Essential Estate Planning Documents
In this epidemic, people are very frightened by something they cannot see and cannot control. It is something that confronts us every day with dire statistics, masks and depressing news reports. As an estate planning law firm, Phelps LaClair knows how to build security for the future into your estate plan. We also know that while you can stock up on canned goods and toilet paper, you can’t eliminate the potential risk of contracting Covid-19. But you can prepare for the worst by preparing three essential estate planning documents in case you become incapacitated, either by illness or accident.
A living will spells out your end of life medical decisions. If at any point you are unable to communicate your wishes—because you are in a coma or because a doctor has diagnosed you as incapable of making decisions—a living will allows your family and physicians to know your desires. They can rest assured that your personal beliefs and choices are being respected.
Also known as an advance directive, a Living Will spells out what medical treatment you are willing to receive, and what treatment you don’t wish to receive. Would you want to be kept alive artificially? If you are in a long term incapacitation such as a coma or a vegetative state, should your life go on indefinitely? A living will frees your loved ones from the unbearable burden of wondering if they are doing “the right thing” regarding your care.
Medical Power Of Attorney
With a living will, you need to empower someone that you trust to enforce your wishes and communicate with your doctors if you are not able to communicate on your own. This person, also known as a healthcare proxy, will be responsible for decisions regarding your hospital, doctors, and the care you receive. The medical power of attorney must be compliant with the HIPPA Privacy Rule which allows caregivers to discuss a patient’s condition in detail. The healthcare proxy must be willing to act on your behalf, and should live nearby in case of emergency. Many people will choose a close friend over a relative because of the emotional elements involved during a time of grieving.
Financial Power of Attorney
Like a healthcare proxy with a medical power of attorney, you need to select a financial agent to act in your best interest. Creating a financial power of attorney allows you to choose a trusted person to take care of your business. This person will have access to all of your financial accounts, will pay your bills and deposit your income, and will make investment decisions for you. They will also be responsible for filing your taxes. The actions and decisions taken by this agent must be for your benefit, and will be accountable to a court.
You Need an Estate Plan
Preparation is all about planning. These three essential estate planning documents are the best preparation you can have in light of Covid-19. All of our Phelps LaClair clients have a living will, medical and financial powers of attorney as part of their estate plan. They also have access to a free consultation to review their estate plan every three years. If you do not have an estate plan or a living will, we offer a free no obligation consultation to discuss your needs and goals. Give us a call to schedule an appointment, and we’ll make sure you are as prepared as you can be for whatever lies ahead.