ESTATE PLANNING DURING A PANDEMIC
The global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has understandably had many people more carefully consider their own mortality, and the estate planning steps they should take to protect their assets and beneficiaries. Whether you have an estate plan that needs to be reviewed or are interested in establishing an estate plan for the very first time, there are some specific documents and items you should prioritize.
Here is a quick overview of some of the elements of your estate plan that will require some special considerations during the pandemic.
Your Will and Revocable Living Trust
Use your will to name a guardian for any minor children you have and to appoint your estate executor. Make sure you’ve funded your trust and that you have a successor trustee in place. When you have a living trust established, your trustee can step in to manage your assets on your behalf even while you are still alive, which could become extremely important if you become unable to take care of your affairs yourself due to treatment of the coronavirus.
Establish a healthcare power of attorney and name your healthcare proxy, the person who will be able to act on your behalf for medical decisions. Your proxy will be the go-to person for your doctors and care providers. You can also leave your proxy and care providers instructions about the kinds of medical care you do or do not wish to receive in emergency or end-of-life situations. This is especially important during the pandemic, as COVID-19 treatment can involve the use of a ventilator, which does not necessarily mean you are facing a negative outcome in your case.
In addition to leaving healthcare directives, you should also fill out and sign a HIPAA waiver that allows designated individuals to have full access to your medical records. This could be a significant help if you become incapacitated due to the virus. Without such a waiver in place, doctors and healthcare providers are legally prohibited from providing your medical records to anyone. At the very least, you should designate your chosen healthcare proxy as someone who should have access to your medical records so they can make informed decisions regarding your healthcare.
Name your beneficiaries
Review any accounts that allow you to name beneficiaries so you can make sure those beneficiary designations are up to date. Examples of such accounts could include retirement accounts, payable on death accounts, investment and brokerage accounts and life insurance policies.
Establish Durable Power of Attorney
Durable power of attorney gives your chosen agent the authority to act on your behalf in financial and legal situations if you become incapacitated due to illness. They will be able to pay your bills, sell or purchase assets and file your taxes. For simplicity’s sake, many people will grant durable power of attorney to their chosen trustee, but they do not have to be the same person.
Do you need help with setting up your estate planning documents?
These are just a few aspects that make up an estate plan. If you would like to learn more about creating an estate plan or would like to know more estate planning tips you and your family should consider during the pandemic, contact our experienced team of Los Angeles estate planning attorneys at Amity Law Group.
To schedule a free consultation, call or text us at (626) 307-2800.