COVID-19 infections are surging here in Washington and across the U.S. Experts predict infections will continue to rise, and many more people will become ill and require hospitalization in the coming months. CNN states more than 60,000 American’s will die from COVID-19 over the next few weeks. Therefore, it is crucial to protect yourself and prepare in advance if you become ill and unable to care for yourself. And the best way to do that is to put together a COVID-19 emergency packet as part of your estate plan.
Having an estate plan is essential, but an estate plan does not do much good when key people don’t know about it or cannot access critical documents and information. This reality has become more apparent during the pandemic as people suddenly become ill and incapacitated.
Many times after someone falls ill or passes away, family members of the deceased go on a hunt for an advance medical directive, power of attorney, will or other estate planning documents, or the contact information of an attorney who might know about them. Don’t let this happen to you.
It’s great to have all your estate planning documents complete and current. But the work and expense won’t do much good if the right people don’t know about the documents and have access to them. There can be dire consequences when vital elements of the estate planning packet and other important information aren’t immediately known and accessible to your loved ones, especially if you fall ill. The people you want in charge will be unable to make medical and financial decisions, and your affairs or your actual wellbeing could hang in the balance.
Consequently, the COVID-19 emergency packet you create needs to contain the primary estate planning documents: medical power of attorney/advance medical directive, financial power of attorney, and will. Your medical records will likewise be of great importance, especially during the current pandemic.
Without the healthcare power of attorney document, the hospital and doctors will not know your wishes for medical treatment or who should help make decisions on your behalf. To prevent this from occurring, discuss your wishes with the agent you named in your document. Then provide them with a copy of it.
Copies of your insurance card and any related information also should be in the COVID-19 emergency packet. These might include a Medicare card and information about any Medicare supplement and Part D prescription drug coverage you have. Receiving the care you need will happen much more smoothly at the hospital or a doctor’s office when the medical insurance details are immediately available. Having these in one place will allow your agent to step in if it becomes urgently necessary.
Your medical history and any other relevant information also should be in the COVID-19 emergency packet, including a description of any chronic conditions or diseases. Have a list of all your prescriptions, plus any supplements and over-the-counter medications you take. Consider including photos of the labels to ensure accuracy. Of course, detail your known allergies. A list of essential personal information also is important, including your full legal name, social security number, birthdate, emergency contacts, and contact information for your doctors and other medical providers.
With a COVID-19 emergency packet such as this at the ready, you and others won’t need to search around for it when the time comes. Or if you’re already at the hospital, someone can pick it up.
Finally, you should provide the agent named in your financial power of attorney a copy of the document and all useful information about your financial accounts. Doing this will allow your agent the ability to step in and pay your bills and maintain your finances while you are ill. Your bank or financial institution will not provide your agent access without an official copy of your document. Locating it in your home or trying to find your accounts can cause unnecessary delay.
Let us assist you in preparing your COVID-19 emergency packet. Call us today to get started.