Considerations for your Estate Plan during COVID-19

April 2, 2020 | Written By Megan Frank

Megan Frank, Estate planning, Parlatore Law Group

It is more important now than ever before to focus on our well-being and the well-being of our families. COVID-19 has opened our eyes to the fact that so much is beyond our control.  During this time of uncertainty, it is a good time to create a plan for yourself to help your family should an emergency arise.  Here is a list of things you can do (from an estate planning perspective) that can help you plan for the future.

  1. Review or create a Will or Trust:  If you have a Will or Trust now is a good time to review your existing estate plan in case you have gone through any significant changes including family, financial and change of intentions.  If you do not have a basic Will or Trust, it is time to begin an estate planning process. 
  2. Review your Guardian designations:  It is extremely important if you have minor children to have guardians designated in your estate plan.  If you do not have a guardian designated, should something happen to you, it will be up to the Courts to decide where your children go. 
  3. Review or Create a Health Care Power of Attorney:  A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a person to advocate on your behalf if you are unable to do so.  You can include directions for care and treatment and end of life decisions.  It is important to ensure every adult in your family has one.  Parents, if your child is over 18 it is important for them to have a Health Care Power of Attorney as well. 
  4. Review or Create a Durable Power of Attorney:  A Durable Power of Attorney is where you appoint an agent to act on your behalf.  This is beyond a healthcare Power of Attorney. With a Durable Power of Attorney, a trusted person can act as your agent on your behalf to manage your affairs such as paying bills, managing finances and making decisions if you are unable to do so. The Power of Attorney can become effective immediately upon signing or effective upon a triggering event such as incapacitation.
  5. Evaluate your HIPAA Authorization:  A HIPAA authorization designates an individual(s) to receive information about your health condition and status.  Without a HIPAA authorization, a hospital, doctors office, or third-party medical provider may not be able to release medical records or other medical information.  This means, for example, that your family members may not be able to get any information about how you are doing if you are hospitalized or need medical care.  Review any HIPAA authorizations you have with your medical providers and if they need to be updated, now is a good time to update them. If you don’t have any, it’s a good time to determine who can have access to your medical information.
  6. Review Beneficiary Designations: Life insurance, retirement plans, and annuities pass according to their beneficiary designations, regardless of what your Will or Trust has provided for.  If your beneficiary designations need to be updated to keep them consistent with your Will, now is the time to do so.
  7. Update Digital Information and Passwords:  With everything being digital in today’s world it is vital to have an inventory of your online accounts, digital files, login IDs, passwords and answers to security questions.  Identify all of your devices (computers, Echo’s, laptops, IPads) their passwords, along with the passwords for apps.  Having a digital inventory will help your family in case of emergency.

You are not alone in this. We are all in this together and we are here to help.  Please reach out to Parlatore Law Group if you think we can be of assistance during this time.

 

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