Be Legally Prepared for Covid-19
With our collective and overriding concern about the Covid-19 virus, I thought it imperative to discuss the importance of preparedness. While much of estate planning concerns what will happen to your assets after you pass away, perhaps more important now is what happens if you become too ill to manage your own life. That too is part of estate planning.
In every estate planner’s arsenal, there are tools to address this situation. For each estate planning client, we not only prepare a Last Will and Testament, but also a durable power of attorney, living will (also known as a DNR – “Do Not Resuscitate“ order) and a health care proxy. Here’s what each document does:
- Durable Power of Attorney: Appoints another to act in your stead, immediately, on your business and financial matters, as authorized. The document is intended to be effective even if you become mentally impaired. Yet it becomes effective when signed and is not contingent on any condition actually occurring. You can require that the document is only effective if accompanied by a doctor’s note attesting to mental incapacity, but that generally makes the document less acceptable to banks and financial firms. Many banks and investment firms, such as Fidelity or Vanguard, also require you to sign one of their own forms if you want an agent to manage your account with them.
- Health Care Proxy: Appoints another to make health care decisions if you cannot. This document is not just for older people. It can become essential if you are in a car accident, in the middle of surgery and medical personnel have questions about your health history or you have an unexpected fall and don’t have your faculties about you. Every time you enter a hospital for care or treatment, you will be asked to sign one – but you may have your own with you at all times. We give all clients e-copies of these documents for this purpose.
- Living Will: Also known as a DNR, a living will provides instructions to medical personnel about your end of life care wishes. This document must be scrutinized especially now because some decisions made on this document, such as “no intubation,” may be reconsidered in light of Covid-19.
While New York mandates standard language for these documents, we often customize language to suit a client’s wishes. As we all seek to stay safe and avoid the spread of this highly contagious virus, it may be a good time to revisit your documents and make sure they reflect your wishes. Standard language gets the job done in most cases, but your own health care challenges and wishes should be re-evaluated considering the Covid-19 virus and how it might affect you.
We are now holding client meetings via Facetime and Zoom to avoid the need for clients to travel to the office. Please contact our office at 914 923-1600 if we can be of assistance at this time. Download the NYS health care proxy form below and sign in front of two witnesses and be ready in the event a doctor visit is needed.
Oh – and Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Let’s hope the shamrock smiles on us all with green healing.