27 Apr The #1 Legal Document Every Adult Needs to Have
The novel coronavirus continues to disrupt daily life and leave Americans uncertain of the future. We at Phelps LaClair want you to know you don’t have to feel helpless during this pandemic. Now is a great time to be proactive and plan ahead should you or a loved one fall ill. One of the most important things you can do (and should do) is to select a healthcare agent and set up an advance directive. Phelps LaClair includes a living will with these provisions in every estate plan we write.
What is a Living Will?
A living will is a legal document, usually contained within a more comprehensive estate plan. It states in written form your wishes for medical care in the case you are unable to communicate them yourself. A living will names a healthcare agent and gives him or her the authority to act in your name according to the wishes you have stated. It is used in the event you are incapacitated by accident or disease.
What Is a Healthcare Agent?
A healthcare agent (also called a medical agent, healthcare surrogate, a healthcare proxy, or a medical proxy) is a person you authorize in a medical power of attorney. It gives this person the authority to make decisions about your medical care if you are too ill to make them yourself or are unable to communicate your wishes.
Why is it important to choose a healthcare agent now?
As of April 7, there are 391,665 total cases of coronavirus. Of those, only 9,169 are in critical condition (about 2.34%). So even if you get sick, you’ll most likely have mild symptoms and recover quickly. However, since no one knows exactly how they will be affected by the virus, it’s best to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Part of that planning is making sure someone can make healthcare decisions for you if you become incapacitated and are unable to make those decisions for yourself.
An advance directive may be among the most important legal documents you prepare—especially in light of COVID-19. Picking a healthcare agent can be tricky. Our next post will offer specific considerations for choosing a healthcare proxy. Phelps LaClair, serving Chandler, Mesa, Phoenix and Scottsdale, has the experience to help you think through your choice. We can also help with any other estate planning needs you may have—whether that’s setting up a financial power of attorney, last will and testament, or a trust. Please give us a call today to discuss how we can help you and your family be prepared should you fall ill.