Fewer than half of Americans have done their estate planning. Even if you have, COVID-19 creates new considerations.
As the Covid-19 crisis continues, we hear a lot of talk about estate planning and the increased need for documents like a Healthcare Power of Attorney. Only 50 percent of Americans have completed this process. If you are one of them, congratulations! You have the peace of mind that comes with preparation.
But it’s not likely you did your planning during a pandemic. Covid-19 poses some interesting challenges that may necessitate a quick review. One example: Does Covid-19 change how you feel about ventilators? Are you willing to authorize experimental treatment? With a novel virus our physicians and scientists still don’t know how to prevent or treat, you might have different feelings about these issues. If so, you should have your documents updated to reflect your current thinking.
What else should you be considering during a pandemic? First, whoever you nominated in your documents to serve on your behalf should know about the documents and where to find them. If you are too ill to tell anyone about the plan, they can’t use your planning to protect you.
This is an easy problem to address: Put together a “go package” of your essential documents. This package should be easily accessible — not locked away in your home safe or a safety deposit box.
Content sponsored by Kile & Kupiszewski Law Firm, LLC
Your hospital “go package” should include the following:
- A copy of your driver’s license, updated if necessary with your current address.
- A copy of your Social Security card (or at least list the number).
- Copies of your Healthcare Power of Attorney and Living Will.
- Pictures of your current prescription labels, or a list of your medications and any supplements you take.
- A list of any medication allergies.
- Key medical history: chronic conditions, prior surgeries, any medical devices you use, etc.
- A list of all of your treating physicians with contact information.
- A list of who is allowed to contact you while you are in the hospital, along with their contact information. Given that Covid-19 patients are not allowed in-person hospital visits, you should now include a list of people you would like to speak with on the phone or “see” via video platforms.
- A copy of all health insurance cards.
- If you have long-term care insurance, include a copy of the policy or at least the policy number and company contact information.
- Your cell phone and number.
- An extra-long charging cord. (My husband and I learned during his last hospital stay; the outlet was far from his hospital bed and the phone was out of his reach.)
- The information in your “go package” can be kept in a binder or manila envelope — or you can prepare a digital copy on a thumb drive you keep on your keychain. If you go the digital route, make sure there is a note in your wallet saying this information is on the thumb drive.
The best time to prepare for an illness is when you feel well. Let your loved ones and decision makers know where you keep the “go package” in the event you are unable to take it with you.
If you still need an estate plan or if you need to update your plan, Emily B. Kile in our firm can assist you. Call us at 480-348-1590 or make an appointment online at kilekuplaw.com
Emily (at right in photo) and Jennifer are the owners of Kile & Kupiszewski Law Firm in Scottsdale, which handles special needs and ALTCS planning, guardianship/conservatorship, probate and trust administration, estate planning and probate litigation.
Related posts on their website include:
- Visiting a love one during a pandemic
- I did my estate plan … now what?
- 5 things to know so your estate plan doesn’t become useless