The spread of COVID-19 has changed the daily lives and routines of people all over the world. The pandemic has also made it necessary for people to take stock of their present and future. Although it is a difficult topic to confront, you should consider what may happen to your family and property if you become seriously ill or pass away.
However, estate planning is not only important for end-of-life scenarios. It is also worth considering what may happen if extended COVID treatment leaves you or a loved one unconscious or hospitalized. For these situations, it may be beneficial to assign a Power of Attorney for someone else to make important decisions on your behalf.
In these difficult times, many people may be wondering, “How has COVID-19 affected the need for estate planning?” The answer may vary depending on your particular circumstances, but there are several key concepts that can help anyone plan for an uncertain future.
In simple terms, the purpose of estate planning is to establish a person’s wishes when they cannot express them later on. Often, this includes writing a Will or other testamentary document that has legal standing upon a person’s death. Additionally, it can include documents such as Powers of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorneys or Living Wills that outline a person’s wishes if they become incapacitated.
These concepts are especially important in the age of COVID-19. Even otherwise healthy people may be drastically impacted by a battle with the virus. For some individuals, the onset of coronavirus may be sudden and unexpected. Because of this, it is vital to establish clear instructions through proper estate planning in case of death or incapacity.
When most people imagine an estate plan, they think of a Last Will and Testament. While a Will is a major part of an effective plan, it is not the only step that you can take to secure the future for you and your family.
One important estate planning tool is a Power of Attorney, which gives other people the right to handle your legal affairs. The only requirements for these documents are that they grant these powers to a specific person, and that you give this authority while still in a sound state of mind. The state law under North Carolina General Statutes § 32C-3-301 provides a general outline of the role that a Power of Attorney can play in effective estate planning.
Similarly, a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will can provide instructions for family members if COVID leaves you unable to make your own decisions. The primary purpose of these documents is to provide specific instructions concerning medical treatment, potentially including a do not resuscitate order. Considering the devastating effects that COVID-19 can have, a Health Care Power of Attorney and a Living Will may help people avoid undue suffering.
Unfortunately, cases have shown that even otherwise healthy people can fall victim to the coronavirus. Even if people make a full recovery, they may be left temporarily unable to make essential decisions concerning finances or medical care.
Having an effective estate plan can help ease your mind and prepare for any unfortunate scenarios amidst the pandemic. A Power of Attorney, a Health Care Power of Attorney or a Living Will can provide family members with instructions in case of your incapacity or death. If you are worried or uncertain about the impact COVID-19 may have on your life, a compassionate attorney could provide more information about how estate planning can secure your wishes for the future.