During the COVID-19 pandemic, it may feel like there are few aspects of your life that you can control, beyond hand washing and social distancing. However, estate planning – which is more vital now than ever – can help you reclaim some control during these uncertain times.
Estate planning with 5 Points Probate involves the creation of three essential documents:
These documents are crucial if you should fall ill, and they can help ease the burden on your family during the worst-case scenario. This guide will explain why you need estate planning in light of the coronavirus, the benefits of setting up these documents, and how an attorney can help.
Estate planning begins with a power of attorney and an advanced directive for healthcare. Together, these documents will serve a crucial role in the event you fall seriously ill. In the worst-case scenarios, a will can outline how your assets are to be distributed after you pass.
Let’s take a look at these documents in more detail:
A power of attorney gives family and/or trusted acquaintances the legal right to make key financial decisions on your behalf. For example, let’s say you’re the head of your household, and your health has taken a turn for the worse. If you’re hospitalized or even put on a ventilator, your physical ability to access your finances and, perhaps, your mental capacity during this time may be severely affected. Meanwhile, the mortgage is still due, your business needs to be managed, and bills must be paid.
While you’re temporarily unavailable and/or incapacitated, who will take care of your business, pay your bills, or handle other financial obligations? With a power of attorney, you can choose a responsible person you trust to handle these affairs on your behalf.
A power of attorney can grant your family member or trusted friend access to your bank accounts to pay bills, manage the day-to-day affairs of your business, and act on your behalf in nearly any fiduciary capacity. This grant of authority is why it’s important to choose someone who you fully trust to make the best decisions on your behalf.
When choosing someone to serve as your power of attorney, they should be:
An advanced directive for healthcare is essentially a guide for first responders, healthcare workers and your loved ones regarding the kind of care you want to receive if you cannot make these decisions yourself. It is sometimes referred to as a “Living Will.”
An advanced directive for healthcare can also prevent your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions. For example, if you state that you do not want to receive life sustaining treatment, this personal choice can prevent situations that would otherwise cause undue stress for your family.
During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this document is more important than ever, especially for non-married couples. For instance, let’s say you have told your specific preferences for medical care to your significant other. If you are not legally married, your significant other will not be able to make medical decisions on your behalf. But with an advanced directive for healthcare, you can set out your wishes for medical care to act as a guide for healthcare workers, and specifically appoint your partner as healthcare proxy so that they legally have a say.
An advance healthcare directive may cover the following:
In addition to outlining your wishes for medical care, an advanced directive for healthcare also allows you to name a healthcare proxy to speak for you, if you are unable to communicate your preferences.
A power of attorney and an advance healthcare directive can help you get the medical care you want, and ensure your financial affairs are in order if you’re incapacitated.
But what if the unthinkable occurs? While it’s difficult to think about, many people find that creating a will actually helps them feel more in control during these difficult times. In the event you pass, a will fully outlines how your assets are to be distributed.
You can also appoint an executor of your will. An executor is the person who oversees the distribution of your assets and any related matters in probate court.
A will can decide:
An attorney will help facilitate the process of creating your will, and you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that a plan is in place.
It’s not mandatory to hire an attorney for estate planning. However, without legal experience, there are many parts of the estate planning process that you might miss. Proper estate planning with a seasoned local attorney can save your family a significant amount of money and time.
When you choose 5 Points Probate to handle your estate planning, you can expect:
The COVID-19 pandemic has left many of us feeling uncertain about the future. During these uncertain times, estate planning is one of the best ways to reclaim control and protect you and your family.
Estate planning can let healthcare workers know what kind of care you want in the event you are incapacitated. It can also ensure your financial affairs are properly managed, and that your assets are allocated according to your wishes, if needed.
Get started by scheduling a confidential consultation with one of our local attorneys at 5 Points Probate. Contact us today at (205) 235-9658.
We look forward to meeting you in our offices conveniently located in 5 Points South in Birmingham or on the internet. Stay safe and be well!