As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, many are worried about their health and are putting more thought toward whether their financial and legal affairs are in order in the event of serious illness or death. Pandemic or not, it is always recommended that every person have an estate plan in place, including at least four primary documents:
- A will
- A medical power of attorney
- A financial power of attorney
- A living will
A proper estate plan will also address many important questions, such as:
- Who do you want to make medical decisions for you during your incapacity?
- What are your medical wishes in the event of incapacity or at end of life?
- Who do you want to manage your finances during incapacity?
- What are your wishes with respect to disposition of your remains upon death?
- What is the most efficient way to administer your estate upon death and avoid the probate process if appropriate?
Having advance directives is particularly important during a health crisis such as what we are currently experiencing. Powers of attorney and a living will provide clear direction should you become incapacitated. Having these documents in place can result in swifter medical treatment in accordance with your wishes and certainty regarding the management of your finances. This will help your family members feel more prepared should they need to assist you (especially if they would need to during this time when many financial institutions are physically closed and medical providers are overwhelmed with treating virus-infected patients).
Another thing that this pandemic has complicated is the ability for estate planning attorneys to meet in person with clients. Governors across the country have implemented emergency orders allowing for remote notarization, so attorneys can witness their clients sign their estate planning documents through video-conferencing programs such as Zoom or Skype. Remote notarization has many requirements, though, and must follow proper procedure in order to be utilized.
In short, estate planning is crucial to have in place during these uncertain times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of particular importance is having clear advance directives, which outline who is authorized to make medical and/or financial decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated.
For help with your advance directive and other estate planning documents, 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.