Having an estate plan is always important, but even more so in the midst of a global pandemic when the threat of serious illness is greater than normal.
If you already have a Will, when was the last time you updated it? A Will is only effective if the information it contains is current and accurate.
To update your Will during Coronavirus, consider hiring a lawyer who specializes in estate planning. The lawyer can assist you in creating the documents you need to plan for both today and tomorrow.
WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD MY WILL CONTAIN?
Your Last Will and Testament is a legal document that allows you to clearly communicate your end of life wishes for your assets and for your family members. A complete Last Will and Testament should clearly outline the following:
- The Executor or Personal Representative: the people you appoint to carry out the provisions of your Will upon your death.
- The Beneficiaries: the people who will be inheriting your assets
- Instructions for How and When to distribute the Assets
- Guardians for Minor Children: the people you wish to legally care for your children if you became incapacitated or die
ADDITIONAL ESTATE PLANNING DOCUMENTS
A good estate plan also contains “living documents” in the event of illness or incapacity. These documents describe your financial and healthcare desires in the event that you are not able to make those decisions for yourself.
Financial Durable Power of Attorney: this document allows you to appoint a representative to manage your finances should you be unable to do so for yourself. A general practice is to provide this person with all the legal authority over your finances that you hold, so that they may truly act on your behalf. You can choose to make a POA effective immediately or upon your incapacitation.
Healthcare Directives: Healthcare directives are actually three distinct documents:
- Healthcare Power of Attorney: this document allows you to appoint a representative to make healthcare decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so for yourself.
- Living Will: in this document, you can specifically outline any healthcare services you wish to receive, or perhaps, more importantly, those you DO NOT wish to receive.
- HIPPA Authorization: this document allows you to name an individual who can have access to your medical information so that your health care provider or insurance company can legally share your protected medical information with them.
As we have seen with Coronavirus, people who are affected often spend days or even weeks in the hospital. Sometimes they are unconscious and unable to communicate. Living documents clearly communicate your desires for such a situation and that can be helpful to medical staff, financial institutions, and your family alike.