Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has declared a State of Emergency in response to the first Covid-19 coronavirus cases in Ohio. Some advice you've heard is worth repeating... WASH YOUR HANDS, don't touch your face, and stay home if you are feeling sick.
Keeping you and your loved ones healthy is a first priorty, but beyond that have you taken any steps to protect your ability to make important decisions for yourself and your family?
Have you ensured that your financial and medical affairs can be taken care of in case of an unexpected life emergency such as the current coronavirus pandemic?
Look, we hope that you and your family stay healthy and safe, but in the event you or your loved one gets sick and needs to go to the hospital or self-quarantine, it is critical that you have a plan in place that addresses certain medical and financial matters.
This shouldn't be a surprise ... estate planning is and has always been a very important aspect of personal, family, and asset protection. It just isn't on the top of your mind and often it gets no priority because no one likes to think hard about things.
Most people fail to realize that in times like these, self-quarantine for an uncertain period of time, that the most important part of estate planning is not what happens when you pass away, but rather, what happens when you're alive but unable to act because of incapacity, disability.
If you're self-quarantined in your home, is someone legally in place to act on your behalf? Have you appointed a Durable Power of Attorney authorized to take necessary steps to ensure your financial affairs remain in good standing? Do you have someone who can go to the bank and ensure your mortgage is paid, can deal with third parties, and take care of business so your family is protected?
If you're quarantined at the hospital, do you have a Health Care Power of Attorney entrusted to make your medical decisions in case things take a turn for the worst? Do you have someone to ensure you receive proper medical attention and can make the tough decisions about what treatment is right for you?
Federal laws can prevent close family from being on the receiving end of your medical updates unless you've authorized them ahead of time through a HIPPA Authorization.
The bottom line is this ... if you don't have a comprehensive estate plan that addresses these issues, then your family, friends, and loved ones will be forced to petition the Courts before they can make these decisions for you.
If you don't have an estate plan, perhaps now is a good time to, at the very least, get your Durable Power of Attorney and Healthcare Power of Attorney.
For those of you already with an Estate Plan, you are not in the clear:
- Review your Estate Plan fully and carefully. Has anything changed in the make-up of your family or finances? Make sure it still accurately reflects your wishes and situation. It’s recommended that at a minimum, your estate plan is reviewed every 3 years.
- Make sure your Durable Power of Attorney is up to date and has not gone stale. Some banks and institutions won’t accept a Durable Power of Attorney that is more than a year or two old. You never know if and when you might be quarantined or fall ill. You may need your power of attorney to step in and take financial action on your behalf to pay your mortgage, sell property, access your bank accounts, or perform any other task that you are unable to take that your family otherwise depends on.
- Even more importantly, make sure your designated Healthcare Power of Attorney is still the right person for the job. Your Healthcare Power of Attorney makes your medical decisions and ensures that your wishes are followed in the instance you lose capacity.
- It is also important to make sure your Personal Representative or Successor Trustee is able to serve and is still the best person to help you.
- Re-evaluate the person you name to be Guardian of your minor children.
- It is also helpful to review your beneficiary designations and, if you have a trust, make sure your assets are owned by your trust.
- And if anyone named in your documents has predeceased you, it is time for a revision.
There is so much of this world that you cannot control. Through the use of estate planning tools, take control of something that will bring you peace of mind.
Please get in touch if you are ready to get this handled and would like our help. And if you would prefer to handle these matters without the hassle of coming into our office, please note our firm is set up to assist you remotely. This means we can handle most things over phone, email, or video chat.
To get started, click here and schedule a video chat Estate Planning Session.