There is a little discussed story behind the headline COVID-19 story. With over 1 million diagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., and countless millions more undiagnosed or dying from associated illnesses, the question arises: who is making medical and financial decisions on behalf of the infected?
If you don’t appoint people who are willing to stand in for you, or state what your wishes are in terms of prolonging your life, decisions may be made for you, in the midst of a crisis, that may not reflect your wishes. It doesn’t have to be that way. If you haven’t done it already, now is the time to make your wishes known.
Here are three estate planning documents that will get the job done for you:
Durable Power of Attorney
This document allows you to appoint a person (and a successor) who will be responsible for your financial affairs in the event of your incapacity. The authorities in this power can be drafted to be as broad or narrow as you wish.
Health Care Proxy
The idea behind this document is you are appointing a person (as well as a successor) who will make medical consent decisions on your behalf. These can range from do-not-resuscitate orders to continuing life-sustaining treatments.
This is where you can offer advice to the person you designated as your health care proxy about what your treatment wishes are under a variety of medical conditions. You can be as specific as you wish, or trust your proxy with their best judgment.
You will need to see an attorney to have these documents drafted and witnessed. Having these documents, however, is of limited value if you have not taken the time to ask whether your friend or loved one would be willing to serve as your health care proxy or power of attorney. Although discussions of this nature may seem uncomfortable at first, reviewing your wishes will be a great help to them, should they be required to stand in for you in the future.
If you are in medical distress, these issues are the last things you’ll want to have to grapple with. Now is the time to plan for the future, whether you contract COVID-19 or not.
If you need more information, please contact us.