ESTATE PLANNING ESSENTIALS WITH COVID-19
Most people do not like to think or talk about their “Estate Plan”. I have found that when some “event” happens in life, it triggers the thought of getting their estate plan in order.
The typical “events” that cause a trigger are: a marriage, a death of a relative or friend, a child being born or a sudden sickness. Guess what? This Covid-19 pandemic is another “trigger” that has scared a lot of people. With good reason, I am getting a lot of calls from clients wanting to get their estate plans completed. So, I thought an article on what is “essential” in estate planning documentation is warranted with this pandemic.
In my opinion, there are three “must have” documents right now in this environment: (1) a durable power of attorney; (2) a health care surrogate; and (3) a living will. A “durable power of attorney” is a document that names someone you trust to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to handle them yourself. For example, let us say you have come down with the virus and you are quarantined in your house.
How are you going to be able to go to the bank if needed? Pay bills if you are so sick you cannot even get out of bed? A “health care surrogate” is a document that names someone you trust to handle your health care decisions if you are unable to handle them yourself. What happens if you get so sick that you are unable to communicate with anyone on your health care issues (i.e. you are unconscious and cannot respond to anyone)? The health care surrogate handles that situation. A “living will” is a document that tells the entire world whether you want to remain on life support or not once medical doctors have determined there is nothing left for them to do.
For example, what happens if you are on a ventilator and the doctors cannot get you off of it? Do you want to remain on it or not? The point is you get to make that decision now so that the family members do not have to decide for you later! Additionally, you need to do a will (especially for guardianship of children under 18) and possibly a revocable trust. The point is, do not keep putting this off! I am here to help.
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