We have seen a flurry of inquiries from people seeking to secure foundational estate planning documents that are imperative to have on hand should you face being diagnosed with coronavirus. Unfortunately, many of us have friends or family members who’ve been diagnosed with coronavirus. Some even have friends and/or family who have passed away from coronavirus. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused people to take their estate planning seriously.
If you are concerned that you may become diagnosed with coronavirus, taking the time to secure foundational estate planning documents is worthwhile. People want to make sure they have all of their foundational estate planning documents in place and that their documents are thorough and complete. If you’d like to set up your estate plan, or you’d like a skilled lawyer to review your existing estate planning documents, we can help. Contact Surprenant & Beneski, PC today to schedule your initial consultation.
Coronavirus Can Be Incredibly Dangerous for Certain Populations
While the death rate from coronavirus isn’t as high as experts once predicted, it remains a severe virus, especially for older individuals and those with pre-existing conditions. Sadly, the majority of coronavirus patients who need to be placed on ventilators do not survive.
One study conducted by the Intensive Care National Audit and Research Centre in London found that of 98 ventilated patients with coronavirus, only 33 were able to improve. In these difficult medical situations, tough decisions often need to be made. When patients have their estate planning documents in order and on hand, the already difficult process is easier for the patient and their loved ones.
The Following Estate Planning Documents Are Necessary
Estate planning documents will allow for the distribution of your assets according to your wishes. They will also allow you to appoint someone you trust to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated because of contracting the coronavirus. The estate planning documents listed below are imperative to have on hand if you’ve been diagnosed with coronavirus.
1. A Will or Trust-Based Estate Plan
At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, we can help you determine whether you would benefit from a will-based estate plan or a trust-based estate plan. We will carefully listen to your goals and review your financial situation. In some cases, our clients benefit from an estate plan based around a last will and testament. We will help you draft a thorough and legally enforceable will that aligns with your goals. If you are a married couple, we can help you both create wills. Should you pass away without a will in place, the Massachusetts probate court will determine how to distribute your assets according to intestacy laws.
When you create a trust, your beneficiaries will not need to go through the lengthy and often complicated probate process. Our lawyers have an in-depth understanding of the different types of Massachusetts trusts. For example, if you anticipate needing to live in a nursing home in the not too distant future, you may want to create an irrevocable trust that will help you protect your assets and qualify for MassHealth benefits. Or, you may need to set up a special needs trust if you have an adult child with special needs.
Many of our clients set up a revocable trust. You, as the grantor, retain the ability to control all of the assets in your revocable trust. You can also cancel or revoke the trust at any time. When creating a trust-based estate plan, you are in control. You can design your trust so that the trust becomes irrevocable after you pass away, or you can create your trust so that your beneficiaries receive the assets of the trust after you pass away.
2. A Durable Power of Attorney
A durable power of attorney will allow you to choose an agent to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated due to coronavirus. Should you become incapacitated and need to spend time in a hospital intensive care unit, you want to make sure that someone else can make financial and business decisions on your behalf. The last thing you want to be worried about while trying to fight coronavirus, or any other illness, is whether or not you will be able to pay your bills on time.
In most cases, durable power of attorney documents allow an agent to hire and fire professionals, including lawyers and accountants. Agents can also apply for government benefits, make estate planning decisions, manage banking, and make decisions regarding tax matters. We can help you craft a durable power of attorney that conforms to your preferences.
3. Massachusetts Health Care Proxy
A Massachusetts Health Care Proxy is incredibly important, especially during a health crisis like the coronavirus. You will be able to choose your medical decision-maker who will make decisions for you should you become incapacitated. This decision-maker is also known as a health care agent, proxy, or health care surrogate.
4. Advanced Health Care Directive/Living Will
An Advance Health Care Directive/Living Will allows you to choose which type of health care you’d like to receive in certain life-threatening situations. After you complete this legal document, you will need to share the form with your friends, family, and medical providers. Be sure to appoint someone who is at least 18 years or older, and who you trust to follow your wishes and do what is best for you.
Contact Our Experienced Estate Planning Lawyers
It can be challenging to think about what will happen if we become incapacitated or pass away, but it is incredibly important. The stress surrounding the coronavirus can make, considering end-of-life matters even more difficult. At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, we understand how challenging these issues can be, and our empathetic attorneys help walk our clients through the process. If you need to create the estate planning documents mentioned above, or you’d like us to review your existing documents, contact our law firm today.