According to the PDOH, as of March 17, 2020, there are 96 confirmed cases of (COVID-19). The WHO has called the coronavirus a “pandemic” with more than 153,648 cases confirmed worldwide and over 5,746 deaths.
The coronavirus is a disease that can’t be ignored. It transmits easily, and it is spreading rapidly. The elderly population is especially vulnerable and those who have an underlying issue such as diabetes, cancer, respiratory problems, among others.
The first thing you need to know about the coronavirus is how it spreads. According to the CDC, the coronavirus virus spreads mainly from person-to-person. Ways to protect yourself against being infected with the coronavirus include washing your hands often, avoid close contact with people that are sick, social distancing from other people, cover cough, and sneezes, among many others.
With confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Pennsylvania on the rise, I want to let you know some of the things you should consider to prepare yourself as it relates to your estate plan, and the proper documents you can put in place in the unfortunate event that you or a loved one is infected with the coronavirus.
ESTATE PLANNING DOCUMENTS TO CONSIDER OR REVIEW WHEN PREPARING FOR THE CORONAVIRUS:
REVIEW YOUR Pennsylvania LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
Now is the time to review your Pennsylvania last Will and testament. Is your will up to date? Do you even have a last will and testament? If the answer is No, please contact my office immediately.
REVIEW YOUR Pennsylvania REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST
When was the last time you reviewed your revocable living trust? Do you need to update your beneficiaries and how they are to receive the property? Will they receive the trust property outright or in trust? Are the beneficiaries minors or adults? The answer to any of these questions can potentially affect your intent as it relates to your estate plan.
Have you funded your revocable living trust with your assets? If you have not funded your revocable living trust, then you will not be able to avoid probate court
REVIEW YOUR BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS
In Pennsylvania, assets titled under your name and without a beneficiary designation pass through probate court. Assets such as bank accounts, IRA’s, life insurance, and annuities can designate a beneficiary upon your passing.
When the beneficiary is updated correctly, at your passing, your heirs will receive the funds from those accounts outright unless you designate your revocable living trust as your beneficiary or to your estate if you fail to name a beneficiary or if your beneficiary has predeceased you.
Make sure to call your financial institution or check online to review your beneficiary designation. Complete your beneficiary designation if you have not already done so or update them if you want to make any changes.
REVIEW YOUR FINANCIAL POWER OF ATTORNEY
If you get infected with the coronavirus having a durable power of attorney is a crucial document in your estate planning preparations. The durable power of attorney allows you to designate an agent to make financial decisions on your behalf. Meaning someone is going to be able to handle your financial affairs if you are unable to do so.
The durable power of attorney is crucial if you have a business or if you are an elderly individual, and you rely upon others to assist you in your day-to-day affairs.
REVIEW YOUR HEALTH CARE SURROGATE
The health care surrogate allows you to designate a surrogate to make health decisions on your behalf as well as receive health care information from your doctors.
The health care surrogate is a critical document in your estate plan preparedness. Having a surrogate that can make health decisions on your behalf is imperative, especially if surgery is needed or, in general, to be able to communicate with doctors and the hospital regarding your health and treatment.
REVIEW YOUR MEDICAL POWER OF ATTORNEY FOR MINOR CHILD
If you get infected with the coronavirus and have minor children, do you have a Medical Power of Attorney giving someone the authority to take your children to the doctor? What if you need to quarantine yourself and cannot take care of your child?
Having a Medical Power of Attorney for a Minor Child allows you, the parents, to give a family member the authority to take your child to the doctor and receive and make health care decisions on their behalf. This is one document that most people fail to prepare during an emergency.
REVIEW YOUR LIVING WILL
A Living Will is the document where you designate whether you want life-prolonging treatment should you be in a terminal state. Do you want respirators to help you breathe? Do you want to be kept alive artificially? All of these are hard questions that must be thought about ahead of time with the people you love.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON ESTATE PLANNING AND THE CORONAVIRUS
I deal with a lot of elderly individuals looking to protect their families. The elderly community is especially vulnerable to the coronavirus. It is our social responsibility to try to do everything in our power from spreading this vicious disease.