives are legal documents that let a person decide important issues ahead of time, including how much treatment to receive and who should make decisions if he or she can't. Having an advance directive helps ensure that you get the treatment you want. Understanding your wishes will also make it easier for family members if a time comes when treatment decisions need to be made.

Advance directives

  • A living will lets people know what kind of medical care patients want if they are unable to speak for themselves.
  • A durable power of attorney for health care names a person to make medical decisions for a patient if he or she can't make them. This person, chosen by the patient, is called a health care proxy.

Other legal papers that are not part of the advance directives

  • A will tells how a person wants to divide money and property among his or her heirs. (Heirs are usually the surviving family members. Other people may also be named as heirs in a will.)
  • A trust appoints the person a patient chooses to manage money for him or her.
  • Power of attorney appoints a person to make financial decisions for the patient when he or she can't make them.

A lawyer does not always need to be present when you fill out these papers. However, a notary public may be needed. Each state has its own laws about advance directives. Check with your lawyer or social worker about the laws in your state. See the Resources section for more information.


Retrieved from on June 5, 2018.

Document source: 
National Cancer Institute