COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on all of our lives, and it has given us a lot to think about. One of the lessons learned is the fact that unexpected circumstances can arise at any time, even some things that are absolutely unprecedented.
Even though death is one of the inevitable facts of life, statistics show that the majority of American adults do not have estate plans in place. The most recent study that has been conducted indicates that less than half of people that are 55 years of age and older have established estate plans.
That is very surprising, and the lack of preparedness among younger adults is quite extreme. Sure, people do not usually pass away when they are under 70 years of age, but it happens each and every day.
Though people of an advanced age are more vulnerable to the coronavirus, it has taken people of all ages. Plus, as we have learned from the death of Kobe Bryant, his teenage daughter, and seven others, healthy, vibrant people can and do fall victim to fatal accidents.
Catastrophic health conditions take younger people as well, so you never know what the future holds. If you go through life without an estate plan, you are taking a major risk, and this is especially true if you have people depending on you and your income.
Estate Plan Components
Everyone should have an estate plan in place to cover the essentials. If you are the parent of dependent children, you should name a potential guardian for the youngsters in a will. Income replacement in the form of life insurance should be part of the plan as well.
There are estate planning techniques that can be used to empower a fiduciary to manage assets that are earmarked for the care of a minor child.
You should include documents that would be very important if you were to become incapacitated and unable to communicate. This virus that we are experiencing definitely helps you to see why incapacity planning is so important.
One essential device is a living will. With this type of will, you record your preferences with regard to the use of life-sustaining measures like mechanical respiration, artificial nutrition and hydration, and resuscitation. You can also state your wishes with regard to organ and tissue donation and comfort care medications.
Another advance directive that should be added is a durable power of attorney for health care. There are medical decisions that can present themselves that are not directly covered in the living will. The agent that is chosen in a durable power of attorney would act as your representative under these circumstances.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) mandates patient privacy. Health care professionals cannot share medical information with anyone other than the patient, unless a release form has been executed. Your plan should include a HIPAA release to allow the doctors to communicate freely with your agent.
Speaking of this patient privacy law, as soon as a teenager becomes an adult, HIPAA restrictions would apply to the parents. This means that doctors would not be able to share any information about your adult child if they were to require medical care for some reason.
You should certainly keep this in mind if you have unmarried adult children that have not executed these documents.
Schedule a Remote Consultation!
As you can see, estate planning is more important than ever during the COVID-19 era. We have adapted our policies to respond to the circumstances, and we are now offering consultations over the phone and through live streaming video conferencing.
You can get the help that you need without taking any risks, so now is the time for action if you are unprepared. To schedule an appointment, give us a call at 860-548-1000, and there is a contact form on this website that you can use to send us a message.