What the COVID-19 Pandemic Has Taught Us About Estate Planning

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us how little control we have over many circumstances in our lives. In addition to staying safe and trying to care for our loved ones, we can also look for lessons to prepare ourselves for the future. One of the crucial lessons we can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic is the importance of planning ahead of unexpected circumstances. Knowing you are prepared can provide an intense sense of comfort to you and your family.

Discuss Estate Plan With an Experienced Lawyer

If you have questions regarding estate planning and would like to speak to a lawyer, we encourage you to get in touch. Creating an estate plan is one concrete action we can take during these uncertain times to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Contact our Southeastern Massachusetts estate planning team today to learn more about how we can help you create a thorough estate plan.

1. Unexpected Life Events Can Occur At Any Time

The COVID-19 pandemic was completely unexpected. Unfortunately, this pandemic may not be the last one we see during our lifetimes. There’s nothing to suggest that a similar type of pandemic may not occur in the future. Even if we don’t experience another pandemic during our lifetimes, other types of unexpected events will occur. From cancer diagnoses to car accidents, an unexpected event can change our lives in the blink of an eye. You might not be able to prevent these types of events from occurring, but you can ensure that you and your loved ones are protected.

2. You Are Never Too Young Or Too Old To Have An Estate Plan

We’ve witnessed so many tragedies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps you’ve experienced friends and family members dying from complications arising from the virus. You may have lost your job or been financially impacted by the pandemic. Estate planning is something that many of us put off because we think time is on our side. Going through the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that the best time to prepare is now. 

Whether you are a recent college graduate, a parent who recently purchased your first home, or someone looking towards retirement, you need to have a completed estate plan in place. Anyone with an underlying medical condition, first responders, and health care workers should also have a will-based or trust-based estate plan in place. Even if you do not have any medical issues and are relatively healthy, a car accident or another type of tragedy could occur. At Surprenant & Beneski, PC, we believe that everyone over 18 should have a basic estate plan in place.

3. Planning for Contingencies Is Crucial

One of the goals of preparing an estate plan is to plan for the unknown. An estate plan helps us prepare for becoming sick or injured and other types of external contingencies. What would happen if your employer’s company goes under or you are laid off due to the pandemic? How would losing your job impact your income in retirement planning? What if one of your beneficiaries passes away before you do? 

What if your personal representative becomes seriously ill with the coronavirus and cannot manage your affairs? These questions raise a few examples of the types of external contingencies that you should address during the estate planning process.

4. The Value of Making Healthcare Decisions For Yourself

We have seen some of our fellow citizens enter the intensive care unit struggling to breathe due to the coronavirus. Many hospitals did not allow loved ones to enter the hospital, even to say goodbye to dying loved ones. During a pandemic, there is a pressing need to appoint a healthcare agent. When you create an advanced health directive, you will appoint a trusted family member or friend to step into your shoes and make decisions for you if you are unable to do so. Creating a health care power-of-attorney, durable power of attorney, and living will, and signing a HIPAA authorization can ensure that you received the type of healthcare you desire.

5. You Need Enforceable Healthcare Instructions

Sometimes people assume that as long as they tell their family members what type of medical care they would like in a crisis, they’ll be protected. However, simply telling someone your wishes doesn’t give them the legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you’re incapacitated. Your instructions to your loved ones will not be enforceable simply because you gave them instructions.

Without creating the appropriate legal documents, your loved ones may have to go to court and receive a court order before they can make medical decisions for you. If you become incapacitated, who will pay your bills for you and manage your finances? Without a power of attorney, your family may need to go through the conservatorship or guardianship process before they can help you manage your finances. Taking the time to prepare all necessary documents will protect you and your family during a crisis. Your loved ones will thank you for taking the time to set forth your goals and wishes. 

Contact a Southeastern Massachusetts Healthcare Lawyer Today

The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we are not in control over many circumstances in our lives. Preparing for the future while we can is crucial. If you are a parent, you should prepare for the guardianship of your minor children. If you are a spouse, you should prepare an estate plan to provide for your spouse after you’re gone. Older adults should prepare for long-term care requirements. Preparing ourselves for the future gives us peace of mind. It’s essential to prepare while we can during these uncertain times. Contact Surprenant & Beneski, PC, to discuss your case with one of our skilled estate planning lawyers as soon as possible.