When Retirement Is Derailed by a Terminal Illness

We all have visions of our ideal retirement, and none of them include a terminal illness. However, sometimes life has other plans. Today, Grace Kvantas joins me to discuss the top concerns that are often overlooked for those facing a terminal diagnosis.

This is a difficult, yet important, subject to address. Investment strategies, tax strategies, and estate planning may not be at the forefront of your mind during this challenging time period, however, doing the legwork now will set your loved ones up for success after your passing. You won’t want to miss this episode if you or a loved one has recently experienced a terminal diagnosis.

There are many questions that may arise upon the diagnosis of a terminal illness

A terminal diagnosis is an overwhelming experience that no one is ever prepared for. In addition to all the issues facing your health, mindset, and family relations, there are also financial considerations to face. You may be wondering if you can afford care, if paying for care will deplete your family’s savings, or who will manage the household finances when you’re gone.

We’ve compiled a list of often overlooked financial considerations for those facing a terminal illness. There are 3 main financial areas to consider when you are nearing the end of your life

Estate planning

It is important to have your estate documents in order. These documents include a last will and testament, a living will, a healthcare power of attorney, and a financial power of attorney. Even if you have these documents in place, this is a good time to review and update them to make sure they still clearly reflect your wishes. Listen to episode 165 to hear why it is essential to have a professional prepare your estate documents.

Additionally, you may want to contact anyone named in your documents as a trustee, executor, or guardian and ensure that they feel they are up to the job.

You’ll also want to double-check the beneficiaries on your IRAs, 401Ks, or Roth IRAs.

One way to lessen friction among family members after your passing is to directly give away anything that you would like to leave to your loved ones now. Clear communication is key to ensuring that your wishes are followed and reducing quarrels among your kin.


Treatment is often costly, even with health insurance, which is why you will want to be aware of both your in-network and out-of-network out-of-pocket maximums. If you are coming up on an open enrollment period, you may even want to think about changing your health insurance plan.

Many people don’t think about this, but it is a good idea to keep a spreadsheet of any medical expenses that you incur at this time. If those expenses are over 7.5% of your AGI then they are tax deductible.

If you are still employed, try to keep your employment status if you can. This can help with medical insurance and other benefits and may have the added benefit of keeping your mind busy on other tasks.

This is also a good time to look at any other insurance benefits that you may be eligible for. Your life insurance could help you pay for treatment or you may want to file for disability insurance or SSDI.

Tax and investment planning

Tax and investment planning are two areas where a financial planner can provide a lot of value. They can help you maximize deductions and plan how your surviving spouse will weather the significant tax changes as they move from married filing jointly to single.

This is a good time to simplify any accounts by closing them, joining them, or doing any rollovers.

The most important thing to remember is to spend your time the way you want to. Communicate your wishes with your family members and share your feelings with them.

Related: The Terminal Illness Checklist