What Measures Can You Take to Protect Yourself and Loved Ones?
If we’ve learned anything over the past 18 months, it’s that life is tenuous and fragile. That knowledge can be reflected in the dramatic increase over the last year and a half in the preparation and execution of estate planning documents—wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and advance medical directives. Consider these findings in a poll conducted by LegalZoom.com:
- Before the pandemic started, approximately one in every three Americans had a will in place. That number is now up to 46%, with more than one in four Americans indicating they put a will in place because they had concerns about death or illness because of COVID-19.
- Nearly one in three millennials (people aged 18 to 34) put a will in place since the onset of the coronavirus, with one in five of those saying the primary reason for doing so was a personal connection to someone who had COVID-19
- The results of a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported a nearly five-fold increase in the completion of online advance directives since the beginning of the pandemic
Preparing or Modifying Estate Planning Documents to Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic
You may have no estate planning in place for a variety of reasons:
- You may think your estate is too small to warrant any planning
- You may erroneously believe that, in the absence of planning, your estate will go to your spouse
- You may believe that estate planning is only for people approaching or in their golden years
- You may not want to do anything that makes you contemplate your death
- You may find the whole subject overwhelming or confusing
How Preparing an Estate Plan Can Protect You and Your Loved Ones
Most people incorrectly assume that an estate plan only governs what happens to your property when you’re deceased. While that is a key component of an effective estate plan, it’s just a part of the way you can protect yourself. You can also put measures in place to ensure that your wishes are followed if you become ill or incapacitated:
- A power of attorney – A power of attorney lets you designate a person to legally act and make decisions on your behalf. Powers of attorney typically go into effect when you are declared incapable of managing your own affairs, but you can give someone your power of attorney regardless of your mental condition. Powers of attorney may be general (governing all your affairs) or specific, limited to financial, legal, medical or similar matters.
- Advance medical directives – An advance medical directive, also referred to as a medical power of attorney, lets you designate who will make medical decisions for you when you cannot. Such a document can be critical if you are incapacitated by an illness such as COVID-19.
- A living will – Somewhat similar to an advance medical directive, a living will allows you to identify certain types of medical procedures that you do or don’t want used, should you be unable to make the decision. For example, you may indicate that you don’t want artificial life support to be used, or that you don’t want resuscitation efforts to be made.
Contact the Proven Estate Planning Attorneys at Bailey & Galyen
At the law office of Bailey & Galyen, we offer a free initial consultation to every client. For an appointment with an aggressive and knowledgeable estate planning attorney, contact us by e-mail or call our offices at 844-402-2992. We will take your call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.