Some documents are essential in an emergency.
Most people think tragedy will strike anyone but them.
When serious accidents, debilitating illnesses, or natural disasters do happen, they are disorienting and frightening.
People are thrust quite suddenly into emergency situations.
According to a recent MarketWatch article titled “3 tasks your family needs to complete to ease any anxiety over unexpected emergencies,” often these individuals are woefully unprepared when something bad happens to them or a loved one.
In addition to keeping 9-1-1 on speed dial, having extra cash in your car, or storing a first aid kit, people should also have certain legal papers in place.
Although estate planning is often thought to be death planning only – and then only for the wealthy – this could not be further from the truth.
Estate planning documents can provide vital support and peace of mind in the case of emergencies by outlining a plan for the care you wish to receive if incapacitated and the people you want contacted.
What documents should you have prepared for an emergency?
Power of Attorney.
Any adult should have a power of attorney.
With this document, you can entrust someone trustworthy to handle your financial affairs were you incapacitated.
The authority you grant can be broad or specific, but must comply with state laws.
These directives include HIPAA authorizations, a health care treatment directive, and a durable power of attorney for health care decisions.
Although HIPAA is wonderful for protecting your personal health information from others, it also blocks key people in your life from being updated on your health status in an emergency.
A HIPAA Authorization gives permission to your medical providers to discuss your records with selected individuals.
This is also necessary for your designated individuals to talk with health insurance personnel on your behalf.
The durable power of attorney for health care decisions gives a trusted agent the right and responsibility to make health care decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so yourself.
A health care treatment directive is important in more dire emergency situations.
With this directive, you outline the life saving treatments or end-of-life care you would like to receive.
Having these documents as part of a comprehensive estate plan is essential to empowering your loved ones in the event of emergency.
Although not all tragedies and crisis situations lead to death, it is also important to create a last will and testament or a trust.
These are key to naming guardians for minor children, distributing property, and designating who will oversee your affairs when you die.
In addition to these documents, it is helpful to provide information to your executors, trustees, and agents regarding your CPA, financial advisor, physicians, pharmacy, prescriptions, medical history, financial institutions, and digital account numbers, usernames, and passwords.
Do not put this information directly into your last will and testament.
Because this document is made public, thieves and scammers could have access to your private information.
Alternatively, store this information in a secure place and share the location with your agent.
Taking these estate planning steps can help protect you in the event of an emergency.
So, think like a Boy Scout and be prepared!
Reference: MarketWatch (Nov. 19, 2022) “3 tasks your family needs to complete to ease any anxiety over unexpected emergencies”