Estate Planning During a Pandemic (Part 1)

The coronavirus has taken a toll on all of us in a number of ways, including our physical and mental health. Most of us know at least one person who has been affected by the coronavirus. Planning well for health care and financial needs in your estate plan can bring some needed peace of mind during this time. I’ll write today about important health care components of an estate plan and will write next week about financial components.

Health Care Components of an Estate Plan

Advance Health Care Directive

As we grow older, it becomes increasingly important to have an advance health care directive. This is a written plan specifying your wishes for end-of-life health care if and when you are unable to share these wishes yourself.

Begin by considering which medical emergency treatments you do or do not want. You may also want to talk to your doctor about your family medical history as well as how your current health conditions may impact your health over time. Make sure to write down your wishes and update this document with any health changes you may have.

Go over your advance health care directive with your doctor and the person you choose to be your health care proxy, ensure all forms are filled out correctly, and give each of these individuals a copy (and keep a record of who has these forms).

Make sure the original documents are kept somewhere safe but easily accessible, such as a desk drawer. You can also carry a card with you stating that you have directives and where to find them.

Health Care Power of Attorney

A health care power of attorney is a legal document which names your health care proxy. This is the person who can review your medical records and make decisions regarding your treatment should you become incapacitated and unable to make medical decisions for yourself.

Carefully consider your choice for your health care proxy. This person would have to make difficult decisions, so a close family member or friend who you trust and who understands this responsibility is a good choice.

Living Will

A living will (which is different from a last will and testament) is a type of advance health care directive dealing with end-of-life decisions for those who are terminally ill or permanently unconscious. A living will covers specific medical treatments like resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, pain management, tube feeding, and organ and tissue donation. Think about your personal values while writing a living will, and talk to your doctor, health care proxy, and family and friends about the decisions detailed in this document.

Next week, I’ll write about important financial components of your estate plan.

For help with your estate plan, contact us at Wilson and Wilson Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC at 708 482 7090 for our main office in LaGrange, Illinois or at 847 656 8958 for our Northbrook, Illinois office.