Imagine a scenario where you suddenly find yourself sick in the hospital, incapacitated, and no longer able to pay your own bills, manage your assets, or even make your own medical decisions.
Even before all of this began, but especially since the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), this scenario is a growing concern, and unfortunately, a growing reality for many…
If you were to become incapacitated without the proper Estate Planning documents in place, you and your family could be at serious financial and medical risk.
Common issues families face when a loved one is incapacitated without the right Estate Planning documents in place:
- No power to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to communicate your medical wishes
- Family infighting and stress over what medical decisions should be made for you because your wishes weren’t documented
- Inability to access your bank accounts to pay the bills
- No legal authority to write checks on your behalf or apply for medical insurance/benefits to pay for your hospital stay
- Long and stressful court hearings to get the legal authority to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf
- Without the correct documents in place, your family will have to go to court in order to get the legal authority to make your medical and financial decisions if you can no longer make them yourself.
In the current COVID-19 climate, this is a serious and potentially life-altering concern.
Like many businesses, the courts are closing or placing serious restrictions on the number of people allowed in the court at one time.
As a result, the process to get legal authority to make critical decisions on your behalf could take months without having the proper Estate Planning documents in place…
Fortunately, with some simple Estate Planning, you and your family can be protected from these types of situations.
This article will go over 5 essential Estate Planning documents you should consider making during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak to protect you and your family.
Authorize Someone You Trust to Make Medical Decisions In Case of a Serious Medical Emergency
Unfortunately, tragic events often happen out of nowhere, which is why it’s good to plan for these scenarios ahead of time.
In the case of a lengthy hospital stay or incapacitation, one of the most stressful things families worry about is the well-being of their loved one.
Imagine if there was no one appointed to make medical decisions on your behalf, or if your family had no instructions on your wishes and they were left to guess…
Even worse, your medical decisions could be placed in the hands of the courts…
That’s because without a Healthcare Proxy, your family will need to petition the court to gain the legal right to make your medical decisions.
But the courts are running at limited capacity to limit the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
As a result, this process could take critical days, weeks, or months.
Think about the difficulty and stress this could cause your family and the impact it would have on your healthcare.
The good news is, these situations are easily avoidable with a Healthcare Proxy…
Healthcare Proxy is a crucial document that authorizes someone you trust, your Patient Advocate, to make medical decisions on your behalf in case an emergency leaves you incapacitated and unable to communicate your own decisions.
It’s usually best to pair a Healthcare Proxy with an Advanced Directive, also known as a Living Will…
Document Your Medical Wishes In Case You’re Incapacitated and Can’t Communicate
While your Healthcare Proxy appoints someone to legally act on your behalf, your Advanced Directive / Living Will outlines your actual wishes for them to follow with respect to your medical care.
Your Advanced Directive outlines the types of medical treatment you would or would not want in certain situations.
The assertions made in this document include whether you would like CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), artificial nutrition and hydration (tube feeding, IV), maximum pain relief, artificial respiration, or to donate organs.
This helps your Patient Advocate make medical decisions for you and eliminates any confusion about certain treatments that you would or would not have wanted.
This document can be a big stress reliever for your family so they don’t feel guilty making difficult medical decisions.
Aside from your healthcare, another major stressor for families dealing with the incapacity of a loved one is how to deal with the finances…
Durable Power of Attorney
Make Sure Your Family Has Access To Your Finances To Pay Bills, Medical Expenses, and Apply for Insurance
If you suddenly become seriously ill and incapacitated…
- Who will pay your mortgage?
- Who will pay your bills and file your taxes?
- Who will move money around your bank accounts or apply for benefits on your behalf?
- Will your family even be able to access your bank accounts?
- If your family can’t access your money, will they have enough funds to pay for their living expenses?
Being prepared with a Durable Power of Attorney can alleviate some of the financial stressors and prevent your family from having to go to court to get permission to access and manage your finances.
This is an important consideration with the courts closing or operating at limited capacity.
When you create a Power of Attorney, you assign an agent who can act legally on your behalf to do the following:
- Sign your checks
- Make deposits
- Pay your bills
- Contract for medical or other professional services
- Sell your property
- Buy insurance for you
Another really important document you need to consider if you have children under the age of 18 is a Guardianship.
Make Sure Your Kids Are Taken Care of by Someone You Trust If You Can No Longer Take Care of Them Yourself
If you’re a single parent and have young children at home, who would take care of your kids if you became ill and had to stay in the hospital for a long duration?
If you’re married, what if you and your spouse both became incapacitated, who would take care of your kids?
If you have children under the age of 18, it’s very important to have a Guardianship in place to make sure someone you trust is legally appointed to take care of your kids if you’re no longer able to care for them yourself.
Revocable Living Trust
Protect Your Money, Property, and Assets with a Trust So Your Family Will Be Taken Care if You Pass Away
A Revocable Living Trust is one of the most important documents to consider creating as the cornerstone your estate plan.
Similar to a Last Will and Testament, a Living Trust allows you to pass your money, property, and assets on to your loved one’s in the event you pass away.
However, a Living Trust has significant advantages over a Will, including the ability to plan for situations where you become incapacitated and can’t make decisions on your own.
That’s because a Living Trust becomes effective the moment it’s signed while you’re still living, whereas a Will only becomes effective AFTER you pass away.
Some of the Benefits of a Living Trust include:
- Assign a person you trust to act as your trustee to manage the financial well-being of all of the assets in your trust in case you become incapacitated.
- Preserve your legacy by naming all of your beneficiaries that you want to receive your money, property, and assets after your pass away.
- Transfer your assets to your loved ones in the most efficient way possible by avoiding the long, expensive, and stressful probate court process. Without a Trust, your family will have to go through probate court before they can receive your assets. Probate is already a long process, and will take even longer with the COVID-19 mandated court closures.
- Avoid costly estate taxes depending on the size of your estate.
Maintain flexibility within your estate plan. A Revocable Living Trust can be changed or revoked at any time while you are still living which gives you the ability to modify your estate plan if your situation changes in the future.
Keep control of your finances after you pass away to ensure that your beneficiaries achieve a specific milestone or reach a certain age before receiving their inheritance.
Ensure your financial matters and the transfer of your assets to your beneficiaries remain private to protect your family and your estate from unscrupulous creditors and family members.
How to Make an Estate Plan in the Midst of the Coronavirus Outbreak to Protect Your Family, Money, and Property:
If you are interested in getting your Estate Plan in place to have the peace of mind that your family, money, and property will be taken care of, we can help.
To help you and your family stay safe (and Healthy!) during this difficult time, we offer Phone and Web consultations so that you don’t have to travel – we can do everything for you remotely!
When you call our offices to book your appointment, just let our staff know that you prefer to “meet” with one of our attorneys from the comfort of your own home via Phone or Web conference and we will get you scheduled based on your preference.
Give us a call at (508) 994-5200 or follow the link below to schedule your consultation:https://myfamilyestateplanning.com/contact-information/
We appreciate the opportunity to serve you and your family!