Pandemics bring end-of-life decisions to the forefront.
The spread of COVID-19 across the globe makes this a pandemic.
People all over the world are experiencing the same fears.
They are thinking about sickness.
They are thinking about death.
What can they do?
What can you do?
According to a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article titled “We’re in a pandemic. This is a good time to plan your estate and make end-of-life choices,” you can prepare for end-of-life decisions.
Although thinking through about certain death and potential incapacity is as unavoidable as it is unpleasant.
The consequences of dying without considering your end-of-life decisions are daunting.
With the exception of assets you arrange to pass outside of probate by design, without a last will and testament you cannot control who inherits from your estate.
Instead, the you local probate court makes these decisions accounting to the laws of “intestate succession” in your state.
If you have a blended or non-traditional family structure, this can be particularly problematic.
You may leave your partner without rights to inherit your assets and take care of your children’s financial needs.
Regardless whether you are single parent or married, what happen will happen to your minor children if orphaned?
Who will rear them to adulthood on your behalf?
Chances are you have strong opinions about who should (and who should not) be the guardians (i.e., backup parents) for your minor children.
Without nominating the guardians of your own choosing, the state again will make this choice for you.
Incapacity planning is also important.
If you were admitted to a hospital, would your loved ones be able to discuss your situation with the doctor?
If you cannot make the medical decisions yourself, would your loved ones know your wishes and have the legal authority to accept or deny treatment on your behalf?
If you do not have a HIPAA Release and an Advance Health Care Directive, then the answer to both of these questions is no.
You cannot afford to neglect your end-of-life decisions.
Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to get your affairs in order.
These documents will need to be notarized and signed by two non-related (to you) witnesses to be legal.
An experienced estate planning attorney can coordinate your meetings to comply with social distancing and other requirements unique to your jurisdiction.
Reference: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (March 31, 2020) “We’re in a pandemic. This is a good time to plan your estate and make end-of-life choices.”