If nothing else, the COVID-19 pandemic serves as a great big reality check. It is a stark reminder that life is short, fragile, and incredibly unpredictable. Now with the worst seemingly behind and fear turning to wariness, it is time to take stock of our lives. For some people, that may mean it is time to reevaluate their estate plan. Keep reading to learn why revisiting an estate plan matters right now.
First, the language in your Florida estate planning documents is important. If you have an estate plan, your lawyer has probably encouraged you to review it every so often. This is because the documents in your plan may need to be amended as your needs change.
Given recent events, this is the perfect time to review the legal documents in your estate plan pertaining to your health. These include healthcare directives, which are also called advanced directives, and power of attorney for health care. Make sure the language in these documents still reflects your wishes, and that it will not have unintended consequences if you are hospitalized due to COVID-19.
Second, you may wonder: What are the changes worth considering? Start by checking the details in your living will. This is the document in which you specify the type and extent of the treatment you would want in certain circumstances. Specifically, it lets you provide instructions for healthcare providers in case of end-of-life conditions or if serious illness prevents you from telling them yourself.
When reviewing this document in the context of the pandemic, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. One is that some measures you may not otherwise want have proven effective in the treatment of COVID-19. The second is that generic language prohibiting intubation and the use of a ventilator may preclude you from receiving this treatment. Talk with your lawyer about making changes to include specific language about the extent of the treatment you want if you get COVID-19.
Third, review the provisions in your power of attorney for health care, or health care surrogate designation. This is the estate planning document that allows you to name someone to make health care decisions for you when you are incapable of doing so. If it does not already have one, think about adding a provision that specifies methods for communication when personal interaction is prohibited. That way your designated surrogate can speak with your doctor by phone, email, video or even text message if necessary.
No matter whether you are an existing client or you are new to the community and in need of a new estate planning attorney, we are here to help. We are happy to assess and amend your existing estate plan, or to help you create a new one. To get started, call our office or use the contact page on our website to arrange an appointment, today.