Having a Last Will and Testament is a good start for an estate plan; however, with the current coronavirus pandemic, everyone needs more than just a will. Although a will prevents your property from going into intestacy, you should also have a Health Care Surrogate, Living Will, and Power of Attorney.
What Are All These Other Documents?
Most people are familiar with a will, which is the division of your property after death. Although some people think that a Health Care Surrogate and a Living Will are the same, they do have some differences. A Living Will lets medical personnel know your wishes should you be unable to communicate them yourself. Some who have contracted COVID-19 have had to be intubated or may be in a coma and are therefore unable to communicate. A Living Will, also called an advanced directive, gives medical personnel information about your wishes regarding life sustaining measures.
A Health Care Surrogate, also referred to as a Medical Power of Attorney, allows you to appoint another person to make medical decisions on your behalf. This includes what medicines may be administered or surgery to perform if you cannot make an informed decision. During the hospital admission process, you may be asked if you have these documents.
A Power of Attorney assigns rights to another person regarding various non-medical issues. It is revocable at any time. It is most often used so another party can assist with your financial and personal property during your incapacity. Because there is a chance of hospitalization associated with COVID-19, having a Power of Attorney can reduce stress on yourself and your loved ones whether or not you contract the virus.
Why a Living Will and Health Care Surrogate Are Essential
A Living Will is the expression of your wishes when you are unable to speak. It allows a doctor or nurse to follow your wishes. Without a Living Will, your spouse or child will have to make a decision for you. It can be very difficult for a family member to make a decision for you in the moments after receiving devastating news, especially over the phone. Having a Living Will in place takes the possibility of this burden off your family. Your estate planning attorney can draw up a Living Will for you with your input. By assigning a Health Care Surrogate, the hospital will have a point of contact. They will know whom to contact to discuss the risks and benefits of a potential treatment. Essentially, these two documents together allow a doctor to follow your wishes.
Why a Power of Attorney is Essential
With a Power of Attorney in place a designated person can sign a check to pay a mortgage or other bill. They can also deal with your insurance company if there are issues with coverage. In short, this is helpful especially for those who are hospitalized or incapacitated.
If you do not have these documents current and in place, now is the time to schedule a phone consultation and get started. As a local estate planning attorney Wagstaff Law Office can help you with all the documents you should have in place in light of the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. Call us today at (727) 584-8182 or fill out our contact form.